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Wasatch County

$135 million Wasatch County School District budget includes teacher raises

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Ben Lasseter
/
KPCW
Wasatch County School District Board Member Kim Dickerson and Business Administrator Keith Johansen listen as someone speaks during a public hearing at last week's board meeting.

The Wasatch County School District expects to spend about $7 million more next year than it did this year — and $33 million more than it did two years ago.

The quickly growing district that includes Wasatch High School, two middle schools and five elementary schools plans to spend over $135 million through the next fiscal year, which ends in June 2023. That’s a projected 5% increase over its spending this year.

At a school board meeting last week, Business Administrator Keith Johansen said much of the spending increase will be used to raise teacher salaries.

The budget for next year allots $56.5 million for salaries in total. That’s a $5 million increase, or 10% more than last year.

The budget for employee benefits next year increases by $3.5 million or 13%. Johansen said that’s in part because health insurance premiums jumped more than 20%, which he called the “biggest challenge” of the budget.

At the meeting, Wasatch High School teacher Drew Camps-Wofford thanked the board for the raises.

“I can’t imagine being anywhere else but, seriously, at Wasatch High School, or within the district as we continue to expand,” she said. “This will be my fifth year. My salary has grown by 20-grand-ish.”

Others who spoke at the meeting, including music teachers and parents, expressed concerns about the future of the district’s music programs.

Allan Gale said after some music teachers left in the past, others struggled when they had to teach extra students. He feared that may happen again soon.

Board Member Kim Dickerson told Gale the board is planning to hire a new music teacher.

Board Member Cory Holmes addressed rumored cuts to the district’s music department.

“Many of the emails talked about that we were cutting the music program, and that was never, ever, ever, ever our intention,” Holmes said. “Even from the beginning, we were going to hire more. We thought it may be a good idea to shift some people around to help build the program from the ground up. We heard you loud and clear — you didn’t like it, so we’re going to pause on that, and we’re going to hire that one teacher.”

The proposed budget is more than $30 million more than the district’s budget two years ago, a 32% increase.

Visit this link for the full budget report and this link for a video recording of the board meeting.

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