Proposed Education Bill Seeks To Increase Resources For At-Risk Students

Feb 6, 2020

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During the 2020 Legislative Session, Utah Senator Lyle Hillyard said he will be pushing for equality in education funding and more resources for students who are at risk.

“Traditionally we fund education property taxes, and property taxes are really not equal,” Hillyard said.

Hillyard is sponsoring a bill for the school boards to receive equal funding for Utah public schools regardless of property taxes and to increase the focus on at-risk students.

“So it didn’t matter whether you lived in Logan, you lived in Hyrum, or you lived in St. George or Moab, we give the same amount of money,” Hillyard said,

A WPU, or the weighted pupil unit, is how public education is funded. Children with disabilities typically get an extra WPU. Hillyard is looking to spread those resources to other students who may not be disabled, but are likely to struggle. 

Hillyard said Utah has one of the highest rates of intact families in the country. The state is also home to many refugee children. Added WPU funding can go towards counselors, nurses, or any other resource the school district needs. 

“The school district reports back to us and says we have these 18,000 students, we have 2,000, just to use an example, who are disabled and because of that they get extra money to take care of them. What I’m saying is I want to weight for children at risk,” Hillyard said.

Hillyard’s bill, S.B. 79, passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday and will be traveling to the Senate floor for a vote soon.  

Editor's note: The audio version of this story references the state school board when it should have just said "school boards."