The Park City Board of Education would like to clarify some misguided assumptions:
Accusations of fiscal mismanagement: The statements that $1.5 to 2 million are "missing" from the school district budget are absolutely false.
The 2006 audit, done by an outside auditor, balanced to the penny. The District’s audited financial information is posted on http://www.pcschools.us , and hard copies are available at the District office. It shows 86 percent of the District’s general operating costs pays for salaries, retirement, social security and insurance. But expenses outpaced revenues.
Many factors contributed to the current budget situation: In 2007, one of the biggest was an unpredictable drop in student enrollment revealed after school already began giving us fewer state dollars than expected, but still funding more staff positions than estimated for balanced class size. The school board and administration chose not to disrupt the school year by laying off employees in October.
A rise in health insurance costs and more employees and their families signing up for district health insurance was another considerable cost.
Ignoring the High School was not an option. Major problems with HVAC, lighting, electrical, way finding, etc., mandated finding a solution. With education changing so quickly, a need for a large "monolith" may never exist. Rather than build a large urban school, we chose to retain the current site and remodel a building that will take our students well into the future. It is already becoming a wonderful learning environment.
We have a District-wide capital improvement plan, which includes yearly, prioritized recommendations. We are proud of our facilities and are committed to maintaining them to the standards this community expects. Addressing another concern, money designated to construction costs cannot legally be used for general operating expenses, such as salaries.
PCSD goes to great lengths to hire the most qualified person for any position. The majority of hiring recommendations are made by the principals, through a collaborative process involving teachers, parents and other stakeholders. We have promoted many qualified staff members from within, along with granting movement from school to school. We recognize the outstanding talent in this District, and seek opportunities to support our employees’ professional growth. We will continue to hire and/or place the most highly qualified employees, found from within or outside the District.
The Board of Education and District Administration are addressing issues head-on and responding to community concerns. The past year has been challenging for our school community. Our financial changes have required us to take a deeper look at our programs and how we deliver services. It has been a healthy process, but we realize it has resulted in employee concerns as programs and positions were reviewed.
Park City is still subject to Utah education funding laws, which caps our taxing capability in spite of our robust local economy. Backed by our community’s desire for an outstanding educational system, we use our higher property values to provide better services to our students and to provide our teachers with the highest compensation package in the state, as well as more professional development, planning time and classroom support than any other Utah school district.
We have talented and dedicated educators, and they, along with our students, deserve this level of support.
All five school board members welcome any questions about the budget our precincts and contact information are listed on http://www.pcschools.us. Public school board work sessions and meetings are typically every first and third Tuesday, beginning at 4 p.m., at the District office. We urge the community to contact us we only wish some of our most visible dissenters had.
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Judy Horwitz writes in a guest editorial that Summit County voters must continue to support a vital source of funding for the area’s arts and culture institutions.