The Davis Chamber Legislative Affairs committee held its last meeting at the Capitol on Monday, to make a few last requests of the Davis County legislators.
First up, Davis School District Community Relations Director Chris Williams gave a report on HB313 regarding charter school funding.
“The goal of the bill is to bring more funding to charter schools,” he said. “We (the district) agree to more funding for schools but it would shift from state to local dollars. In Davis we are already funded below average. Also, we are concerned about governance and accountability. Who would have the power to collect the taxes and who’s accountable at the charter school for how those tax dollars are used?”
Williams said the district is held accountable by the school board for the tax dollars it receives.
“We each (charter/district) have things in common, which is to make sure each child gets an excellent education,” he said. “Charters are accountable to parents, no question. But the public has no say in how those tax dollars are used.”
Williams handed out material prepared by the district’s business administrator, Craig Carter that pointed out several concerns with HB313.
“Charter schools deserve to be adequately funded as do traditional public schools,” the statement reads. “HB313 places the burden of funding the local replacement dollars on those districts with charter schools. Rural districts or districts with no charter schools do not share in the cost.”
Carter goes on to say that local boards of education may be forced to raise property taxes to offset what they pay to charter schools. “In other words, LEA’s may have to raise taxes to support a group of students not under their scope of responsibility.”
Williams reiterated that the district is not against charter schools, but wants to see all public schools operate on a level playing field.
In other business, Davis Chamber President/CEO, Jim Smith offered another plea to the lawmakers to prevent additional hunting on Antelope Island.
“Before I came to the chamber, I looked at businesses to see how well they ran,” said Smith. “When a business started selling off its greatest assets, it was a sure sign the business was failing. This is what I see happening (on the island).”
Smith also asked for continued funding for the HAFB airshow. “There is no comparison to the airshow,” he said. “It’s a wonderful resource and a significant event for Utah.”
The legislators were a bit weary as they faced the last few days of the session.
“We just finished a gut-wrenching week last week,” said Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton. “It was tough with immigration and GRAMA. We’re not going to get everything we want, but that’s life isn’t it?”
Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, commented on the difficult parts of the immigration bills. “There are a lot of different pieces to this (immigration),” he said. “You have families where some are legal and some are not. There are more tentacles than a great big octopus. It’s still up in the air — we’re just hoping for a soft landing.”