School fees: Is Utah really family friendly?

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  • tanderson83 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 30, 2014 8:47 a.m.

    So on the one hand this lady complains about the government paying to waive her school fees, but then complains because she wants the government to pay her school fees. I hope she realizes the ridiculousness of her article.

    Aug. 29, 2014 1:07 p.m.

    Since you have 9 children, you probably have never paid income taxes. Since the rest of us do - and a portion of those taxes go to educate your children, how can you complain that you have to pick up a portion of the bill?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:34 a.m.

    Bottom line... "Family Friendly" does NOT mean you don't have to pay your kid's way.

  • SpiritoftheWillow Provo, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 10:07 p.m.

    I cannot find any support for your claim that Wyoming spends 81% of its money on education. In fact, all of the studies I find show that Utah spends a larger percentage of its budget on education than Wyoming does. Wyoming just has fewer students to spend it on. says Utah spends 34% and Wyoming 29%.

  • Atilla de Hun Sandy, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 10:05 p.m.

    I'm curious how the article's author equates a MINIMUM of an additional $12,000 per student - I say minimum, because we all know how notoriously "efficient" passing money from taxpayers to "end users" via government bureaucrats can be (I'd be surprised if the actual figure wasn't nearly double that) - in taxes taken from families is more "family friendly" than the families actually using the services paying a few hundred dollars in fees for the ELECTIVE services they're consuming.

    I would think a life lesson in self-reliance and responsibility would be a good thing..

  • Atilla de Hun Sandy, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 9:52 p.m.

    I'm curious how the article's author equates a MINIMUM of an additional $12,000 per student - I say minimum, because we all know how notoriously "efficient" passing money from taxpayers to "end users" via government bureaucrats can be (I'd be surprised if the actual figure wasn't nearly double that) - in taxes taken from families is more "family friendly" than the families actually using the services paying a few hundred dollars in fees for the ELECTIVE services they're consuming.

    I would think a small life lesson in self-reliance and responsibility would be a good thing..

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 5:52 p.m.

    To those like liberal ted and others who continually preach about the high administrative costs in Utah education, please note that those administrative costs are among the lowest in the country as a fraction of total education costs.

  • factoid Ogden, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 5:19 p.m.

    Definitely worth thinking about. We can always learn something from others - even neighboring states.

    A wise man once said: "Wise men learn from fools. Fools learn from nobody."

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 3:35 p.m.

    @Nettie Francis "...the number of students per total population is surprisingly similar between the two states, with Wyoming students making up 17 percent of the population and Utah students 22 percent."

    So do the math. Wyoming's 2012 population was 576,412; Utah's 2012 population was 2,855,000. Multiply by the percentages given above, and you get --

    Wyoming: 97990 students
    Utah: 628,100 students

    Utah is serving more than 6 times the number of students on about 2 times the tax revenues.

    That's a big difference.

  • Dragline Orem, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 3:21 p.m.

    Joe Blow you can't have a one-way rationale about the give and take of large families. If you are going to say "The point of my math was to show this Mom how much she was getting" then you also have to say how much she is giving.

    She is raising nine kids who will be paying taxes and our Medicare and SS, and according to you the amount would "probably be a lot." My intent was to show YOU that we as a society will be benefiting from her hard work in raising nine intelligent, hard-working kids to adulthood. Very few families give as much to society as this family is giving. Very few people work this hard to provide for the future of our communities, country, and species.

    And who knows, maybe these children may grow up to be good fathers, mothers, neighbors, teachers, construction workers, doctors, and engineers themselves. Maybe they will cure cancer or be the Mozart to your Salieri.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 2:59 p.m.

    It's so confusing. There seems to be two sets of books/reports we get from the USOE (Utah State Office of Education).

    When they are trying to make the case that they are doing a great job, and we should keep THEM running our educations system... they show reports that say our students are doing better this year. But when they want more money... they show reports with scores going down.

    If our education is the worst in the nation... shouldn't we fire every teacher AND administrator? I mean they are PROVIDING the WORST education in the NATION!

    We can't fire our students... they are what they are. If they are getting the WORST education (as some teachers proclaim)... then the teachers giving them that terrible education should be fired!

