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Early graduation incentive bill fails in House

SALT LAKE CITY — House lawmakers rejected a bill Thursday that sought to increase scholarship funds for early high school graduates.

SB33 would have required schools to inform parents earlier in their students' academic career about the pathways to early graduation and college readiness. The bill also would have doubled the maximum amount for the Centennial Scholarship to $2,000.

Floor sponsor Rep. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton, said the bill would have relied on dollars from the education fund, but because more students would graduate early and put less burden on the education system, the bill would generate savings overall.

"That's an assumption," said Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville. "I agree that the Legislature and the State School Board have a responsibility to set a standard. But I still think this is tinkering with education, requiring local districts to do things that I think they're plenty capable of doing without the Legislature having to put it in statute."

McCay said it was unclear how many students would have benefited from the program, but the bill's intent was to inform parents better, not to dictate local decisions.

"It is always a careful balance on when we compel and when we don't compel. In this scenario, the compulsion is for information," he said. "There is no other way for parents really absent a specific focus on going and reading through the law and finding these options."

The bill failed in a 39-32 vote.

— Morgan Jacobsen