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School officials: if leeway doesn’t pass, programs could be cut

Article Date: 
1 March, 2013 (All day)

As school district officials make final touches to documents they plan to use when educating the public about the June voted leeway, they have mentioned which programs may suffer if the leeway doesn’t pass.
Advanced Placement, instrumental music and drama are among the programs Superintendent Ken Adams calls “noncore, elective” subjects with low enrollment.  Plans for dual immersion could be another casualty, board member Ken Durrant said.
If the leeway doesn’t pass, “services to students will be cut,” Adams said.
Adams said class sizes will likely increase as well.  Based on data from the Utah Foundations Report and local principals, class sizes in the Morgan School District could be above state average in every elementary grade except third, Adams said.  
“That is a startling statistic,” Adams said. “Those are real numbers.  The public has to understand the consequences of the decision they make.”
The public needs to know such statistics, School Board member Jody Hipwell said.
“People need to know the likelihood of what will be cut,” Hipwell said.  “I don’t think the community understands the cuts that have been made.  They have to understand we are at the bottom.  Now it is going to start impacting the kids.”
Already, some students needing remediation are not getting it, Adams said.  He said he was recently in a fourth grade science classroom with more than 30 students.
“That is not the best for our students,” Adams said.
“I am deeply concerned about our financial situation for this district,” Board member Ken Durrant said.  He said Morgan is one of only seven districts in the state that don’t have a voted leeway.  “This leeway gives us some authority other districts already have.”
By using a 0.000476 tax levy, the board hopes to generate an extra $350,000 for its $13 million operating budget using the leeway. 
He said if the voted leeway doesn’t pass, Plan B includes laying off teachers, cutting programs, and perhaps having to declare bankruptcy.”That is my honest evaluation of what we are doing,” Durrant said.
Even if the leeway passes, it will still be rough going, Adams said.
“Passing the leeway will not make things rosier the first year,” Adams said.  “It is not the primrose path.”
Already, teachers are not getting the training they need because of budget cuts, said Jared Barlow, teacher at Morgan Middle School.  Technology is outdated, and some teachers and students don’t know how to use technology that has already been purchased, he said.  Barlow is also worried about the special education program, especially case loads at Morgan High School.
“What is going on hurts,” Barlow said.  “The impact is huge.  Whatever we can get will help.  Every little thing will help us.”
In an effort to reduce the burden on taxpayers, the district is considering refinancing a portion of the $25 million in bonds secured for Mountain Green Elementary School in 2007.  Refinancing to lower rates could save as much as $508,000, said D’Lynn Poll, district business administrator. 
The school board plans to hold public meetings to explain the voted leeway.