    You can blame it on your pay... but if you are really giving our kids the worst education in the Nation...maybe we need different teachers.

    IMO whether you get paid enough or not... you do your BEST.

    If your BEST is the worst in the nation... we need different teachers.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 2:21 p.m.

    Maybe the question should be, can Utah do better than it is doing? You've got the kids, now invest in them. Utah is, after all, near the bottom in per pupil expenditures. Low taxes has consequences.

    Aug. 27, 2014 2:07 p.m.

    I'm curious why someone with 10 children would move someplace without gathering a little bit of information about the schools first. That's the first thing I did when we moved into our current neighborhood; and I only had 3.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 27, 2014 2:06 p.m.

    "Really. Finish what you started."

    Much tougher math. It would probably be a lot.

    But, that is not the point.

    The point of my math was to show this Mom, how much she was getting.

    Very few families get as much educational benefit as her family. Very few people pay as little for the education as her family.

    Instead of celebrating what a great benefit she gets, she complains about what little she does have to pay.

    Her kids may turn out to be rich taxpayers. But then again... maybe not.

  • MmmmWwww Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 1:53 p.m.

    A quick and dirty internet search shows some vast differences between Utah and Wyoming--1) In 2012, Wyoming had $2.5 billion in state revenues and Utah had $5.8 billion; and 2) In 2013, Wyoming had a population of 582 thousand and Utah had a population of 2.9 million. (I am assuming that the one-year difference of my quick and dirty internet search is not significant). Thus, Utah has roughly double the revenues of Wyoming and roughly 5 times the population of Wyoming. My point from all this is that Utah and Wyoming are so vastly different economically that they aren't comparable. I don't disagree that class sizes need to be decreased and that teacher salaries could be higher. I concur with comments questioning whether the state should give each student a laptop and an iPad. Two questions that I have as I ponder where a solution might be are: 1) Can the comments about bloated school administration be substantiated? 2) How is Utah's total tax burden compared to the other fifty states (income tax, sales tax, property tax, etc.) I feel like all solutions are undesirable--encouraging smaller families or higher taxes or more drilling and mining revenues from beautiful southern Utah or a lottery.

  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 1:49 p.m.

    Maybe it is time I say something! I get so sick of the attitude in this state. I am single and I have never had children. Tell me, why is it ok to tax me at a higher rate just because I have no children? People here have this attitude that they shouldn't have to pay for another's children to go to school. Well, they don't complain when they pay less taxes, do they! Maybe they should take it away. No, it isn't the most family friendly state. They complain about helping the sick and the handicapped! They even cut from Human Services as much funding as they can and they tax for education, but it doesn't seem to get used for it. Oh, but don't you know, the families and churches are suppose to help those in need. It certainly does not surprise me to learn that we are at the bottom of the list when it comes to education. It makes you wonder if they really want the children educated at all!

  • Dragline Orem, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 1:29 p.m.

    @JoeBlow Nope JB, I don't have a large family, just one daughter and one son. Both went to Univ of Denver (DU) so I don't even use Utah colleges. And that's also why I know that Utah high school students, with the exception of Park City, are far behind their peers in other states when competing at a private college.

    I work for a eminent software company in Utah and see all the jobs going to young people from other states. Many come here from BYU but they got their K through 12 education in other states, which is why they were accepted to BYU. I have also seen my children struggle to get even with kids educated in other states when they meet up at DU.

    But to the question at hand: How about completing your math from the previous post and see how many millions these nine kids from an intelligent, engaged mother will pay in taxes during their lifetime. Really. Finish what you started.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 12:54 p.m.

    "Do you really think the children of this educated mother are going to burden society over their lifetimes? "

    Statistically poorer families tend to have more kids on average and conservatives seem to think 47% of Americans are moochers so... by conservative logic, yes.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 27, 2014 12:50 p.m.


    Let me guess. You also have a large family?

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    Aug. 27, 2014 12:50 p.m.

    Hey FT -

    "The commute from Evanston is only about 80 miles. One may consider if the transportation costs and superior education are cheaper than the school fees."

    Why should the Evanston Wyoming School system accept disadvantaged beggars from Utah?

    Will Wyoming have to patrol it's western border to keep Utahns out?

