Summit County schools grow slightly
October 3, 2008
Oct. 1 is an important day for schools. It’s the day that they report their official enrollment numbers to the state. The state, in return gives them a certain dollar amount per student. They use the term Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) to describe each student enrolled in school.
The catch is that the school districts finalize their budget about a year in advance, explained Patricia Murphy, business administrator at the Park City School District (PCSD). Murphy said that the State provides the district with their projected enrollment for the next year in November and each district builds their budget based on this number.
If a district’s enrollment is lower than expected, then it won’t receive as much money as they were expected. If more students than expected enroll, the district may have trouble because they have too few teachers hired. In Utah, each district receives $2,577 per student from the state, according to Murphy.
Schools in Summit County this year encountered something of a mixed bag. One district’s estimated numbers were high, one was low, and one was very close to accurate.
Park City School District
This year, the PCSD has 4,480 students enrolled. It was expecting 4,558 students, which means their projection was over by 78 students. Murphy said that this leaves the district about $300,000 short. According to Murphy, the district shouldn’t have a problem absorbing this shortfall because they have a built-in safety net from when the budget was drafted.
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Murphy explained that it’s difficult to predict in advance student enrollment because of the odd economic situation in the country today. Murphy said that Park City saw no big surprises, and doesn’t have any significant problems with inconsistent numbers between grade levels.
South Summit School District
South Summit School District enrolled 1,455 students this year, according to district superintendent Barry Walker. He said the district was anticipating 1,391 students, meaning it will receive a few extra dollars from the state this year. He said that the discrepancy won’t have any major affect on his district, and they don’t have any problems with number of teachers or classroom space.
Walker said that most of the growth in the district is at the elementary level. He said the district has a crowding issue at the elementary issue, but the completion of the middle school addition next year will remedy the problem. Next year, the South Summit fifth-grade classes will move from the elementary school to the middle school.
According to Walker, South Summit always has more students at the beginning of the year, and it expects to see a decline in enrollment as the year progresses. Walker thinks that some families live in Kamas during the warmer months, and then, when winter weather arrives, they move to warmer locations.
North Summit School District
North Summit School District has seen very few changes in student enrollment over the last few years, explained superintendent Steve Carlsen. He said that in the last 10 years, since he was hired by the district, its enrollment hasn’t fluctuated more than 15 students, plus or minus in a single year. Its enrollment hovers around 1,000 students. He said that the district graduated 82 students last year, and welcomed 80 kindergarteners this year.