School board approves funding for teacher salary increases
The Park Record
The Park City Board of Education met Wednesday afternoon as the sounds of honking horns and ringing cowbells carried in from a demonstration taking place just outside. At the board’s budget hearing, the elected officials approved an amended budget — without incident or in-depth discussion — that factors in additional funding from the state than what was initially anticipated.
The board’s budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, passed in June, accounted for an expected reduction in state funding of up to 10% due to the coronavirus pandemic. Shortly after the board approved the budget for the year, however, Utah’s Legislature approved its own budget with a slight increase in school funding. That move kept state funding for the district roughly in line with the previous year. Thus, the board found itself having slashed $3 million from its budget it could now restore, and it did so Wednesday.
The amended budget restores funding for programs that were eliminated in the earlier budget and allocated money for projected future costs related to COVID-19 safety measures. It also set aside approximately $2.43 million for teacher compensation, which the board anticipates will be accepted by the Park City Education Association, the teachers’ union. The compensation package was approved following a bumpy round of negotiations that the board at one point halted when it anticipated the state funding reduction.
The lack of discussion about the decision was also notable because of a letter the elected officials sent to teachers Monday. In that letter, which was signed by all five members, the board said if individual teachers continued to voice their concerns with the district’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, it could weaken the community’s confidence in the district and jeopardize the additional funding for teacher salaries. Several demonstrators outside the meeting, who were there to protest the district’s coronavirus response, mentioned that letter as the reason they showed up.
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Debate continues about schooling in a pandemic, as Park City students petition to stay in school, 78% of secondary teachers opt for remote, and case numbers remain low ahead of a feared post-Thanksgiving spike.