School District Redistricting
UPDATE NOTE: The County Elections Office will draw the boundaries, but the County Commissioners will need to approve the boundaries. If the district's boundaries did not cross city lines, the city would be responsible for the redistricting.
I had a call from a constituent who was concerned about the board's input into the redistricting process. The concern had to do with the current structure with so much board representation being in Orem. The redistricting is supposed to be fairly uniform and contiguous. However, there is a lot of latitude and power associated with redistricting. Do you maintain the individual board members in each of their respective districts, and just make long, convoluted districts? Or do you simply try to make so many miles square and let the chips fall where they may? Following the growth patterns, the Orem folks will, most likely, lose a representative on the board, making the ratio 2 Orem to 5 others, down from 3 Orem to 4 others. Boards, unlike other representatives' districts are limited in size. More population doesn't equate to more representation, only different representation.
Since school boards are limited to seven members, the current board boundaries need to be shifted to accommodate the greater growth both West and North in our district. Currently, Orem has 3 board members and 1 board member each for PG/Lindon, AF, Alpine/Highland/Cedar Hills/Draper/some Lehi, most Lehi/Eagle Mountain/Saratoga Springs. The County Commissioners (see update note) will redraw the boundaries before June. Should a sitting board member's area be swallowed up into another area, that member will be an 'at large' member and represent the "new" area until their next election. At that next election, it is entirely possible (although the county may try to avoid this) to have 2 incumbent board members running against each other. As a fan of opposition in all things, I think this is a fine scenario.
In reading some articles about other school districts, they are working with their County to help redraw the precinct lines. In asking about our involvement, I was told the County Commission would draw the lines, and then present it to us for our comments.
If you are interested in how your representation will be affected, I recommend you contact the County Commissioners and the Elections Office to discuss this process and to provide your input. I assume, by June, when the boundaries have already been drawn, it may be too late to have any impact. The official boundaries will be set in stone in January 2012. By way of information, two of the three County Commissioners do not live within ASD 's boundaries. Certainly, if you live in the West or the North, you should contact the County Commissioners about what you believe to be fair redistricting. For myself, as close to so many squares as possible would be the ideal. I am tired of gerrymandered districts that make absolutely no sense. Go with population, and leave the incumbents' concerns about reelection to their new constituents.
I attended the operations budget committee meeting. The district administrators have submitted their requests for budget items that 1) change (usually increase) resources over current allocations or 2) compensate for areas that lost funding from the last legislative session. The committee meeting was meant to be a prioritization meeting. From those priorities, I assume, an actual budget will be proposed. The board will, then, review this proposal, ask questions, and modify it, if necessary. The board must have a final budget approved by June 22 of each year. The budget will not include potential bond amounts and/or projects, since the bond must be approved by the voters.
Two items of interest.
First, there is a portion of property tax, levied by ASD, that is, by law, sent to the charter schools. This was interesting to me because when I was involved with a charter school, there was no property tax component to the funding. In speaking with my State Rep, charter school funding seems to change from legislative session to legislative session. As it stands, 25% of the property tax allocated per student going to a charter schools is given to their respective charter schools. The caveat is that the charter enrollment information comes from two years prior to the current year. The question I have is how do new charter schools get funding, and what if a charter school's enrollment increases or decreases significantly in that 2-year time frame? I need to find out why the lag in data projections. Also, the concern from the district is two-fold. 1) This year it will amount to over $1M (last year and the year before, the amounts were $850K and $950K roughly) and 2) the board are the people who must appear before the taxpayers during the truth in taxation hearings to account for any increases in property tax.
Second, due to the Obamacare mandates in health insurance, our district's health insurance premiums will increase by about $3M this next year. In addition, because employees can now opt to cover their dependent children (married on not, but not spouses and their children) to age 26, there is an estimated $854,000 in additional premiums for those dependents.
The capital budget will appear on the April 19 board meeting agenda, and the operations budget, I assume, will be on the May agenda. