After about two weeks as head of the Alpine School District, Steven Baugh is still a little nervous, especially when he thinks of the financial problems the district may face next year.
At the top of his worry list is the possibility that Utahns will approve three tax initiatives scheduled to appear on the November ballot. Alpine stands to lose $9.5 million to $10.8 million if they pass."Even though we don't know for sure what's going to happen, I think people deserve to know what may happen if we lose that money. It's not a threat. It's not a scare tactic. When they cast that vote, we'd just like them to be informed," he said. "There will be programs that our patrons and students and employees have come to feel are very, very important that will no longer be in place if those initiatives pass."
Baugh would not say what programs could be dropped from Alpine's curriculum. A budget committee will begin meeting within two weeks to develop a contingency plan for dealing with revenue losses, and patrons should be informed by September what programs that group will recommend the district cut.
Baugh did say any program the Legislature decides not to fund statewide likely will be cut by Alpine. The district could not afford to maintain any part of the curriculum not supported by the state.
District finances is just one of countless issues the new superintendent has had to immerse himself in since he took over the job of retiring Superintendent Clark Cox on July 1.
Assimilating all that information has kept Baugh busy for about 12 hours every day, and the former American Fork High School principal said he was surprised to discover just how challenging the job is.
"Out in the schools we have this perception of the superintendent having all these hours to plan in-service meetings. The reality is, it's just one telephone call or appointment or decision after another, and that's maybe one of the biggest things I've learned," he said. "I just wouldn't have even supposed that I'd come in at quarter to seven in the morning and go home at quarter to seven in the evening."
Baugh, though, doesn't mind too much. He said he already has discovered more about the district than he thought possible.
"One of the things I've learned is that as a principal out there, we can't understand why the district has all these rules and regulations. There are two sides to virtually every story. It's not us against them.
"If there was something I could say to the employees, it would be: `Trust people. Don't believe all you hear. Don't assume that because a person has such and such a position that they're against us."'
Baugh will try to deal with some of those feelings when he begins contract negotiations this month with Alpine Education Association officials. He hopes to improve teacher morale in the district, and though he would not discuss specifics, he said some aspects of the 1988-89 contract may address that problem.
"My philosophy will be that many of the employees will feel better about the decisions than they have in the past several years," he said.
But Baugh warned against the notion that every gripe an employee may have is going to be eliminated.
"With the change of the administration, people have the idea that it will immediately change; all will be well, but that is just very unlikely, because some things are going so well as they are," he said. "I just can't be `a nice guy' all the time."