The Park Record Editorial, May 16, 2009 |

The Park Record Editorial, May 16, 2009

Park City School District needs $4.8 million and your 2 cents

Sacrifice is an essential part of parenting. Whether the demands are for money or time, good parents will set aside their own needs to meet those of their children. And, of course most parents’ top priority is ensuring their children receive a good education.

So it is with a particularly heavy heart that members of the Park City Board of Education are asking school district patrons for input on how to handle a potential $4.8 million budget shortfall over the next two years.

The board has scheduled a town-hall-type meeting in hopes of brainstorming with community members on how to minimize the impact of the shrinking budget on students and teachers.

There are no easy solutions. Thanks to years of stingy oversight by the state legislature, Utah has the dubious reputation of spending less per student than most other states in the country. The Park City School District’s budget is already lean. Any fat there may have been during the city’s real estate heyday has been absorbed by enrollment growth and a local emphasis on quality teachers and programs.

In fact, the Park City School District was one of the first in the state to ask voters to approve a special tax, over and above the maximum levy allowed by the state, to augment funds for local schools. The voters answered with a resounding "Yes."

But even with the voted leeway funds, the Park City School District is faced with significant revenue reductions. Due to the plunging real-estate market, property-tax revenues for this year and next are likely to be less than anticipated. Checks that come from the state for teaching grants, retirement benefits and student transportation will also be much smaller.

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Cuts are inevitable. But with help from the public, the school board hopes to come up with creative ways to make the most of what they have. The one asset the Park City School District can count on not shrinking is the energy and commitment of local parents. The meeting will take place Wednesday, May 20, at 7 p.m. at Park City High School, 1750 Kearns Blvd. Plan on attending and adding at least 2 cents to the discussion.