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Letter to the Editor - School Levy Tax

Article Date: 
5 April, 2013 (All day)

The Morgan School District brought in consultants to inform them how to get their tax levy approved.  They are certainly following the plan developed and strongly advised by Rich County and that is to bombard and propagandize the public with “it is all for the students, the students will suffer and be deprived unless we have more money.” Even one of our school board members has stated that the district may have to declare “bankruptcy” unless the levy is passed.  It appears to me that the district has learned very well from our present national political organizations and that perhaps even Obama could  probably pick up a few pointers from the school district and the school board.
Here are a few facts that should enlighten us.  From 2005 to 2012, the past eight years, the Morgan property taxes for schools has increased 96.9 percent, which is an average of 12.1 percent per year.  What other entity has had such an increase and then says “we may have to take out bankruptcy?”  The county treasurer turned over to the school district in 2011 $6,262,017.23 and in 2012 $7,032,936.51, which is an increase of $770,919.28 in property taxes for schools over last year.  In addition to the county tax money the district receives from the state $2,846 per student.  The district has 2,587 students, which is an additional $7,362,602.00.  The district receives extra state money for vocational, shop, special ed and other classes that require special equipment/training.  The district has an income of approximately $14.5 million per year.    In property taxes levied by the county and state, 71 percent goes for education and a portion of your state income taxes also goes toward education .  
  Lets look at salaries for 2012, includes benefits: 
Nine administrators – high   $130,386; low $103,962; average $113,384.  Three counselors -- high  $100,076; low $59,795; average $82,146.  114 teachers -  high    $104,055; low $40,323; average $69,239.
  There are about three teachers in the $20,000 and $30,000 range, which I guess are not full time or do not have full loads.  Salaries are probably higher this year.  All in all that is not bad pay for nine months.
It is doubtful that there is a positive correlation between more money and a better education.  If there is such a correlation, then the districts in our country that spend the most money would provide the best education and best outcome, and national testing does not indicate such.  It is often quoted that Utah ranks toward the bottom for per pupil spending but it is never stated that personal income per student is at the bottom and that Utah spends a higher percentage of income per pupil than most states.  In Utah there are more than 51,000 students in charter schools and the state only pays $1,975 per pupil.  Why so many students in charter schools and is their education sub standard?
Schools want more, but when is more enough?  Where does the older retired tax payer turn to satisfy such demands?  His income is fixed and interest returns for retirement savings are about nil.  Must they go without to satisfy the younger generation?  Oh, it is just a couple of hundred dollars more per year, for the rest of their lives.  Does it ever occur that they also might need improvements for their living, car repair, new roof, hospitalization, medicines, new appliances, general upkeep, along with the increased cost of power, gasoline, food, etc?  What you are saying is that some must go without because you want more.  How much is in the reserve or slush fund?  How much is the new athletic facility costing for utilities, maintenance, supervision, etc?  How much has been spent to provide secondary water for the Mountain Green school?  Has fuel consumption for the school buses increased since they are outside and must be warmed up?  Does the district still take multiple buses of middle school students to Ogden to play arcade/video games as a reward for good grades?  Does a team really need to travel to St. George to play a baseball game (driver, bus, food, motel)?  Athletics are important but so is math, science, English, speech, drama, art, technology, etc.  After all what a student primarily takes with him is what he/she learns in the classroom, not in the gym nor from the administration.  How many students ever become professional athletes or even collegiate athletes? 
Why can’t the vice principals teach one class per term?  Even the president of Princeton teaches one class per year.  If there are 2,587 students and approximately 116 teachers, the average is 22.3 students per class.  If enrollment is too big why does the district have an open enrollment policy where they accept students from outside the district?  The parents of such students do not pay Morgan school property tax so the extra burden is placed on county residents.  There are presently 17 such students enrolled.
Needless to say I do not support the additional, for ever, levy tax.  Somehow I think the new athletic facility and bus area is more expensive than budgeted and hoped for and I do not recall tax payers ever being asked if they wanted and would pay for such facilities.  An old wise saying is “happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.”  It is time the school district realizes that people have to live also and that budget restraints on their part must also be made!
~ Charles Crittenden