Schools to beef up their security |

Schools to beef up their security

Even in an economy that may be heading downhill, the Park City School District will add new costs to its budget this year. These increases will bring to life the long-awaited eMints program and beef up security at the schools. Also on the budget are 26 new full-time employees.

The single most noteworthy increase to the budget for the 2008-2009 school year is the money dedicated to eMints, a computer-integrated learning method that places computers in regular curriculum. The program, designed after an educational model pioneered in Missouri, will assign one computer fto every two fifth-graders. It will also require all fifth-grade classrooms to be hard-wired to accommodate computers and other associated hardware. In total, the district will spend $1.2 million on equipment alone.

The eMints program will also necessitate the hiring of one full-time employee to monitor all of the new computers and wiring.

Of these 26 new employees, 21 will be teachers and administrators while five will take other roles. Some of these positions are required to replace the 12 teachers who retired at the end of the last school year. Fortunately, many of the teachers who retired were receiving significant pay grades thanks to their long tenures.

To some degree, new hires are standard operating procedure for the district as growth is expected each year. Two years ago, according to Patty Murphy, Business Administrator for the Park City School District, the district population did not grow for the first time in around 30 years. To counteract this no-growth potential the district has created the ability to terminate one full-time employee if that person’s services are not necessary.

At the moment, the district plans to assign at least one of those full-time employees to security. A total of $2 million will be devoted to increased security over the next school year. Plans and surveys are still under way to design the new security systems, although the specifics of the new system may not be revealed for some time, if ever.

The district is also gearing up for a possible recession. Built into the budget are increased food costs and, of course, more money for gasoline. The greater issue, however, for the district could be loss of revenue as the money raised is closely tied to real-estate values. Next year’s plan has not been impacted by the real-estate construction drop-off as the projection was made before the current slowdown.

Even if the school district has to raise taxes to make up for dropped home values, the greatest concern the district now faces could be pushed by the state legislature. The state has toyed with capital equalization and could possibly push such a plan through the legislature. Essentially, capital equalization is similar to revenue sharing among baseball teams. Wealthier district might have to share money with other districts that possess far less capital per student. Any such provision would make it exceptionally difficult for the district to plan ahead and add items to the budget.

For the moment, though, the district’s plans appear to be safe for the near future and its plans to expand in the face of a recession should continue forward.

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