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 12:41 p.m.

    Cry me a river, 7 kids in school at 7k per kid is almost 50k per year. An average sized family in an average funding state would be 2 kids at 11k per kid, less than half the cost. Someone's gotta pay that excess in states with larger average size families (Utah being the most extreme in the nation) but it doesn't happen so the per kid funding in Utah is lower than the other states. It'd be a lot closer to states like Vermont or Massachusetts when accounting for family size alone since that's almost a factor of 2 difference.

  • flatlander Omaha, NE
    Aug. 27, 2014 12:41 p.m.

    Looks like Utah is a pay for what you use state, not a bad idea. Why make everybody pay for band or basketball when only a few use it. Heck she has nine kids at home so a large class in school should feel homey.

  • newmexicogirl Los Alamos, NM
    Aug. 27, 2014 12:36 p.m.

    Standing ovation! We can learn so much from others who are doing it well...let's not sell ourselves short just because we've "always done it that way". There is always opportunity for progress and improvement!

    We were surprised when we moved to NM from IL that we DIDN'T have school fees to pay! In IL we ALWAYS had to pay for our kids to go to public school.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Aug. 27, 2014 12:09 p.m.

    $250 for two kids in junior high?

    Dang -- what a screaming deal. Try California. It's more here.

  • Dragline Orem, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 11:56 a.m.

    I am amused by the knee-jerk defense of Utah's schools in these comments: a lot of "well you in Wyoming have oil revenue," or "our school's are the greatest," or "I am already paying too much in taxes." Or Mayfair who equates funding education and 21st century tools (iPads, laptops) with a 'government handout.' Priceless logic--but I will let others breakdown these short-sighted arguments. I want to confront those haranguing this intelligent, involved mother for having nine children.

    JoeBlow. All the math on how much it takes to educate kids but stop your incisive calculations when these kids are educated, buying products for a new family, and supporting you in retirement by paying your government handouts of Medicare and SS? Do you really think the children of this educated mother are going to burden society over their lifetimes?

    There are many young adults today, including my son, who are afraid of your "they chose to have children so let them pay for them" mantra and are choosing not to have children, agreeing with your logic. They also expect you to pay for your own old age care--they didn't make you get old.

  • Mongoose Poway, CA
    Aug. 27, 2014 11:50 a.m.

    I could be wrong, but I doubt that the share that this woman's family contributes to the state's revenue via taxes comes even close to the benefits they are receiving. Happy that I kept my spending to a minimum while I vacationed there.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 11:14 a.m.

    In regards to Wyoming, it is only recently have they stepped and spend this much money on education. They are taking the boon in oil and other energy and putting into the schools. I would like to compare Wyoming to Utah in about 10 years in test scores and see which state is doing better, the state reducing class size and funding education or the state that won't. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  • apenny BLANDING, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 11:01 a.m.

    Wyoming spends more per pupil than almost any other state in the nation and yet it's merely average when ranked academically. Yes, the high schoolers get laptops and that is very fun and cool, but is it contributing to an overall better education? The data says no.

    Furthermore, having just moved to Wyoming from Utah, I think the money complaint is a little ridiculous. Yes, education is more funded here. But when we compare housing prices and grocery prices and a whole host of other things, $125 per child for a few school fees is nothing. I'm betting a person can save more than that a month shopping for 11 people at cheaper grocery stores, such as Winco, available on the Wasatch front.

  • Daniel L. Murray, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 10:49 a.m.

    Utah has a large population of children, more than most states per capita. Our tax base is heavily taxed. There are no deductions for property tax. Other (expanding) public services also have their demands on tax dollars.

    Utah is a growth state, we all have to do with a little less as demand is always ahead of services. That includes classrooms will be crowded, roads will have pot holes, roads are too narrow, and there will never be enough money to go around.

    Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or do without.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 10:46 a.m.

    The commute from Evanston is only about 80 miles. One may consider if the transportation costs and superior education are cheaper than the school fees.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    Aug. 27, 2014 10:23 a.m.

    Hey mufasta –

    “We have one of the most efficient educational models in the country considering amount spent per pupil vs academic achievement”

    Oh I see . . . So Utah had found a way to pay very little money to provide an education for its children that is ALMOST adequate.

