Would funds from the Levy stay in Grand County?
Short answer? Yes. The Grand County School District has experienced a decrease in funding because of two bills recently approved by the state legislature. The first, the Charter School Replacement Fund, will take approximately $100,000 of funding from the District to send to charter schools across the state. And because Grand County has some of the highest property values in the state, the second bill (also known as the “equalization bill”) resulted in our District having to send funds to other districts with lower property values. (It’s important to remember that even though our property values are relatively high, our tax rates are not. See below for some examples.)
|Location||Overall tax rate||2014 property taxes|
|Salt Lake City||0.015954||$2194|
|San Juan County (average)||0.013435||$1847|
|Emery County (average)||0.012380||$1702|
How do teacher salaries affect the quality of education?
States that offer significantly higher teacher salaries also boast higher 4th and 8th grade math scores, lower student drop-out rates, and lower new teacher attrition rates. When Connecticut substantially increased their teacher salaries in 1988, their test scores soared, despite the fact that median income statewide actually dropped.
Why should I care if I don’t have kids who attend school here? Great schools are key to a healthy economy and community. They are necessary to attract medical professionals and other skilled workers to the area, along with entrepreneurs who may relocate their businesses to Grand County. Well-educated students also become the professionals that our community will need in the future. They will become our nurses, dentists, accountants, engineers, politicians, and hopefully, the teachers of our future generations of Grand County’s kids.
Why not just sell the Red Rock property and use the money from that to pay teachers more? The State of Utah has very strict guidelines regarding how school money is spent, and it simply does not allow capital funds (for buildings) to be spent on ongoing expenses (teacher pay).
What about the work that needs to be done at the middle school? Are you going to be asking voters to approve a bond for it? The School Board started a capital fund a few years ago specifically designed to address the issues at the middle school. They have been setting aside money each year to fund either a major remodel or make payments on new construction without further increasing taxes.
A quality education is the best antidote to poverty.
Grand County has a high rate of intergenerational poverty. According to a recent study, “[Education] is a powerful tool for breaking cycles of poverty and also serves a strong protective function against shocks and extra-household pressures.” When people have access to a high quality education, they are more able to break that cycle of intergenerational poverty. That translates into success both for the individual, the local community, and for the country’s economy as a whole, because student achievement is strongly related to economic growth. Simply put, a better-prepared workforce is able to lead our community to greater growth and higher levels of household income. Data points include:
- High school dropouts are more than twice as likely to be unemployed and three times more likely to receive welfare assistance, costing billions of dollars nationally each year for government funded assistance programs.
- 41% of all prisoners have not completed high school, compared to 18 percent of the general adult population. The annual cost of incarcerating an individual is about $32,000, while the annual cost of a quality public education is about $11,000.
- A 5% increase in the male graduate rate would save $5 billion in crime-related expenses.
- Mortality decreases for every additional year in schooling by 7.2% for men and 6% for women; and the chances of optimum health is up to 8 times higher for citizens with eighteen years of education versus only seven.
- Graduating from high school improves the quality of health, reduces dependence on public health programs by 60 percent, and cuts by six times the rate of alcohol abuse.
- National savings in public health costs would exceed $40 billion if every high school dropout in just a single year would graduate. Average annual public health costs are $2,700 per dropout, $1,000 per high school graduate, and $170 per college graduate.