Teachers’ salaries: Good news first
Public school teachers were among the biggest beneficiaries of the Legislature’s session that ended last week. In a move cheered by both citizens and politicians, lawmakers increased funding for teacher salaries by $68.7 million and threw in another $33 million of one-time funds for good measure. School administrators figure that is enough money to give every teacher in the state a $1,000 bonus and a $2,500 pay hike. (The state also pitched in $7 million for school employees like secretaries, custodial staff and lunch ladies.)
Most of the hard-working employees we know would be grinning from ear to ear if they heard they were about to get a bump like that on their paychecks. But, so far, we haven’t heard much celebrating among teachers in the Park City School District.
Instead, teachers are listening intently to the current School Board meetings, where administrators are trying to find ways to cut a runaway budget that has begun to outpace revenues. The teachers are especially on the lookout for any cuts that might impact them, like bigger class sizes, smaller retirement benefits and fewer hours of teacher prep time during the day.
Unfortunately, those are the kinds of sacrifices many taxpayers are already facing at their own businesses.
At the risk of offending a very vocal special interest group, it is necessary to point out that this community, in particular, and now the Legislature have made teachers’ salaries a priority at a time when many taxpayers in other professions are seeing substantial cuts in benefits and are shouldering heavier workloads as companies try to run leaner operations.
It would be refreshing to see local teachers offer to share some of the burden of Park City’s current budget challenge. It would be nice, too, to hear a few teachers acknowledge the Legislature’s action by making a commitment to prove they have earned this substantial raise.
Park City residents and this newspaper continue to support increased funding for education, from full-day kindergarten through college, even when it means increasing our property taxes. It is irrefutable that today’s teachers are presented with a multitude of challenges, from meeting federal testing standards to bilingual classrooms. But overcoming economic hurdles is not unique to the education sector and we are looking to teachers to help find new ways to meet those challenges.
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Skier, mountaineer, environmental activist and Park City resident Caroline Gleich writes that Andy Beerman’s commitment to the climate is vital to Park City’s future.