    Good for you.

    “Makes one wonder the motivation behind writing this article.”

    . . . Not really.

    Ever hear of “Social Responsibility?” . . . How about “Civic Duty?”

    Look it up.

  • Mayfair City, Ut
    Aug. 27, 2014 10:08 a.m.

    from article: “Please look into the fee waiver form instead,” they suggested. (Really? This conservative state encourages taking a government handout over old-fashioned work?) Although I discovered that our family did indeed qualify for fee waivers (Who doesn’t?), the independent inside of me didn’t allow such a move."

    Although I understand that this mother is upset with all the mandatory school fees in Utah--I am too--I found this part very humorous:

    "..while Wyoming spent over $19,000...It certainly didn’t help my children’s morale when they recently heard from Wyoming friends that high school freshmen had each received an iPad, while the sophomores through seniors were each given a new laptop."

    On the one hand, this woman doesn't want to take a 'government handout' & then goes on to extoll the virtues of the 'government handout' in Wyoming schools.

    Just thought it very funny she abhors taking handouts if its obvious--& doesn't mind at all if it seems a part of her Wyoming schools. SOMEBODY, somewhere, is paying for those kids in Wyoming to have free iPads & laptops given to them.

  • DHScientist SLC, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    Fantastic article!! My parents never let us take waivers or free lunch. We worked off every fee we couldn't pay. The world needs more of that.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Aug. 27, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    The bald fact is that Utah (the so-called best-managed state) does not have "one of the best education systems in the country," and it's not the fault of the teachers. With our demographic we should lead the nation in educational performance, but we stagnate in the mediocre range because we WON'T pay the price.

    Last in the nation in funding is a terrible wound that will not heal.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    Maybe the letter writer is confused. The State being "family friendly" doesn't mean you won't have to pay for what your kids do (go to school, participate in activities, etc). The phrase "family friendly" isn't about money. Being "family friendly" means we encourage families (but you still have to pay the bills). You will still have to pay a little for each child and for activities they want to be involved in (even in a "family friendly" State).

    The State being predominately "Conservative" also doesn't mean you won't have to pay for the things your kids do. Or that we will tax somebody else to pay for what your kids do. But being "Conservative" IS about money. It means the State will tax you as little as they possibly can... and individual families will have to care for themselves more than in a State where they will take it from another family so you don't have to pay for it.

    Some people criticize Utah incessantly because they don't charge families MORE for each child. We aren't into that. But we also aren't into taxing somebody else to pay your fees.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 27, 2014 8:16 a.m.

    Ms Francis,

    Are you serious?

    You have 9 children. At $7000 per school year per child, you will have received over $750,000 worth of education if you send all of your kids to public school for 12 years.

    I presume that you have 11 deductions. Do you think that the taxes that you pay cover anywhere near that?

    And you are complaining about paying some additional fees?

    Gotta tell you. That takes some gall.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 8:14 a.m.

    I thought conservatives believe in personal responsibility.

    If you make the choice to have lots of kids then it is your responsibility to provide for them. Why should everyone else have to fork over more so you can pay less? You chose to have 9 kids, and while I'm all for contributing to the common pool for education (via tases), I shouldn't have to pay more for your kids so you can pay less.

    You do make a good point about the way Utah manages its educational system here though, it is definitely a joke. The legislature would rather spend million on pet projects, payoffs (Herberts freeway scandal), defending "message bills" and fighting equality rather than put that money to good use educating the kids of Utah.

  • jody OREM, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    I agree with Noodlekaboodle; the reason we have such high school fees is because of large families the tax base cannot support. If you'd like to not pay school fees, move to any other state where families are generally smaller.

  • MaxPower Eagle Mountain, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 8:03 a.m.

    Utah talks the game, but when it comes time to walk the walk, it fails.

    It essentially takes two incomes to raise a family...yet the wife belongs in the home.

    We tell kids to get an education "Be Smart" from President Hinckley...yet we want to cut Student loans. So those that would benefit most from an education (the one making minimum wage selling you cheap groceries at Walmart) cannot advance in life. And when he asks for help to feed his family...we call him lazy and try to cut his food stamps.

