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If you build it, they will come… another way for the Park City School District to go broke

During today’s Local News Hour with Leslie Thatcher on KPCW, School Board President Moe Hickey brought up the need for an additional elementary school.

If at some point you look at our growth patterns right now and say Trailside is at capacity, Parleys is at capacity, Jeremy is getting close to capacity. Right now we can handle what we have, but and this is where it gets tricky with an elementary school. If you start seeing more and more students come in, which we’ve seen the last two years…when do you start constructing an elementary school?

-Moe Hickey, Park City School Board President

Mr Hickey has a good point. If Park City Schools were in an ordinary situation and this was a perfect world, an estimate about future growth would be performed, and if additional capacity was needed, schools would be constructed. However, the current situation in Park City is not normal.

Just a few short weeks ago The Park City School District voted to raise property taxes due to a shortfall in funds. The increase was partially attributed to students from other districts coming to Park City. It was stated during those meetings that our schools have to take students as long as there is capacity. It was also stated that our school district only receives about $3,000 from the state for each out of district student, while it costs over $10,0000 per year to educate them. So it costs tax payers $7,000 extra for every student who doesn’t even live here, who attends our schools, and most importantly pays no property tax.

So as we approach capacity in our elementary schools, do we celebrate that as a way to stop the bleeding and the continual tax increases to cover out of district students? No, we start planning how to increase capacity so we can take more out of districts students, lose even more money, and cause property taxes to rise further.

The implications of this are huge for everyone. For residents, it likely means higher property taxes. For teachers, it likely means that raises will be less during the next negotiations. For the school district, they edge every closer to the maximum amount they will be able to tax and get ever closer to that cliff.

It’s almost as if the whole long term financial situation isn’t even being considered. While out of district students are only one component of the current problem, it is significant. Increasing capacity through another school will only exacerbate it. It’s frankly baffling.


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