This Tuesday, June 18th at 6pm the Alpine School District will be voting on the proposed budget for next year. The Alpine School District (the District) is the largest school district in the state of Utah, teaches over 70,000 students, is one of the largest employer’s in Utah County, and is proposing a budget next year of over $550 million.
There are three things I believe every citizen should be aware of. First, the District is proposing an estimated tax increase in your property taxes. Second, it’s proposing a consecutive salary increase in the Superintendent’s salary. Third, it’s continuing to fund common core.
The current proposed tax increase will increase the Capital Local Levy to raise an additional $1.5 million. This amounts to roughly $13.48 a year on a person with a home assessed at $250,000. The Basic School Levy (set by state Legislature) is also estimated to increase this year. These two tax increases amount to an additional estimated $21.59 in property taxes. While the Basic School Levy is set by the state, the question becomes, “Why does the District need to increase the Capital Local Levy and impose more taxes on its’ citizens?” While answers to this question range from recovering charter school offset money, to provide more “pay as you go resources”, none of these provide a sound basis for taking money out of our citizens’ pocketbooks.
As the District proposes to raise taxes, it also proposes to give salary increases to the Superintendent and the Business Administrator. While teachers will be receiving a 1% increase in their salaries, the Superintendent’s salary will increase 4.3%, and the Business Administrator’s salary will increase 8.8%. The Superintendent’s salary will increase to approximately $290,033 (including benefits), while the Business Administrators salary will increase to approximately $247,819 (including benefits). By comparison, Governor Herbert makes approximately $150,000 (including benefits). The result of these proposed salary increases will be both short and long-term, as retirement benefits are based off of the most recent salary amounts.
As if tax increases and salary increases were not enough, the District is proposing to fund an additional $582,000 for common core training and $2.5 million for textbooks aligned with the common core curriculum. Common core continues to be implemented in our District and our State. Common core is a set of standards that the State of Utah adopted in order to receiver a waiver from No Child Left Behind, It’s being implemented in our school system absent any evidence that it will actually improve education. While common core is being implemented, the testing system is also being changed, making it virtually impossible to assess whether common core is an improvement to education or not.
It’s easy to think of the budget as a mundane process that someone else can worry about. However, every dollar in this budget should serve one purpose. The education of our children.
If you have comments about the budget I invite you to come this Tuesday. Don’t forget to sign in to present a comment to the board, be respectful, and above all, let your voices be heard.