The Sept. 16 Salt Lake Tribune article, “Education earmark tax reform target,” raised quite a few questions about school funding in this state. Utah in particular, has a long reputation of ”stacking them deep and teaching them cheap.”
But one comment made by Rep. Tim Quinn, criticizing the school districts for wasteful spending and building “Taj Mahals,” leads to another question.
There are 41 separate school districts in Utah, out of 29 counties, serving approximately 613,000 students. In Salt Lake County alone, we have four separate school districts: Salt Lake, Murray, Granite and the Canyons districts. Why do we have four separate districts in Salt Lake County?
According to the actual contract documents published on KUTV.com, the total 2018-20 yearly compensation for the four school district superintendents in Salt Lake County comes to a grand total of $778,793 per year. This does not include any other perks and other compensation. Also, this total does not include the salaries for the assistant superintendents, deputy assistants, junior assistants and other assorted hangers-on. Not to mention separate administration staffs, accounting, district operating expenses and other needless duplication, all to service a student population of approximately 130,000 students.
In comparison, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District will earn approximately $350,000 to run the second largest school district in the U.S. (after New York City) with a total of approximately 734,000 students.
To criticize the school districts for wasteful spending misses the mark entirely. Yes, there is wasteful spending in Utah education. But, the blame can be traced to the politicians of Utah who allowed this travesty to happen in the first place. The decisions to create this mess were made by the politicians, not the educators.
One wonders what could be done with this money that is wasted on so much unneeded bureaucracy.
William E. Hewitt Jr., Salt Lake City