Education bill offers opportunity for choice

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    By Ember Herrick

    Legislators are divided on a bill that would help parents pay for their children”s private school education.

    The tuition tax credit bill would give certain families and donors of private school tuition a tax credit for children in grades K-12.

    The tax credit would be equivalent to Utah”s student funding formula that is currently at $2,100 per student.

    Sponsor of the bill, Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, said the bill would actually increase the amount of money per student in public education.

    “Right now it costs the state $6,000 a year to educate one child,” Buttars said. “The bill is only taking away $2,100, so this is saving public education almost $4,000.”

    Lillian Zarndt is the principal and founder of A University for Children, the only private accredited K-12 school in Utah County.

    Zarndt said the bill will allow parents to chose the educational environment which would work best for each child.

    Buttars said parents should be able to decide where their tax dollars go.

    “That”s what makes America so great, you get to choose,” Buttars said.

    Buttars said it has become a control issue with legislators, trying to mandate how parents” tax dollars are spent on education.

    He said it is very likely the House will shortly pass the bill and that he already has the necessary votes in the Senate.

    Provo School District business administrator Lynn Smith said a committee composed of school business and board officials and superintendents have formed to actively oppose the bill at the state legislature.

    Rep. Trisha Beck, D-Sandy, is among the legislators that are concerned about the implications of the bill.

    “It affects our most vulnerable population,” Beck said.

    Beck said the bill will negatively affect some Utahns by either increasing income taxes or raising property taxes to provide the additional funding.

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