    We are pro-life...until the mother who probably cannot afford to feed her child needs assistance. But when the baby is born, the Relief Society will bring meals for a week.

    We are trying to make a same-sex family anything but a family. But don't call me Monday nights...
    Alcohol rips apart families...but prescription drug abuse is ok.

  • isrred South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 8:00 a.m.

    You CHOSE to have 9 kids, perhaps you should take some personal responsibility and contribute toward their education.

    I have no kids, and I am more than happy to contribute my tax dollars towards a public education system to provide for a growing economy and educated populace. However, there is no reason that you--the person contributing to the stress on the system by having large families and taking more tax deductions for dependents--shouldn't contribute as well.

  • Delcore Draper, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 8:00 a.m.

    What is the difference between asking for a fee waiver and getting school services without a fee. They both come from the government. I think the idea of schools giving away computer equipment is ridiculous. Why is it OK to take other people's money in the form of taxes and give them to others in the form of computer equipment. The featured Mother says she wants to be independent, but at the same time is complaining that the government is not giving her kids computers.

  • Lindsay Payson, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 7:58 a.m.

    Should have gone with the fee waiver. Maybe you could read yesterday's article on homeschooling. One mom said she only spends $150 for curriculum for the year. Sure, all the extra activities to help your kids socialize will be spendy. Maybe you should move back to Wyoming before high school as the fees are higher. Or join in fundraising efforts at school or petition the state legislature. Without PTA watchdogs the schools would have less money because everyone is after the trust lands money.

  • Lee J. Siegel Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 7:32 a.m.

    I, too, disliked the fees when my stepkids were in school. But people with lots of kids get tax breaks that more than make up for the fees.

  • KathyInCache North Logan, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 7:21 a.m.

    Amen, sister! And if your child should want to join the marching band? out! We will end up paying over a $1000 this year for just one of ours for mandatory and extracurricular fees.

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 7:12 a.m.

    Instead of fees, the education system needs to learn how to be efficient. They are top heavy administration and lack teachers. The focus should be on adding teachers. Removing unruly students.

    Over half of our property taxes go to the schools. Along with monies collected from Utah lands etc. They have a huge budget.

    The solution they come up with every year is more money. For example, I had a teacher that came in with a hang over most days. She would wear her sweat pants, dark sunglasses and put her head down on her desk. She would have a student turn out the light and put a movie in. That was my class. Now explain how paying this teacher more is going to help? Now if you have a skilled teacher, that loves teaching and students are engaged. Then it makes sense to pay more to keep that student.

  • mufasta American Fork, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 7:10 a.m.

    This article is funny in its, not so thinly veiled, attempts to convince readers that we need to spend even more money on education in Utah. The assertion that we need to spend as much as Wyoming is ridiculous. We have one of the most efficient educational models in the country considering amount spent per pupil vs academic achievement. This article encourages us to spend more money per pupil to marginalize academic returns. I wonder if the author of the article has family members that are teachers? Makes one wonder the motivation behind writing this article.

  • loraleechoate Logan, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 6:57 a.m.

    I am not throwing tomatoes, I am standing up clapping! This needed to be said. I spent almost $1000 to register my three kids for school this year and also get frustrated by every single point you made.

    If you decide to run for a position in the state educational board YOU HAVE MY VOTE.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    Aug. 27, 2014 6:38 a.m.

    The State of Wyoming has a booming economy because of its vast fossil fuel industry.

    And it rakes in a lot more money in taxes per capita than Utah because of that.

    The only way Utah will be able to match Wyoming's public school system is to raise taxes . . . Or find some other way to generate revenue.

    Abstaining from lottery participation is a bad move for Utah.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 5:56 a.m.

    I don't get this lady. You move to a state where many people feel it's necessary to have 10 kids. You even comment how much you like the fact that you are not the only one with an oversized family. Then you complain that the schools don't have enough, why do you think the schools have no money? And the ironic thing is, because I only have one kid, I end up paying way more in taxes, don't get a fee waiver, don't get free lunch, I don't qualify for any programs. Which makes sense, the fewer kids you have, the more you should pay so someone else can have 9 kids then complain the schools aren't good enough.