Large District Opt-out

For frequently asked questions regarding the large district opt-out.

Questions and Answers PDF




Why do some Utah school districts provide their own services to children who are deaf or blind, and others have those services provided by USDB at no cost? The Utah State Board of Education administrative rule requires the largest districts in the state to provide their own services or to contract for those services. Some contract with USDB. The board rule defines the threshold as any district with more than 3% of the total school population in Utah.
How does the Board determine which districts have to provide their own services to students who are deaf or blind? The Board rule defines the threshold as any district with more than 3% of the total school population in Utah.
Which school districts qualify as 3% districts? Currently, there are 9 districts in the state above the 3% threshold, including Weber School District, Davis School District, Salt Lake School District, Granite School District, Jordan School District, Canyons School District, Alpine School District, Nebo School District, and Washington School District.
What is the USDB 3% opt-out rule? The Board allows 3% districts to opt out of providing their own services for students who are deaf or blind by making a request to USDB, subject to funding for the additional resources needed.
How many of the large districts have requested the opt-out provision? Currently 3 districts have requested USDB services. One district already had been paying for USDB services and now will not have to pay; another district was using minimal deaf services. The third district, has never contracted services with USDB before.
Is USDB taking over all vision and deaf services in the state? No, the role of USDB is to request funding from the legislature when a large district requests the opt-out provision.
Why were there no public discussions or stakeholder meetings prior to the opt-out requests or the request for funding? Because the request is not initiated by USDB, and because school districts are ultimately responsible to ensure appropriate services for their students, any efforts to gather feedback would be the prerogative of the school district requesting an opt-out. USDB is a supportive partner for the district in meeting its obligations under the law.
What about rumors of previous challenges at USDB? USDB has worked diligently to improve our services, resources, and programs over the past several years. Years ago, there was some discontent and challenges with USDB services, and the USDB administration has made a tremendous effort to address these challenges. Those who are currently familiar with USDB realize it is a completely different experience now.
Does the opt-out provision affect “placement” of students in their home district classrooms? Will they have to attend USDB campus schools if USDB provides their services? No, student placement is not affected in any way, regardless of who provides the specialized services. Both USDB and school districts are required to comply with Special Education laws which require student placement to be determined by a team that develops an individual education plan (IEP) for each student. If the best placement for a child is in his or her home school district, that will not change.
Has USDB considered the potential impact to current services, the continuum of placements and overall impact to students across the state. The opt-out decision will not affect the continuum of placement options already available to students and IEP teams.
Why has the number of students increased in the most recent USDB annual report? USDB reports on students served from birth through 21 years of age. Previously, the annual report numbers only included children enrolled in USDB classrooms, but the more recent reports accurately reflect the total number of students we serve statewide as well.
How do we know there are currently underserved students in districts? Some districts who have expressed interest or requested USDB services have asked for additional personnel to serve their students.
Does USDB provide sufficient braille instruction for students? USDB firmly supports and implements best practice of the field, which is generally a minimum of 60 minutes per day of braille instruction. Legally, IEP teams determine braille instructional service minutes specific to each student based on assessment data.
If USDB assumes services for a district, will the educators for deaf or blind children in that district have the option of being employed by USDB? Yes, USDB will hire qualified teachers to continue working with the students they serve.
Will educators who transfer to USDB receive lower salaries than they had at a local district? No educator will have a reduction in salary if they choose to work for USDB following a district opt-out. In addition, state law requires USDB to be among the top paying school districts in the state.
Will district educators lose their retirement or other benefits if they are hired by USDB? Educators will NOT lose their Utah state retirement; it will transfer to USDB with no loss of benefit. Employees of USDB are eligible for all other state employee benefits (dental, health, etc.), which offer lower employee costs than most district benefit plans.
How can USDB fill positions if district educators choose not to work for USDB? USDB routinely hires educators both from within the state and from outside the state. USDB has a great reputation nationwide, and we pride ourselves on the scope and level of services we provide to students and staff. During the past few years, for example, USDB has filled all open TVI and O&M vacancies.
What is the average caseload of USDB Teachers of the Visually Impaired, and how is it determined? USDB TVI caseload averages 20 students per TVI caseload. Some districts have considerably larger caseloads. Actual numbers depend on the intensity of services and needs of each student. USDB closely monitors TVI caseloads. New positions are added when needed, based on caseload analysis. Consistent caseload monitoring is routine practice at USDB.
How do current educators feel about their employment at USDB? USDB prides itself on our outstanding educators, service providers, our programs and services. We are proud of our team, and what we offer. USDB hires more deaf and blind educators than any other LEA in the state of Utah; and most of our educators have worked for USDB for many years. They are pleased with the administrative supports, professional development and the oversight provided them. They are passionate, highly qualified, and excellent educators; very few ever leave USDB.


Outreach graphic 23909 students chart 1


Click here to review the Annual Report for 2017/2018