Proposed school district budget would add positions, continue wage increase
Budget talks are underway at Park City School District.
The Park City Board of Education is currently reviewing the proposed budget, which includes a reshuffling of district cabinet members, the addition of district- and school-level positions and the continuation of a three-year contract to raise teacher salaries. It also includes a tax increase that, according to business administrator Todd Hauber, will likely be similar to last year’s amount. The tax increase approved in 2018 totaled $5.6 million.
Hauber said the district knew it would have to increase taxes in order to pay for the three-year compensation agreement it made in 2017 to raise wages for all licensed staff in the district. The upcoming school year will be the final year of the agreement, and Hauber said the Board and teachers will have to go back to the negotiating table next year, most likely in January or February.
The 2019-20 budget includes funding for a handful of new positions at the district level, including a chief academic and a chief operations officer. The chief academic officer would oversee curriculum and professional development. Hauber said it would replace the associate superintendent of teaching and learning position, which is currently held by Traci Evans on an interim basis.
The chief operations officer would be in charge of safety and human resources in the district, as well as other duties that are currently spread among a handful of district leaders. Hauber said the associate superintendent of human resources position, which is currently held by Tim McConnell, would have different responsibilities.
Hauber said the cabinet-level changes are expected to be budget neutral.
The district also intends to hire someone to coordinate the district-wide efforts for English as a second language and dual-language immersion programs. The dual-language immersion program is in its 10th year, and the first cohort of students will be juniors in the fall.
The district plans to create a new central registrar position who would ensure that the registration process is uniform at every school, Hauber said. Parents with kids in multiple schools could also use the central registrar to register their students in one place.
At the schools, the district plans to hire more special education instructors, particularly for high school-age students at Treasure Mountain Junior High, Park City High School and the Park City Learning Academy. The district has emphasized funding more special education positions in recent years, and Hauber said hiring more people at the high school helps round out the district services.
“We look at all the services that the school district provides, and we have noticed that there are some gaps,” he said. “Those gaps are showing up mostly in the secondary schools.”
The district also recently changed the compensation structure for teachers who have assignments outside of the school day, such as teaching during after-school programs. Hauber said the district is now paying teachers more for their before- or after-school work, and after-school programs are expanding at Ecker Hill Middle School. The changes require an increase in district funding.
The capital budget includes regular maintenance projects such as updating roofs and heating and cooling systems in the schools. It also includes more than $2 million set aside for upgrading the schools based on the outcome of the master planning process. Hauber said the district will have $600,000 to purchase new furniture or do minor changes to the classrooms and another $1.5 million for architecture and design work.
The district’s consulting firm is expected to present its master planning options for the district on April 16, but Hauber said he will most likely not know the Board’s final decision for the master plan and the specific funding needs until after the budget is finalized.
Hauber said the Board hopes to approve the final budget in May, 30 days earlier than the date required by statute. The Board wants to speed up the process in order to allow more time for district and school leaders to start the hiring process. The Board plans to continue its discussions about the budget at its next meeting on April 16.
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Park City School District’s Board of Directors is getting closer to a price tag for its district-wide plan to increase class space and improve wraparound services at its schools, but no decision has been made on how much of that $140 million will be part of a bond election.