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The impact of community support

Dale Thompson, Of the Record staff

Park City School District is unique for a number of reasons, one of those being the level of support it gets from the community.

Since 2001, the Park City Education Foundation has raised $2 million for the school district. Among other things, the money has gone to help fund a math specialist, the middle school International Baccalaureate program, the full-day kindergarten and the Park City High School scholarship counselor.

Last week, as part of its field trip series, the foundation hosted an information session about the importance of community support for education.

District Business Administrator Patty Murphy gave an overview of funding sources and the resources the Park City School District has at its disposal.

Fourteen percent of the school district’s funding comes from the state. Much of it is in the form of what is called a weighted pupil unit, or money spent per child. The current value of the WPU is $2,417. More money is provided for special education students and approximately $1,200 is given to the district for kindergarten students. The number is not tied to enrollment.

"We have enrollment declines, we have enrollment increases. It does not affect the value of the WPU," Murphy said.

Utah spends the least amount of money per pupil of any of the states, said Murphy. In 2003 the national average for expenditures per pupil was approximately $8,000. Utah spends $5,000 while Park City spends a little over $6,000.

With 75 percent of funding for the Park City School District coming from property tax, Parkites have more control over what they can offer. This is one thing, Murphy said, that makes the district, "unique in the state and across the country."

"You want a certain program in the schools, you take it to the School Board and go through the process and voila," she said.

The income and education level of Parkites also plays a role.

"The kids have incredible access to adults with an education, who convey that to the students," said Director of the Education Foundation Lynn Heinlein.

Murphy reported that, in 2000, the number of adults in Summit County with a bachelor’s degree or above was at 45.5 percent, compared to the state at 26.1 percent and the United States at 24.4 percent.

The Education Foundation is hoping to raise more than $1 million this year and encourages people to contribute $180, which amounts to $1 for every day that one student is in school.

The next Park City Education field trip will be held on Oct. 18 at McPolin Elementary School. The topic is full-day kindergarten and a time has yet to be determined.


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