After approving a $150.78 million budget Tuesday, the Salt Lake School Board went about whittling down a districtwide "wish list" on which it has $550,000 to spend.
Technology, music instruction, school counselors and nurses emerged as favorites on the list, but the board will not make a final decision on the priorities until next month. The school board voted earlier this year to contract its bus service to a private provider, a move estimated to save about $400,000.The remainder of the money to be spent on additional budget requests was gleaned from savings from this year's budget.
Principals and administrators waited late into the evening Tuesday to pitch for some of the $550,000.
Jackson Elementary School Principal Marilyn Phillips asked the board to reauthorize funding for a pilot program in which every student learns to play the violin. Fifth-grade students entertained the board earlier in the evening. In accepting recognition as the district's Teacher of the Year, Jackson teacher Lauren Mullen urged the board to continue the program.
While the board was generally supportive, it advised Phillips to find an outside revenue source to match the district's effort.
Nancy Valdez, pupil services supervisor, said her $110,000 request for two additional counselors or social workers to serve elementary students was "so minimal. I could stand up here and ask for 27 additional staff and feel good about it," she said.
Counseling services for elementary school students range from one-half day per week in at least five schools to full-time counselors in others.
Elaine Tzourtzouklis, president of the Salt Lake Teachers Association, reminded the board that when it privatized the bus system, it vowed to place the savings directly in the classroom.
The impassioned pleas for part of the $550,000 were a sharp contrast to the public hearing for the $150 million budget. Except for a representative of the Utah Taxpayer Association, who complimented the school district for devoting so much of its resources to instruction and its budget preparation, no one commented on the financial plan, which is down about $8.3 million from last year.
Business administrator Gary Harmer said although costs of educational and support services were up about $8.5 million in the new budget, capital costs fell about $16.8 million.
The budget contemplates hiring 27 additional teachers with new class-size reduction funds provided by the Utah Legislature.
Homeowners will experience a tax decrease on the school district's portion of the property tax bill.
Harmer said tax on a home with a market value of $75,000 would be about $262.35, about $27.60 lower than this year's bill.
Teacher salaries, which comprise the largest portion of the budget, are still a question mark, although negotiations are expected to resume Monday.
School Budget: SALT LAKE CITY
General fund: $150.78 million
General fund: $144.1 million*
Where it comes from
Local revenues $39.8 million
State revenue $57.58 million
Federal revenues $5.32 million
Other local revenue: $1.95 million
Where it goes
Maintenance & operation $107.54 million
Special programs $16.77 million
Debt service $5.08 million
Capital outlay $5.8 million
Capital reserve 0
Capital bond $15.5 million
Property tax expected to decrease $36.80 on home valued at $100,000.
Source: Salt Lake City School District
*final legal budget