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Tweak in After-School Program Falls Flat for Now in State Senate

File: Head Start

A proposal to require the State Board of Education and the Department of Workforce Services to administer best practices for after-school programs in Utah failed by a close vote in the Senate Friday.SB125 was sponsored by Democratic Senator Luz Escamilla of Salt Lake City. She says she wanted to ensure state-run programs, mostly in Title I schools, have rules that describe high quality standards for programs operating outside of the regular school day.

“Areas or LEA’s that have low graduation rates, low assessment scores, and low attendance rates. So there’s no other program with those specific criteria,” says Escamilla.

It would have required $500,000 from the General Education Fund. Republican Senator Margaret Dayton of Orem voted against the bill.

“This is a well-intended idea but I’m getting concerned that more and more we are asking to have the taxpayers pay for parenting activities;” says Dayton, “more before school programs, more pre-K programs, more after school programs.

Senator Jim Dabakis, a Salt Lake City Democrat, says it’s not about bad parenting.

“It’s about parents who are making $1,130 a month at minimum wage and trying to raise a couple of kids and drop them off,” Dabakis says.

Senator Escamilla told KUER she voted against her own bill as a way keep it alive in the Senate. She says she hopes to talk to fellow lawmakers in the meantime and re-run the bill next week.

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