State legislators can expect a philosophical assualt shortly from Alpine School District officials, who say their district is suffering from unusual financial problems.
Alpine Superintendent Steven Baugh and members of the board of education plan to pressure the Legislature into addressing the needs of a handful of Utah school districts that are experiencing rapid growth and at the same time have low property values, large debts and low per-student expenditures."Alpine truly is in a unique situation in terms of funding," Baugh said during a board meeting Tuesday in Vineyard Elementary School. "We would like to petition the Legislature to take a look at the districts that are in this unique situation. We're not proposing a massive building campaign. In fact, we're trying to be very frugal with dollars in the Alpine School District."
Baugh said the Legislature has in the past recognized the financial problems of the state's smallest school districts by allocating extra funds for them. Similar programs must be started for districts that have many students but low property values.
Administrators have begun their campaign by sending letters that outline the problem to lawmakers. In it Baugh says Alpine has the highest student-teacher ratio of any of Utah's 40 school districts. Alpine ranks 39th in expenditures per student and in number of certified personnel and administrators per 1,000 students.
"We pledge our support in Alpine School District to continue to try to operate efficiently and productively, but it comes to a point when we wonder how much longer we can continue to do more and more for less and less," Baugh said in the letter. "We need the state to use the surpluses it has for services. The majority of Utah voters want increased funding for public education. There is not a mandate for lower taxes if it means lower levels of services.
"We are strongly in opposition to any tax rebate - be it $19 million or whatever - we feel we are in a period of great need and would hope that the Legislature would recognize that need and use those funds to improve and increase services."
The district is growing by about 900 students per year, and that trend is expected to continue for the next five years. Baugh said the growth is equivalent to an additional elementary school each year. Alpine spends $2,080 per student every year, while the state average is $2,371 and the national average is $3,752.
Alpine School goals
What the Alpine School District wants the 1989 Legislature to do:
- Maintain critical-building aid fund.
- Increase the value of weighted pupil unit - what the state gives the district for each student.
- Fund enrollment growth.
- Increase or maintain career ladder funds for teachers who perform additional work.
- Fund increased insurance costs.
- Fund asbestos removal.
- Drop requirement that districts pay additional funds to retirement board.
- Allow public employees to receive 2 percent in retirement program for each year of service.