Utah's education community is girding itself for a battle against
proposals to limit or roll back taxes.Efforts are being organized from the state level down to individual school neighborhoods, members of the liaison committee of the Utah State School Board and the Utah School Boards Association.
Those efforts include meetings with political convention delegates, a video that emphasizes the effects tax reductions would have on education and generally using every opportunity to get the message to the public.
Some districts are preparing two budgets for presentation to the public - one based on current income and a second showing what the effect of drastic tax cutbacks would be.
The current rollback and limitation proposals would cut $349 million from state and local budgets. Education uses approximately half of the state's income.
Committee members also suggested that education leaders begin promoting the use of any surplus tax revenues. State leaders, including Gov. Norm Bangerter, have tentatively suggested a rebate to return any surplus to individual taxpayers.
The two organizations agreed that the education community should present a united front to remind legislators that the $68 million in education cuts over the past few years have been painful and that the quality of education is being affected by reductions within individual districts.
The liaison committee also reviewed the audit of Timpanogos Community Mental Health Center and its implications for educators.
Superintendent James Bergera of Provo District was involved in a possible conflict of interest, said the report of the Office of the Legislative Auditor General.
Scott Bean of the state office said school officials should use extreme care in relationships with organizations outside their official responsibilities, to avoid any suggestion of conflict.
The state office is conducting its own review of Bergera's case and preparing to revise and strengthen policies regarding professional activities aside from those specific to an education assignment. A conflict-of-interest task force is looking at the issues.
The study is including better methods of tracking money within the system and "strengthened accountability for all school funds."