Continued increases in school funding could be tied to students' performance in the Murray School District if a proposed two-mill property-tax increase is approved by voters in the Nov. 6 general election.

The board hasn't invoked a leeway tax increase the Legislature has allowed districts to make without a public vote, and members have decided to go to Murray District constituents with the proposal.The district has told the Utah Taxpayers Association that the proposed tax increase, if approved this year, will not be continued unless students show academic progress, said Superintendent Ronald L. Stephens.

The property tax increase would translate to about $17 per year on a $70,000 home, according to district officials.

Although the Legislature gave the local school districts the authority to raise property taxes by two mills without going to the voters, Stephens formed a committee in August that recommended placing the measure on the ballot.

The 13-member committee recommended funds generated from the property tax increase, if adopted, be used to reduce class size, hire additional counselors at the elementary and secondary levels and maintain competitive salary schedules.

"If student learning hasn't improved as a result of increased spending, then the money has been wasted," Stephens said.

A paragraph on the Murray ballot will read: "The Murray Board of Education has made a commitment that the two mills will not remain in force unless there are measurable educational improvements."

The ballot also says that at the end of the 1995-96 school year, a citizen advisory committee will evaluate how well the estimated $360,000 in additional funding helped meet the district's goals.

Stephens said the PTA, the Murray Education Association, classified employees and administrators support the upcoming mill leeway proposal. He said a survey conducted by the PTA shows most parents favor it as well.

But he said the taxpayers association sent out a questionnaire to its Murray members that showed one-third are in favor, one-third are opposed and one-third are neutral.

The Murray district has a history of being conservative with its money, Stephens said. Its current tax levy is 5 mills below Granite and Jordan districts. The last time the district increased property taxes was in the early 1970s.

Stephens said the board will hold seven meetings to inform the community about the proposal.

Murray is attempting to avoid a situation similar to one in Tooele School District. The school board authorized the two-mill increase, but outraged voters collected enough signatures in a petition drive to put the measure on the ballot.



Meetings scheduled

The Murray School Board will hold seven public meetings to inform the community about the proposed two-mill property tax increase:

- Thursday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m., Grant Elementary School, 662 W. Bulldog Circle

- Tuesday, Oct. 23, 6:30 p.m. Liberty Elementary School, 140 W. 6100 South

- Tuesday, Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m., Viewmont Elementary School, 745 W. 5720 South

- Thursday, Oct. 25, 6:30 p.m., Horizon Elementary School, 700 W. 5180 South

- Thursday, Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m., McMillan Elementary School, 315 E. 5900 South

- Tuesday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m., Parkside Elementary School, 495 E. 5175 South

- Thursday, Nov. 1, 7 p.m., Longview Elementary School, 6240 S. Longview Drive