SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House of Representatives gave final passage to SB245Thursday, which would require school districts or charter boards to give students' parents at least 120 days notice before closing a school or changing school boundaries.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, was introduced in response to the Granite School Board's vote to close Oquirrh Hills Elementary School in Kearns less than a month after district officials informed the school community of the plan. The board conducted a public hearing before taking the vote to close the school, which had not made sufficient progress to exit school turnaround status. The school is housed in an aging building and had a shrinking enrollment.
The legislation also requires school boards to hear public comment on a proposed school closure or boundary change during "at least two public local school board meetings."
Under SB245, the notice would also apply to surrounding schools that would be affected by boundary changes resulting from a school closure. In addition, school districts and charter school administrators would need to give the area's governing council and mayor notice.
"There are no specific deadlines or timetables in statute specific to informing a school community or citizens about the final determination or plans of a failed school. So what happens is, there's no clarity at the end," Mayne said in a committee hearing.
SB245 also requires school districts or charter school boards to give annual notice to school communities, including municipal leaders, when a school is in turnaround status.