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Bill aims to add funding cushion for charter schools that specialize in online learning

(PHOTO: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers meeting in special session Thursday plan to take up online charter school funding. 

In addition to focusing on the economy and ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Utah’s special session will also look at a bill that provides funding for charter schools inundated with new students.  The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply increased demand at these online-specific schools for parents and students opting for alternatives to live schooling.  

H.B. 6012 would reassess the way enrollment is measured for the 2020-2021 school year and frees up money from within the School Board budget. 

Had the Utah School Board of Education been able to see into the future, they would have known that online specialty charter schools would be slammed with virtual enrollment this year.  Problem is, they gauge funding for the schools from enrollment the year prior, on October 1st.  

This bill attempts to fix this for this school year only.  One, it will determine enrollment based on the numbers of kids enrolled this year through December.  And it allows $8 million in emergency and unused education funds to be used for the schools in need. 

Other educational funding issues are also addressed in the bill.  The salary supplement for board certified teachers would be reinstated.  This program was scrapped in the last special session of the Legislature in June.  That program requires funds of close to a quarter million dollars.  Also, the bill provides $3 million for the English Learner Software program. 

The bill is sponsored by Representative Jefferson Moss, R-District 2,  and is floor-sponsored by Senator Ann Millner, R-District 18.