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Charter School Financial Oversight Bill Passes State Senate Committee

Photo of outside the Senate chambers at the Utah Capitol.
Cory Dinter for KUER
A bill from Rep. Jefferson Moss, R-Saratoga Springs providing for more charter school oversight unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee.

A bill that would require more financial oversight of charter schools passed a state Senate committee unanimously Thursday. 

The bill sets up a three year trial period for new charter schools and requires all new and established charters to use the same accounting methods as other public schools. It also encourages the state Charter School Board, or other charter school authorizer, to request a judge appoint a receiver for failed schools to protect the school’s assets. 

“We're trying again to preemptively resolve those issues before [a school gets in trouble],” said Rep. Jefferson Moss, R-Saratoga Springs, the bill’s sponsor. “But then if there is some kind of a closure process, making sure that the credit enhancement authority can actually jump in and help to ensure we protect the interests of the state.”

Last year, the State Charter School Board moved to close Saint George Academy due to the school’s financial issues, but ultimately reversed course after the school submitted a plan to reduce costs and increase enrollment.

If a school fails, the bill encourages the State Charter School Board to transfer students to a high performing charter school. Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, who also works as a teacher, said moving kids from a charter to a public school can cause disruptions.

“We have maybe 15 kids or 10 kids show up or even five, that changes the whole dynamic of the neighborhood school,” Riebe said. “And then they have to divide the classes up and reconstitute the classes.” 

The bill has support from the State Board of Education and the State Charter School Board. It goes to the Senate floor next.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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