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GRANITE BUDGET INCLUDES FUNDS TO REDUCE CLASS SIZE

The Granite School District's proposed budget for next school year includes enough money to reduce class size and prepare for more students but not enough to restore cuts made last year from special education, music and library programs.

The school board has proposed a $256.6 million budget for 1991-92 that is almost 11 percent higher than the current year's budget.A public hearing on the budget is set for 6 p.m. Friday, June 14, in the district offices, 340 E. 3545 South. The board will adopt a tentative budget by July 1. A truth-in-taxation hearing will be held in early August, and the board will complete the budget by mid-August.

"Granite District is trying to be frugal with tax money and responsive to patron concerns," said David Garrett, business administrator-treasurer. The district is facing pressures of overcrowding, and much of this year's increase will pay for additional teachers and for renovation of schools to either accommodate more classes or go year-round, he said.

The proposed budget does not restore money cut last year from programs such as special education, elementary music and library-media services, Garrett said. But the increase in transportation taxes will allow the district to restore busing in some neighborhoods where hazardous conditions exist. Efforts to cut back busing routes created a strong backlash this year.

Many taxpayers in the district will see slight increases in their bills. Changes in local tax structures have increased the district's assessed valuation by 11.62 percent. The Legislature this year increased the tax liability of small businesses and residents to make up for a court-mandated reduction in taxes on statewide businesses. Growth in the Granite District area also contributed to the increase.

Though the overall tax rate will decrease from 1990-91, the Legislature's change will make some taxpayers actually pay more. District officials estimate the increase at $35 per year on an $80,000 home.

Granite voters approved a 2 mill property-tax increase last fall to reduce class sizes. That will raise approximately $2.8 million for hiring teachers and making other changes. However, the district had "borrowed" 1 mill of taxes from its capital projects for this purpose for 1990-91. That money now must be returned to its original category, Garrett said.

With a steadily growing student population, particularly in the south and west portions of the district, officials have opted to turn to year-round schedules rather than building new schools, Garrett said.

The costs associated with the calendar change also are considerable, however, including installing air conditioning in buildings. In the next few years the district anticipates adding approximately 10 elementary schools and some of its junior high schools to the year-round option.

The 1991-92 budget sets aside $1.5 million for preparing schools for year-round use.