The Provo Board of Education adopted a tax initiative resolution Tuesday outlining how the school district plans to inform the public about the initiatives and how passage of the initiatives will impact services and programs in the schools.
"In my opinion we are facing the greatest crisis schools have ever faced in all my years in public service," said David Weight, board member and chairman of the district's tax initiatives task force. Weight has served three terms on the school board.Weight presented to the board cuts the district may face if the tax initiatives pass. If they pass, the district will have to absorb budget cuts of from $4.3 million to $5 million, he said.
The task force suggested the following: modify kindergarten by reducing school time; increase class sizes, even though Utah already has the highest class sizes in the nation; and restrict busing and lunch. But Lynn Smith, business administrator, said the district could save only about $900,000 by reducing or eliminating those programs.
The task force also suggested the district freeze building construction and remodeling and limit upkeep to save money, but Bergera said the district has already made a commitment not to build any new buildings through the year 2000, and "if we don't upkeep the schools we have, it will result in serious problems."
A shortened school year could save a tremendous amount of money, but it "is out of our hands. The Legislature would have to make that decision," Bergera said.
Discontinuing the career ladder program could save $1.4 million, but Weight said many teachers would look for work elsewhere.
The task force said money could be saved by eliminating debate, music, athletics and driver's education or by eliminating or reducing advanced placement courses, special education, vocational instruction and adult education. Students and their parents would be required to pay fees.
The same would go for textbooks and classroom equipment if they were cut from the budget. Weight asked, "How can we function? The district already expends the least per pupil in the nation for textbooks."
Another way of cutting costs would be to reduce teachers, administrators and staff. However, district officials said only 5 percent of the budget would be saved if all administrators were laid off. Since 1979 only two administrators - elementary principals at the district's newest schools, Westridge and Canyon Crest - have been hired, while the district has added 3,500 new students.
The board authorized the district administration to distribute material to educate staff and district parents with the help from the PTA and other interested groups.