State Aims to Pay Less for Charter Schools

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At this month’s Carbon County School Board meeting, an issue of taxes was discussed. Also discussed was demolishing a building in Spring Glen with the district’s help.

Though the district has paid off a $642,000 bond, which will lower taxes, it needs to come up with $187,000 more per year to finance the charter schools in the area. “When charter schools were first authorized by the state, legislators assured voters that the funding for these schools would not fall to the local school districts or
communities,” said Darin Lancaster, the business administrator for Carbon School District.

Lancaster presented a budget to the school board that would simply lower the tax, compensating for the new financial demand. The budget calls for a net decrease in tax revenue. Board member Kristen Taylor made a motion to tentatively approve the budget pending approval of the tax increase at a public hearing. A public hearing will be held on August 12 at the district office.

The tax increase comes from the state, which Lancaster said simply “no longer wants to pay for charter schools the way they have in the past. The funds they save by having the local communities pay more towards charter school funding stayed within the education budget and will be spent in other areas related to education.” Since there are several members of the state legislature who want to privatize schools, this restructuring of taxes seemingly makes sense.

Lancaster said the district can absorb the loss of funds, but it would negatively affect district programs and employees or raise property taxes. Lancaster feels that the district employees and students shouldn’t have to suffer because the state wants “to back out of their commitment to fund charter schools and instead pass those costs on to the local communities.”

“The Carbon School District was proportionately the most heavily impacted school district in the state by this restructuring of funds,” he said. Lancaster further explained that Carbon School District has a total enrollment of about 3,500 students. Pinnacle Academy has about 500.

“This means roughly 12.5% of students in Carbon County are attending a charter school. This is a higher percentage than any other district in the state,” he said. “Therefore, any funding change based on the number of students that attend a charter school is proportionately more impactful to Carbon School District than other districts.”

The other significant item discussed was the demolition of the old schoolhouse in Spring Glen. The building was deeded to Spring Glen by the district for community use. Over time, the building has become run down. Since Spring Glen isn’t incorporated and can’t levy taxes to demolish the building, they have opened a discussion with the district to demolish it. No decision has been made.

 

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