School board discusses District Learning Plan costs
Ryan Summerlin May 9, 2014
After budgetary concerns were raised at Park City School District Superintendent Ember Conley’s last community forum Monday night, business administrator Todd Hauber discussed numbers at the school board meeting the next morning.
"We are not rock solid and this is not the end of the road, but these are the expenditures we are looking at," said Hauber.
The changes to be made in the district to align with the new District Learning Plan may cost $540,000 in one-time fees and $644,300 a year. That is $1,184,300 of the $3,755,169 preliminary budget increase for the 2014-15 school year. The DLP expenses include a district benchmarking system, full-time instructional coaches and additional transportation.
After several parents expressed to Conley at Monday’s community forum that the middle school science programs lacked in comparison to the programs at the elementary schools and the high schools, Conley said more collaboration between the elementary and middle school science teachers was in order. To have those collaborative meetings, however, she said a change in the time students were released for the day at Ecker Hill Middle School would have to be made.
"You have to have teams articulate between grade levels, and the bottom line is, we do not currently have that articulation to really focus on our students," Conley said. "It will give them not only the ability to share information but to meet. That alignment is critical in looking at what we need to be able to look at our students’ needs."
That change, while seemingly small, has big costs. Additional buses and three more bus routes to transport students home after school will cost the district $480,000 initially and then $228,300 every year from now on. School board member Charles Cunningham expressed concern, asking Hauber if there were any initiatives to offset the cost.
"We are looking at everything from time on the bus to eligibility of students and different types of routing. We will need to review the boundaries of schools as well as the equipment when we are buying buses," Hauber said. "Right now we have taken the Ecker Hill students and the elementary students and tried to put them on a single routing program, but we have more students than seats we can actually get on a bus."
When Cunningham noted that Hauber said the cost might be even more than projected, Hauber added that they are looking into different routing schemes to make transportation as efficient as possible. He is also making sure they purchase the right size equipment in the buses to accommodate the new routing.
Full-time instructional coaches will cost the district $252,000 every year plus $19,000 to extend their contracts. Conley said their contracts will now include days before and after the school year to work with teachers rather than pull teachers out of class and hire substitute teachers. She said she anticipates the $271,000 will be less than what is currently being paid to pull teachers out of class.
An additional gifted-and-talented education, or GATE, elementary school specialist has been hired and will cost the district $105,000 a year. The Park City Education Foundation and a group of parents are currently fundraising approximately $200,000 for two more.
Data will be gathered throughout the year in order to see if those two additional GATE specialists will stay onboard, Conley said. If they do, the discussion of funding between the district and the Ed Foundation will take place at the end of the year next year.
Hauber added that there will be an additional cost to review the district benchmarking system each year to make sure it is doing the job that it should. That will cost the district $40,000 every year. The current reading model also needs evaluation this year, which will cost $10,000.
The Mindset program, which Hauber described as a team-building and relationship-building program for administrators and staff working with students, is a three-year model that will cost the district $50,000 the first year.
A grant application was given to the Park City Education Foundation to fund the three-year program. If the money is not granted to the district, it will cost the district $50,000 a year for the next three years.
"If I controlled the world, this is how everything would be in place," Hauber said. "We laid this out thinking how we would roll out [the District Learning Plan] and implement it in a way that would be effective and have everything in it that may be desired."
A special work session Board of Education meeting will be held at the District Office on Tuesday, May 13, at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the budget further before its approval on May 20.
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