On the heels of recent controversial budget cuts, the Jordan Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to approve what officials are calling a "bare-bones" budget for fiscal 1988-89 that includes $4.3 million in reductions.
The budget does not require any tax hikes, said Raymond Whitten-burg, Jordan District superintendent. "The tax rate will remain at 45.39 mills, the same as it has been since 1985."In contrast to the May 24 meeting at which parents, teachers and students packed the board room to protest the budget cuts, about 25 people were in attendance Tuesday night. Only five spoke to the board concerning the budget.
"It's time to look at the budget a little more carefully," said Jackie Christensen, Jordan Education Association president. "The children are the ones now being hurt by the cuts made in education."
The budget cuts approved last month will, among other things, eliminate 52 teaching positions in the district, increase the size of every classroom by an average of one student, decrease funding for the special education and the gifted/talent-ed programs and eliminate 22 media coordinator jobs.
"We will have difficult budgets until the economy of the state turns around," said board member Don A. Carpenter. "We're doing our best to balance the budget."
In the budget statement, Whitten-burg said the budget does not include money for salary increases nor does it cover the full increase in the cost of premiums for employee health and accident insurance.
"As a result, we must be prepared to deal with a certain amount of patron and employee dissatisfaction as this budget is implemented."
Christensen said she believes parents should be approached to help fund their children's education with a leeway to raise taxes for education. "Maybe it's time we challenged the parents . . . and put it to a vote," she said.
Carpenter said he does not believe the timing for a tax increase is right but said he would be very willing to poll voters to see if they would be willing to vote for a tax increase.
Linda G. Neff, another board member, said her phone has been ringing "right off the hook" with people saying they would not vote for a tax leeway. She said there are many groups that all see different solutions to the problems the district is facing.
"The job of the board is to look at things on an overall level," she said, adding that the board has tried to do just that.
"We have to look at the total picture and not just the special interests that keep coming forward," Carpenter said.
Board President Maurine Jensen reiterated the difficulty she said the board has faced during the past months in putting the budget together. "We are sick, sick, sick about the cuts," she said. "This is a very painful thing. And it is going to affect the students."
Paulina Flint of the Alta View Elementary PTA told the board her organization is having to fulfill jobs that the district is eliminating. Employees are doubling as school nurses, yet they don't have the knowledge or experience, she said. "Where do we draw the line?"
"There is nothing left to cut," Flint said. "The PTA is always picking up the pieces. It won't work anymore."