Politics & Legislation

SB65: Statewide Online Education Program

UEA Position: OPPOSED

This bill creates a statewide online education program to allow students to earn high school graduation credit through the completion of online courses. The estimated $2.5 million cost for this program will be borne by the individual school districts.

UEA’s Concerns:

The legislation duplicates the existing Electronic High School (EHS). EHS is administered through the Utah State Office of Education and funded by a separate budget line item. It isavailable statewide at no charge to students. The EHS is not allowed to be used until 2012-2013 school year.

The bill requires school districts to provide support services, but sends ALL the funding to other providers. For example, the EHS cooperates with local school districts on sharing curriculum, proctoring exams, working with counselors, etc. It is not clear whetherother paid providers would have similar access to public schools, materials and facilitiesor if they would cooperate with the LEA.

The accounting related to this bill would be very difficult to administer and to track. In fact the Auditor General is required to do an audit of the program.

Providers have an incentive to process a high volume of students and require lower instructional standards so as to be “competitive” when students shop for an online provider.

Requires the State Office to do extensive work on a statewide online system including developing a website for a program and studying the feasibility of using private providers to offer courses directly to students.