The boards of Park City, South Summit and North Summit school districts unanimously agreed this week to ask the Legislature not to force consolidation in Summit County.
Meeting in Treasure Mountain Middle School, the boards decided that their districts will present their case to the Legislature's Education Interim Committee Oct. 19. Summit County is one of about a dozen in the state that has looked at district consolidation under a legislative mandate.Differences in curriculum, teacher salaries and taxation structures would make consolidation of the Summit districts unfeasible, the boards agreed Monday night.
Unanimity among the three boards disappeared at the point where North Summit asked for a redistribution of wealth in the county to bolster its school program. South Summit is the wealthiest district in the state, followed by Park City. North Summit is 11th among the state's 40 districts and has not been able to get taxpayer support for funding beyond the minimum required by the state.
A vote on the North Summit request split cleanly with both Park City and South Summit voting against a voluntary sharing of assessed valuation with North Summit.
"I would be more willing to help North Summit if they were willing to help themselves," said South Summit Board member Bill Harris.
Ralph Crittenden of North Summit said older, retired taxpayers in his district have voted down efforts to raise additional money for schools.
Crittenden said it is likely the Legislature will look at trying to force more parity on the districts if they cannot agree to do it themselves.
These inequities have made North Summit residents slightly more amenable to consolidation, although surveys in all three districts show more support for maintaining three districts. The three boards will recommend to the Legislature that they be allowed to take the issue to voters in 1990.
Weber and Cache districts earlier made the same request of the Legislature and asked that Utah's law be changed to allow for such an election in municipal voting in 1989.
While the three Summit County boards were unanimous in their desire for a consolidation election, they noted that the membership of all three boards is likely to change with this fall's election and the new boards could not be held to their decision.
The three districts have participated in an in-depth study of consolidation at a cost of $15,000 to $17,000 per district. The study showed that North Summit's assessed valuation generates $199,896 per pupil; Park City assessed valuation is $882,446,829 or $654,634 per student; and South Summit, $2,132,883,570 or $2,266,613 per pupil.
Park City voters supported a 5 mill additional levy to enrich its school programs and would lose that advantage in a consolidation. Park City's teachers receive an average daily salary of $143 per day, North Summit teachers $123 per day and South Summit, $121 per day. To bring the salaries to Park City's schedule would cost the districts more than $300,000.
Although some savings could be realized by combining administration, the additional cost for teacher salaries would offset those savings, the study report said.