Governor not thrilled with proposals to shift school control
Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday he has concerns about a proposed constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature authority over the state school board.
"I'm not too excited about the Legislature becoming the school board," Herbert said about the proposed resolution, SJR1. "I think that's just a super school board of 104 personalities."
The resolution's sponsor, Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, said he respects the governor's opinion, but that Herbert's lack of enthusiasm won't stop him from advocating for the resolution.
The Utah Constitution says "the general control and supervision of the public education system shall be vested in a State Board of Education." Buttars' amendment would add the words "as provided by statute" to that statement. Buttars said the addition wouldn't lead to lawmakers micromanaging the school board any more than lawmakers micromanage other bodies in the state that operate under the same phrase.
That phrase, for example, appears in the constitution more than 20 times as related to taxes, he said. "The state's never become the super tax board, but if they wanted to inject themselves into an issue, that makes it clear they have the authority," Buttars said.
Opponents of the resolution say control over education should remain local and shifting that control could stifle innovation.
The Senate Education Committee passed the resolution 3-2 on Wednesday. If two-thirds of the House and Senate approve it, the question will then go to voters during the next general election.
Herbert also did not embrace a second proposed constitutional amendment that would give him control over public and higher education. "I'm certainly not looking to take over the job myself," Herbert said of SJR9, sponsored by Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden. That measure also passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.
In general, Herbert said, "I think how we have it now is actually working pretty well from the standpoint of management, so if it ain't broke don't fix it."
Reid also said Thursday the governor's feelings wouldn't stop him from promoting the bill. He said he's aiming to create a more coordinated system.
"Public education is doing their thing. Higher education is doing their thing. The [Applied Technology Colleges] are doing their thing, when it all should be a seamless system."
Both resolutions are now slated to hit the Senate floor.