Guest editorial: Park City Board of Education to teach community about taxes | ParkRecord.com

Guest editorial: Park City Board of Education to teach community about taxes

The Park City Board of Education: Andrew Caplan, president, JJ Ehlers, vice president, Petra Butler, member, Erin Grady, member, Anne Peters, member

The mission of Park City School District is to inspire and support all students equitably to achieve their academic and social potential. As a Board of Education, we have been elected to represent the interests of our collective community — we have heard and appreciate the community's desire to create an educational culture that is focused on the whole child. We make decisions based on keeping our students safe, supported, engaged, challenged, and healthy.

With the new school year beginning in less than two weeks, we are thrilled that all teacher positions are filled. The biggest benefit we offer new teachers is a competitive salary, the highest in the state. At the same time, we increased compensation for returning teachers, support staff, and administrators to encourage them to stay long-term.

Our strength is in our people. We are fortunate to have outstanding staff who genuinely care about students and aspire every school year to help students achieve their potential. Employee compensation and benefits comprise nearly 80 percent of our expenditures. The gap between higher expenditures and neutral revenues is growing. Because local property taxes make up more than 90 percent of our income we knew we recognized we needed to increase taxes.

The last time we raised taxes was 2014. We firmly believe that access to a quality education is a foundation to the strength of our community, and we know our community wants to invest in education.

Our FY19 budget reflects several critical needs. Besides hiring and retaining excellent personnel, safety and security is also a priority for us. We have added interventionist (sic) at each elementary school to work with struggling students. And we have hired an additional assistant principal at Ecker Hill Middle, Treasure Mountain Junior High, and Park City High.

This year, approximately $5 million in property taxes will be sent in equalization funding to the state to be distributed to revenue strapped districts such as Alpine, Davis, Nebo, and Jordan. We are the only district in Utah that collects more money than we are authorized to receive. Last year, we sent $3 million back to the state for equalization. Recent legislation now requires that we send an additional $2 million back to the state.

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In an effort to provide an equitable education for all our students, the district will now cover the cost of academic student fees. That's nearly $700,000 in fees, which parents have paid for in past years.

Some community members have expressed concern about the compensation package for our new superintendent. We are incredible (sic) fortunate to have hired an experienced, student-centered and future-focused leader. The proposed tax increase does not include her salary or housing benefits. That is already covered under our existing budget.

We realize tax increases are never easy. We have been judicious in approving this budget and have spent many months reviewing data that supports the goals of our Strategic Plan.

Our Truth-in-Taxation hearing is set for Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 6 p.m. at the District Office, and is your chance to voice your opinion before the tax increase is finalized.

Thank you for your continued support of education. We are all partners in ensuring our children achieve their highest academic and social potential.