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Education panel discusses pursuing voted leeway tax hike



By Sun Advocate

Marie Leonard, Beth Gotfredson and Paula Noyes place chairs in the board room at the new Carbon School District offices Monday. The district administration is moving to the former Westridge Middle School. The district offices are located in the northern section of the building. The technology center occupies the west section and LIC takes up part of the southern part of the building. Other programs will also be housed in the facility. Based on action at last Wednesday’s board meeting, the school district tentatively plans to conduct a leeway election to increase taxes on Feb. 4, 2003. The decision will be finalized at the next meeting of the education board on Dec. 11 in the new district offices.

The matter did not take long to discuss, but the Carbon County Board of Education voted tentatively to conduct a leeway election on Feb. 4, 2003 during the panel’s regularly scheduled public meeting last Wednesday.
“Right now, we are ninth from the bottom in the state in property tax rates,” said William Jewkes, the school district’s business administrator. “If we increased that levy to .0011, it would put us in 15th place in the state, which is just above the present average.”
If the .0011 leeway rate were approved by Carbon County voters, the proposal would mean property taxes would be increased on homes and businesses.
For instance, the property tax on a private residence valued at $100,000 would increase $61 and a business with the same value would go up $110 per year.
The board discussed the options of such an election, but the general feeling among the members was that the extra money was needed for the operations of the school district.
Things mentioned that money from the increase could be used for included employing a special reading teacher at each elementary school to help students who are having trouble, several types of building improvements and raises for teachers as well as staff in the district.
Jewkes pointed out that the cost of running an election would be about $3000, win or lose.
Since the discussion was not listed as an action item on the education board’s agenda, the final resolution will be examined and voted upon during the school district’s public meeting in December.
Addressing an unrelated matter at the Nov. 13 meeting, the board of education discussed the school district’s travel policy for athletic and non-athletic events.
Carbon High choir director Tony Pinedo asked the board members for permission for the group of students to travel to California or Florida during the current school year during and for a few days before spring break.
Several questions arose about what the district’s policy has been regarding out-of-state and long distance travel.
It was determined that travel by groups like the choir during the school has been limited to an every other or every three year period. Trips planned when school is not in session need approval from the board, but are not limited in any other way.
Pinedo pointed out that the only district resources he is requesting for the choir trip is a bus ride to and from the airport.
Otherwise, the participating choir students would pay for the trip.
The Carbon High choir director also told the board members that the students’ grades were not dependent upon whether they made the trip.
In a related matter, board member Walt Borla questioned the travel of the boys basketball team at Carbon High in December.
Borla pointed out that the team will be traveling to Tremonton for a tournament then, one week and four days later, the Dinos will be going to St. for a couple more games.
“That just seems like a lot of travel and expense,” said Borla. “Why can’t they schedule games closer to home or even have a tournament here?”
The board discussed the issue.
Doug Hintze, assistant superintendent, pointed out that it is often difficult to arrange for teams to come to Carbon County and play.
The board approved the travel request submitted.
During last week’s public session, Superintendent David Armstrong showed the board of education members and the local residents gathered at the meeting the new grading system that is currently being used in the district’s elementary schools.
The superintendent passed out examples of the new report cards, which don’t measure student achievement in terms of the traditional A to E grade format. Instead, the report cards deal with student performance based on exceeding, meeting or being below grade level.
The form is more complicated than traditional grade reports, but also contains much more information that the old cards did.
Armstrong also passed out pacing guides that go along with the new grading system.
The guides show what a student should be learning each month during the school year in basic subjects.
“Next year, we will be passing those out to parents so they can see the schedule of what their child should be learning each month,” pointed outthe school district superintent on Monday.
Most county school district employees in attendance at the board of education meeting last week were positive about the change.
But the district employees pointed out that the new reports are more work for teachers to complete and some parents did not the cards because they felt grades are more descriptive.
“We passed those out at mid-term parent teacher conferences and let the parents know what would be coming out,” indicated Kerry Jensen, the principal at Wellington Elementary following the board meeting. “When they came out, I only got a complaint about it from one parent.”
The new report cards are part of the “no child left behind format” that the local public school system is pursuing.
In terms of report cards and pacing schedules, Carbon County School District is one of the leaders in Utah, according to the officials.
Sally Mauro Elementary School was honored at the meeting for receiving the Utah Council of International Reading Association’s exemplary program award for 2002.
The award was presented after three years of hard work and intensive training to implement the reading excellence act at the school in Helper.
The state will now enter the reading program developed and implemented at Sally Mauro Elementary into the national competition.
During the public comment period at last week’s meeting, Jana Hoyt asked the board members why Carbon County educators have not received the $150 the Utah Legislature appropriated per teacher for supplies.
Jewkes explained that the money will not arrive at the school district offices until after the first of the year.
When the money arrives at the school district, Jewkes indicated that the teachers will receive the funds for purchasing classroom supplies.

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