Public education stands to be hurt worst by the tax initiatives because it is funded from both income and property taxes, both of which are targeted by limitation proposals, the financial officer for the Utah State Board of Education said Friday
Still, the tax limitations would affect different districts in different ways and it is impossible to pinpoint precise impacts, Laurie Chivers said following a board meeting"We cannot, at this point, determine what would happen district to district," she said.
The board, following Gov. Norm Bangerter's directive for all state agencies to identify how reduced budgets might affect them, agreed primarily that local school districts would have the main responsibility for deciding where cuts would have to be made. The state board and office of education would give guidance to the local districts in areas where their statutory and policy directives dictate.
It has not been possible to make any concrete judgments about how cuts could be made because of many questions about how local mill levies would be adjusted and whether the state school apportionment program would have to be altered.
Despite all the unknowns, the board approved a list to be sent to Bangerter outlining where cuts might be made, based on district "shopping lists." Twenty-two of the state's 40 districts sent such lists to the state office, and while there was no solid consensus, several options appeared more frequently, she said.
The office pinpointed nine areas where cuts could be made to reach the $115 million represented by Bangerter's suggested 13 percent reductions. The greatest potential would be in eliminating 1,400 teaching positions for a savings of $42 million. That would require adding one to two students to each classroom in the state, on average. In reality, the number would range from 0 to 8, Chivers said.
Other potential cuts would include: eliminating the so-called 2-mill shift, reducing staffs by 600 to save $18 million; reduce kindergarten by all or half for $14 million; eliminate all or half of the career ladder teacher incentive program for $20.5 million; cut back transportation by $3 million; trim adult education programs for $4 million; eliminate accelerated learning programs for $2 million; and cut vocational education by $10 million.
Other items suggested by the school districts included community school, school lunches, textbooks, programs for the handicapped, extracurricular activities, administration, early graduation programs and drivers' education.
Chivers noted that cutting programs inevitably means elimination positions, since much of the expense of each programs is related to salaries.
The state office would have until the 1989-90 school year to set up budgets reflecting the cuts, Chivers said.
The state office presented a second set of figures reflecting a 13 percent across-the-board cut of each of its programs, including the Office of Rehabilitation, which would lose more than $1.5 million in federal funds if such a cut were made.
The board emphasized that the proposed cuts all are hypothetical. The board was particularly sensitive to the effect taht announcing specific program cuts might have on the morale of those employed in those programs.
"All we really know is that generally, the tax limitations would hurt education," said Board Member Don Christensen.
James R. Moss, state superintendent of public instruction, also pointed out that the matter of dealing with potentially reduced budgets is further complicated by the board's move toward a new strategic plan for education in Utah.
"The office can't respond until we are given direction," he said. The strategic plan, which has been in the development stages for months, was to have been on Friday's agenda, but was postponed.
Board member M. Richard Maxfield, who made the motion to reflect the board's feeling taht local districts would have to deal most directly with the cuts, also said that reform and efficiencies in education could be realized. "But they can't be accomplished in a year."
Voters should realize they are establishing law if they vote for the initiatives, said Board member Darlene Hutchison. The average taxpayer would see only $160 in tax savings, she said, and the effects on education would be devastating.
Proponents of the tax initiatives hase said repeatedly that would be necessitated by passage of the initiatives if the system would be eliminate fat, particualrly in administration, and find more efficient ways to do things.