Letter to the Editor: Goal of ‘Our Schools Now’ petition has merits (counter opinion)

Photo courtesy of Washington County School District, date and location not specified | St. George News

OPINION — In the Sunday, Sept. 24 edition of  St. George News, Earle Richardson authored a letter to the editor that is worth responding to.

Read more: Letter to the Editor: Petitioners demand $700M more in taxes for Utah schools, but for what?

The “Our Schools Now” petition is the work of a private organization attempting to provide more funds for teachers and education. While we can’t speak to their plan, their goal of providing more education funding to teachers in the lowest funded state in the nation has merits in concept. It is too early in its development for Washington County School District (WCSD) to take a stand either way.

Now, let’s address the rest of the editorial which concerns the current educational environment. The author makes some significant assumptions regarding administrative pay and facility costs. Let’s consider a few facts:

  • Utah has the lowest administrative costs per student of any state in the nation. In fact, Utah’s costs are a fifth of the national average.
  • In Washington County, an elementary school principal starts at $81,000. We do not have a single principal, in either Elementary, Middle or High schools, even close to the $150,000 range. Their take home pay is much lower than what the author suggests.
  • WCSD is unique in its tilt-up construction methods. On average, new schools are 20-25 percent less expensive to build than traditional masonry construction and our buildings are built to serve for 60-75 years.
  • The Utah Taxpayer Association recognized WCSD for being the leader in cost-effective school building construction on Sept. 28 in a presentation by Howard Stephenson. (See above photo.)
  • Advancements in technology and construction materials provide annual operating cost savings in excess of 38 percent versus buildings constructed just 25 years ago. This means schools can be efficient and provide a positive and safe learning environment.

After speaking with a representative from Granite School District, the facility the author referenced is not solely an administrative building. This former hospital serves as the campus for the Granite Technical Institute; a school that houses 1,500 students per day studying numerous career paths and college concurrent enrollment.

The building also houses a 1,000-student elementary school and a Utah State University campus extension. At the time of the purchase, The Utah Taxpayers Association endorsed the acquisition because of the cost savings and student opportunities.

The primary function of Washington County School District is to offer the best education to our students. We do it well and cost-effectively. Even the Utah Taxpayer Association recognizes our efforts on behalf of Washington County taxpayers.

Our board meetings are open to the public and we are happy to offer tours of our facilities or answer questions for interested members of the community.

Written by STEVEN DUNHAM, Washington County School District director of communications.

Letters to the Editor are not the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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  • Happy Day September 30, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Thank you for the clarification. The other article seemed way off the road with it’s numbers. Now, I see it was.

    • DRT September 30, 2017 at 10:57 am

      I have to agree with you. My only problem with Mr. Dunham’s letter, is when he made the following statement:
      “It is too early in its development for Washington County School District (WCSD) to take a stand either way.”
      Now we all know where WCSD is going to “stand” on this issue. When has anyone, anywhere, at anytime, known a school district to turn it’s nose up to more money?

  • comments September 30, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Ed. ellipsis.

    • great success September 30, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      But Comments you point to an area that is part of the issue in Utah. Utah households have more children. Therefore, Utah does not get as much out of the dollar in property tax for education compared to other states. Comparably as well, our property taxes are LOWER than most places. An although I’ll be the first to admit that waste in government is absolutely the norm rather than the exception, Utah’s educational system and even our local district does much more with less, mostly because of necessity. But when Utah leads the nation in teacher turnover rate and in lowest educational spending per pupil….it’s more likely that the trend will decline for our children’s outcomes and the communities, if we simply accept the status quo.

      • comments September 30, 2017 at 3:15 pm

        oh wow “our property taxes are lower than most places”! Let’s fix that quick and get them jacked up as soon as we can! I wonder what kind of money they could come up with if they started chopping athletics programs.


    • .... October 1, 2017 at 1:55 am

      Ha Ha Bob got edited !

  • great success September 30, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Our Schools Now will be an attempt to bring down classroom size and caseloads as well. This money is needed. If you have children in the K-12 education system, this means more time and attention for your child. In our local high schools, there’s 40 plus kids sitting in classrooms. Special education case loads are much higher than most other states.

    If you aren’t a stakeholder, i.e. children grown up or no children at all, please consider how others more personally invested in the system would really appreciate your support. And how investing in education strengthens a community, which will benefit you too!

  • .... October 1, 2017 at 2:02 am

    LOL Bob ( comment ) sure likes to go off before getting all the facts doesn’t he lol ! the best part is that they will get their money !

  • commonsense October 1, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    A Utah tax payer will pay more taxes for education than a tax payers in any other state and the state of Utah spends more of its budget on education than other states.

    So let’s quit with the ‘lowest funded’ propaganda. Utah has a lot of kids and they are pretty well educated.

    Educators will always want more and more.
    Our state is solvent which is not the case with most blue states. I don’t like palatial schools like Corner Canyon HS in Draper and I don’t think every high school needs six tennis courts that are only used several months per year.

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