The Wasatch School District Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a $45 million tax increase. The Truth in Taxation Hearing held on Thursday night attracted about 70 people to the school district offices and nearly 30 people gave public comment.
The Wasatch School District Business Administrator, Keith Johansen says the average price of a home is assessed higher this year at $441,000 up from $380,000 last year. Johansen explains the levy increases and says the average amount property owners will pay is $140.00 more per year on a $441,000 dollar home.
“That includes the board local levy, the capital local levy, the voted local levy, the general obligation bond debt service payments and the basic school levy. It also includes in there the Charter School levy that is assessed by the state”
Increasing teacher salaries by 5%, putting resource officers in each school and enhancing early literacy are the School Board’s major initiatives behind the tax increase. They have 300 more students starting this year. Johansen says they’re hiring a total of 22 new teachers.
Many of those giving input were teachers and administrators who are also parents living in the School District. There was overwhelming support of the Board’s direction and leadership.
Resident, Ryan Brown is a principal in the District.
“I would just like to thank everything the Wasatch County School Board does for our students and our community. The teacher shortage is a real thing. When I started as a principal nine years ago, for one opening, we would get 300 applicants. I remember sitting there and going through each one of those. This year we are starting the school year with long term subs as we work to make sure everything is ready. I am grateful for the physical safety of our schools and that our students and employees are safe in the building.”
Resource Officers will be in each of the eight Wasatch County schools. As a part of their Mental Health efforts, they’re adding an additional psychologist and nurse to their administrative team. Sheila Johnston is a parent and teacher who told the board that kids can’t learn if they don’t feel safe.
“You will not recover from the deat6h or a suicide of a child. And I have had to go through a few of those with students. We live in a different time when my parents went to school. They have social pressures. They have unique challenges. With unique challenges comes new problems and we have to think differently. Lastly, I want to say as a teacher, I am so grateful for the benefit package you provide us. I spent 30 days in a hospital bed a year and a half ago. Without our insurance, financially, my family would not have made it.”
Early literacy and reading by 3rd grade are priorities and they will now offer all-day kindergarten and pre-school to every child in the district.
Comments were made concerning the operating costs of the new district pool facility. A couple of people were concerned about the increase in assessed property values throughout the county. One resident called certain items in the budget, “fluff, reminding the board that the cost of living in Wasatch County is not sustainable for many long-time residents living on fixed incomes.
Detailed videos explaining the tax increase and the entire 2019 budget are available on the district website at Wasatch.edu