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School spending climbs in county

Utah's per student spending during the last completed school year climbed 6.1 percent from 1999-2000.

The 2000-2001 increase continues the multi-year trend of per student spending exceeding inflation in Utah. Teacher compensation, including benefits, rose 6.4 percent statewide.

In Carbon County, an average of 3,831 students attended classes in the local public school system during 2000-2001, according to the latest analysis conducted by the Utah Taxpayers Association.

Carbon's instructional spending per average daily attendance registered at $4,693 or 69 percent of the district's total $6,807 maintenance and operational costs.

The local school district's non-kindergarten to 12th grade expenditures registered at $337, facility construction expenses at $494, food service at $403 and debt service at $141 per average daily attendance.

Carbon district's expenditures totaled $7,778 per average daily attendance during school year 2000-2001. Average teacher salary registered at $35,755, with $15,025 in benefits. Principals received an average salary of $41,649 and the student/teacher ratio was 16.73.

The 2000-2001 property tax rate in Carbon was fixed at .6110, with assessed valuation per average daily attendance registering at $343,986.

The taxpayers association annually analyzes and reports expenditures for Utah's 40 school districts to organization members, educators and the community.

The association uses data from the Utah Office of Education summary of statistical and financial data included in the state agency's annual report.

The taxpayers association calculates district spending on the number of students in average daily attendance.

According to the latest analysis, student enrollment decreased 0.2 percent in 2000-01. The drop could be the last decrease in student enrollment for the next 20 years or more as children from the baby boom echo begins to enter Utah's public school system, projected the analysis.

In fact, the current year's enrollment growth was 100 percent higher than the original projections.

Current projections indicate that Utah's school age population will increase approximately 2 percent annually for the foreseeable future.

Total spending per student increased 6.1 percent, climbing from $5,433 to $5,762.

The percentage of maintenance and operation costs earmarked for instructional expenses continued to decrease.

In 1997-98, 70.6 percent of all maintenance and operation costs were allocated for instructional purposes. The percentage has decreased three years in a row.

In 2000-01, the instructional expense allocation decreased to 69.2 percent of maintenance and operation costs.

Spending per student increased in nearly all major categories from 1999-2000 to 2000-2001.

Total maintenance and operations spending, the most commonly cited measure of public education spending, increased 7.2 percent from $4,479 to $4,803.

Maintenance and operation costs are usually subdivided into instruction and supporting services.

Instructional expense increased 6.2 percent to $3,323, while supporting services increased 9.6 percent to $1,480. Non kindergarten to 12 grade expenditures per student remained unchanged at $144.

Capital outlay increased 1 percent to $815 per student. Food service costs per climbed 3.5 percent to $269.

In the supporting services category, facility maintenance costs jumped 13.2 percent. Pupil/teacher ratio declined slightly from 20.51 in 1999-2000 to 20.32 in 2000-2001.

Average teacher salaries climbed 4.3 percent, while average benefits increased 12.2 percent. Average principal salaries increased 4 percent at districts located across the state.

Per student spending varied significantly, indicated the taxpayers association analysis.

Many of the variations may be attributed to differences between districts, including declining or rising enrollment, urban or rural population, high or low property tax valuation per student and district management as well as local voter preferences.

The five school districts with the lowest spending per student were located along the Wasatch Front.

The larger school districts also tended to have larger class sizes.

Key observations outlined in the association's analysis include:

•Granite and Wayne districts had no debt service costs. Park City at $671 per student and Beaver at $650 had the highest debt service costs.

•Alpine School District had the highest percentage of the public school system's personnel as teachers at 69 percent.

Granite was a distant second at 60 percent and the state average was 54 percent.

Daggett reported the lowest teacher percentile at 42 percent.

•Statewide, 69 percent of all public school maintenance and operation costs were spent for instructional purposes.

Logan district was highest at 77 percent, trailed by Provo at 74 percent, Nebo at 72 percent, South Sanpete at 72 percent and Alpine at 71 percent.

Ogden at 63 percent, Beaver and Tintic at 61 percent, San Juan at 59 percent and Daggett at 56 percent posted the lowest percentages of district maintenance and operation costs dedicated for instructional purposes.

•School district property tax rates fluctuated considerably.

Tooele's rate at .9290 was 40 percent higher than the statewide average of .6640.

Five other school districts - Tintic, Jordan, San Juan, South Sanpete and Juab - had property tax rates 20 percent higher than the state average.

Five districts, including Carbon County, had property tax rates 20 percent lower than the statewide average.

•The five smallest districts had the five highest per student administrative and business costs.

But the largest districts did not necessarily have the lowest per student administrative costs.

Jordan, Utah's largest district, had the state's 11th lowest per student administrative costs. Granite, the second largest, had the eighth lowest per student administrative costs.

Logan, the 17th largest district, had the lowest per student administrative costs. Cache, the ninth largest, had the second lowest per student administrative costs.

•Average assessed property valuation per student varied dramatically.

Park City's valuation, the highest inUtah, was 5.5 times higher than the state average. Tintic, with the lowest assessed valuation, registered at 58 percent less than the state average.

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