The purpose of these comments is to correct several factual errors presented in "My View" by Delores Vincent on April 16.
1. Mrs Vincent states that the Salt Lake City School District has spent the past two years in chaos. Such is not the case. Schools are running as smoothly and orderly as ever, and much progress is being made in developing a more clearly articulated and integrated curriculum and greater accountability for staff performance.2. Mrs. Vincent stated that the district is extremely top-heavy in administration and that money that should go to students is being eaten away by administration. Mrs. Vincent listed some administrator-to-student ratios which were not correct.
School districts are required to report to the State Office of Education the number of administrators and other staff on their payroll. Districts also report student membership data and expenditures. The data is audited by independent certified public accountants.
According to that data, Salt Lake City and the surrounding school districts have the following numbers and ratios of central administrators to students:
Salt Lake City has 24 administrators for 24,851 students, a ratio of one per thousand; Murray has 1.3 per thousand; Granite, one per thousand; Jordan, 0.4 per thousand, and Davis, 1.2 per thousand.
Educational Research Services Inc. of Arlington, Va., collects comparative statistics on school district budgets. According to their data, the national average per-pupil cost for administration is $179, compared to $87.36 in Salt Lake City.
The district certainly is not top-heavy with administration.
3. Mrs. Vincent stated that citizens of the Salt Lake City School District have been paying an additional tax since 1974 that brings in $10.4 million per year to assure smaller classroom ratios (pupil to teacher ratio), no textbook fees, and librarians in every school. Yet she claims pupil-teacher ratios are not less in Salt Lake City than in surrounding districts.
Again, according to data collected by the State Office of Education, the pupil-teacher ratio is as follows: Salt Lake City has a 22.6 to 1 ratio; Murray, 26.8 to 1; Granite, 26.4 to 1; Jordan, 26.02 to 1, and Davis, 26.01 to 1. The figures do not include special education teachers.
The Salt Lake City School District average pupil-teacher ratio is 3.71 students per teacher lower than the average of the other districts in the group.
According to Mrs. Vincent, it takes $1.2 million to lower the ratio one student. In that case, it would require an annual expenditure of $4.45 million to maintain this lower pupil-teacher ratio. The 1974 voted leeway election was for an increase in the then existing tax rate of 2 mills. The board has done what it told voters it intended to do with that 2 mill increase.
Also, the Salt Lake City School District has the lowest total tax rate of any of the surrounding school districts and that all of these districts have voted leeways.
4. Mrs. Vincent states, "The bid as it is currently proposed for the West High Track Memorandum of Understanding is between $1.3 and $2.5 million." She further stated that the district is committed to spending at least $660,000 for this project and that other high school tracks had cost between $148,977 and $215.275. The facts are:
(A) The district currently is not committed to spending anything on the West High track. That is an issue on which the board has not yet voted.
(B) The proposed West High track project is not comparable to those which cost $148,977 to $215,275. The other high school track projects referred to were resurfacing projects, and the West High project requires building a complete new track from scratch, moving a baseball diamond, and significant landscaping.
(C) The $1.3 to $2.5 million project is one proposed by a community group that wants to see a track built that can be used for national amateur athletic competition. The group proposes to raise the money to make up the difference between this track project and one the school district originally considered building.
5. Mrs. Vincent stated that the school district administration has not had time to apply for federal, state, and private grants for which the district is qualified.
Such is not true. The Salt Lake District has been very aggressive in applying for all grants deemed beneficial to the district. Again, looking at the statistics collected by the Education Research Service, Salt Lake City obtained 6.19 percent of its budget from federal grants, Granite District gets 2.75 percent from that source. The average percent of budget for federal revenue for the nation as a whole is 3.20 percent.
6. Mrs. Vincent alleges that the district has put the voted leeway money in jeopardy by possibly never having submitted required affidavits or certificates required by law. The district followed the law to the letter.
The required certificates were filed with the Salt Lake County Auditors' Office, which forwards the information to the State Tax Commission. These two offices supervise the property tax assessment process of the school district, and all of the requirements of these offices and the law were met in 1974 when the election was held and each year since that time.
7. Mrs. Vincent stated that the district had appropriated approximately $37,000 to record the "last year of South High" on video. This statement just is not true. The district loaned the South High studentbody $5,000 to make a video of the history of South High. This money is to be repaid to the district as the students sell the video.
The Salt Lake City School District is an excellent school district. It is blessed with a very hard working and dedicated Board of Education. It has a competent and dedicated superintendent, staff, and teachers.
(W. Gary Harmer is business administrator for the Salt Lake City School District.)