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Will voting yes on Amendment B offer more money for students?

Oct 27, 2016 04:03PM ● Published by Rubina Halwani

Annual statewide distribution in millions of dollars. (School Land Trust)

By Rubina Halwanil | r.halwani@mycityjournals.com


Cottonwood Heights & Holladay

Parents of public school students may be interested to vote for or against Constitutional Amendment B in this year’s general election. Amendment B focuses on how the School LAND Trust funds are to be invested and distributed. Proponents for the proposed revision seek to increase funding for students in public schools throughout Utah.

The State School Fund is a permanent school fund designed to support students in Utah public schools. The trust was established at statehood in the Utah Constitution. The school community council in each school manages allocation of funds for various academic achievement initiatives. There is currently $2.1 billion in assets in the school fund, with approximately $46 million designated for expenditure in 2016. 

“The change to the trust has to be a constitutional amendment,” said Susan Edwards, community engagement coordinator for Canyons School District. 

There are three proposed changes in Amendment B. 

• The first is changing annual distribution from “interest and dividends” to “earnings.” 

There are a growing number of ways the fund can increase value. Using the term “earnings” adjusts for new avenues for the fund to invest and distribute funds from such investment.

• Next, the amendment would limit distribution from the fund to 4 percent. 

There is currently no cap on spending in the Utah Constitution. Instilling an annual limit for the distribution of funds would deter schools from overspending. 

• Finally, Amendment B would also shift investment from “safely” to “prudently.” 

The current terminology implies investing in a way that is devoid of risk. However, risk is inherent to any investment. The term “prudently” suggests investing in a judicial and pragmatic way. 

Dawn Davies, president of the Utah PTA, supports the proposition. 

“I believe this change to the distribution formula is good for Utah’s students now and for future generations,” Davies said in a press release.

While a majority of interest groups support Amendment B, the vote in the Utah Senate was not unanimous. Sen. Margaret Dayton from District 15 voted against the change. 

“While this strategy could perhaps increase the fund’s annual distribution, that increase would be achieved at the expense of predictable and demonstrated long-term growth,” Dayton said. 

Amendment B is one of three ballot questions this November. The other two include Amendment A — Oath of Office, and Amendment C — Property Tax Exemption. 

Legislative Votes 

Utah Senate 

26 Yes / 1 No / 2 Not Present 

Utah House of Representatives 

72 Yes / 0 No / 3 Not Present 


Legislative Votes 

Utah Senate 

26 Yes / 1 No / 2 Not Present 

Utah House of Representatives 

72 Yes / 0 No / 3 Not Present 


Supporters

STL Board of Trustees

Utah PTA Board of Directors

Governor Herbert

David Damshen, Utah State Treasurer

State House and Senate

    Leaders in Education and Finance


Supporters

STL Board of Trustees

Utah PTA Board of Directors

Governor Herbert

David Damshen, Utah State Treasurer

State House and Senate

    Leaders in Education and Finance


Average Distributions for the 2015-2016 School Year

An average elementary school received $44,200

An average middle/junior high school received $62,300

An average high school received $74,400

The average per-pupil distribution was $73


Average Distributions for the 2015-2016 School Year

An average elementary school received $44,200

An average middle/junior high school received $62,300

An average high school received $74,400

The average per-pupil distribution was $73


For more information, visit https://vote.utah.gov/vote/menu/index


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