Education funding program finds mixed reactions

OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – “I think we need to look at education with a holistic approach and realize that we are still providing increased funding for public education, and recognize that we are also going to try an innovative program to give parents more options, ”Utah State Representative Candice Pierucci told ABC4, referring to House of Representatives bill 331.

The bill, also known as the Hope Scholarship Program, is provoking mixed reactions. ABC4 examines the reason why a representative of Pierucci is sponsoring the bill than one parent is concerned about and why the NAACP Ogden branch opposes it.

“We have one of the highest rates of autism,” Stacey Bernal said. “In Utah, every 58-year-old child is diagnosed with autism.” Bernal’s son was diagnosed with autism at the age of nine, and she explained that the family knew about the time he was three.

He began participating in various programs for about three years to help him adjust and respond to the world around him. Years have passed, and, according to Bernal: “We never know day by day how he will react to something. One day it may be that he is all right, and the next – a complete and complete collapse.

Bernal’s son is now in public high school. Bernal told ABC4 that he is now thriving thanks to specialized programs and his teachers. “They love him,” she added. “I know they love him and I know they take care of him, so when he leaves our house and is under their care, I know they take care of him.” She said the family researched private schools for her son. However, no one met the needs of their child. She explained that if he went to high school, alternating classes would be a sensory overload.

She expressed her concern about ABC4. She worries that those programs that allow him to do well in school may not survive if the House of Representatives bill is passed 331.

Representative Candice Pierucci (R) of District 52 is sponsoring the bill. She told ABC4 that these programs should not change in funding once the bill is passed. She said: “It’s an educational savings account, and so we expect that most people who use it will actually use it for home school and microschools.”

A spokesman for Pierucci said funds raised for the scholarship program would not be taken from public schools. “If a student leaves the middle of the school year, this amount of WPU (the basic unit per student used to determine the amount of public funds allocated to the school district) remains at the school.”

The family can use the scholarship program to pay for tuition at a private school. This is one of the reasons why the NAACP branch of Ogden opposes the bill.

“Nothing against private schools, but public money should stay in public schools,” said Angel Castillo (NA / E) Executive Committee member of the Ogden branch of the Ogden branch of ABC4.

Castilla explained that the NAACP also opposes the bill because of the history of school vouchers in the south following the Brown v. Education Council lawsuit. She added: “Vouchers take place in a certain county, closing all public schools and creating private schools so that it is determined by race and does not allow black and brown children.”

While families could potentially use the program to pay for private schools, a spokesman for Pierucci stressed that it is not a voucher bill. She also told ABC4 that it also aims to improve public education.

“I absolutely believe that our teachers need to be well paid,” she said. “I absolutely believe that we need to adequately fund our schools, and I also think we need to try different innovative approaches to give parents more tools, because in the end it concerns our students.”

A spokesman for Pierucci said HB 331 would be funded by income tax revenues and would be limited to $ 36 million and said it would also give a five per cent increase to public schools.

According to Pierucci, they estimate that only 9,000 students will be able to benefit from the program, “and this is also a test of material means, so we focus on low-income families and then on middle-class families in terms of size assistance. ”

Pieruchi told ABC4 that she is sponsoring the bill because many parents in her county have begun looking for different learning options for their children because of the pandemic.

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