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Park City schools could cut 22 teachers

Published March 13, 2012 1:05 pm

Education • District is wrestling with a $5 million shortfall.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After weathering the economic recession by spending its savings, Park City School District is facing a $5 million budget shortfall for the 2012-13 school year. The school board is weighing whether to lay off teachers, freeze salaries, boost employees' health costs — or all of the above.

"Our reserves now are depleted to the point where we need to take some action and restore the balance between ongoing revenues and ongoing expenditures," said district spokesman Patrick Ogden.

Superintendent Ray Timothy has presented a number of possible budget cuts to the Park City board, including increasing average class sizes to 23 students. That's been the target in Park City, but many classes have shrunk below the 23-student mark. Last year, first and third grade classes in Park City had 21 students, on average. The state median for those grades is 23 and 25 students, respectively.

Boosting Park City's class sizes would mean cutting 22 teachers, including eight at Park City High. The district may offer an early-retirement incentive to encourage some teachers to leave voluntarily to reduce the number of layoffs.

The district also could — for the first time — ask employees to pay a portion of their health insurance premiums. Other proposed cuts include the full-time equivalent of two administrative positions, 1.65 district office jobs and 2.5 elementary school counselors. Classroom and media aides also could be reduced.

The Park City school board discussed the budget at a retreat on Tuesday. Afterward, Board President Moe Hickey said the board is weighing all its options, including a tax increase if necessary. The district's state funding has dropped by $8 million over the past five years, he noted, while property-tax revenues have remained flat.

By law, the school board must approve the budget before June 22.

rwinters@sltrib.com