Having spent 13 years as the superintendent of schools in Morgan County, I understand the pressing need for additional revenues that the school district is currently experiencing. Morgan is consistently in the bottom 25 percent of Utah school districts when it comes to expenditures and revenues per student. Last school year, the district ranked 34th out of 41 when considering all expenditures as well as the daily operations budget. With the exception of Juab School District, all other district with less money per student were much larger than Morgan (Alpine, Box Elder, Davis, Jordan, Nebo) and thus enjoy the advantages provided by the economy of scales.
Morgan School District is in a unique situation in that it seldom benefits from many of the special funding programs offered through the Utah State Legislature and the federal government. Most programs generate funds based on special populations. When a district has virtually no minorities, one of the lowest free/reduced lunch rates, relatively few students involved in special education, and maintains relatively large schools, there is simply no special funding available.
One opportunity given to the districts in the State of Utah is to ask tax payers for additional revenue through a voted leeway. All but seven districts have successfully taken advantage of that opportunity. With the exception of Uintah, the districts are much smaller than Morgan and do benefit from some of the special funding programs mentioned above.
We do have the ability to pay in order to maintain the quality of education currently available in our county. Our taxable value per student is slightly higher than the state’s average (ranks 22nd of 41 districts). Our property tax rate to support education is also slightly higher than the state’s average (ranks 20th out of 41). Our household income level in Morgan County is one of the highest in the state, largely due to the educational level and thus economic success of the residents.
Please don’t confuse the general fund (daily operating expenses) with capital funds. The district is already using whatever is legally permissible from capital to support the general fund. Whether or not you agree with the construction of the Trojan Center, it has no impact upon the need for revenue in the general fund.
Please join my wife and me in voting for Proposition #1 on June 25.
~ Ron Wolff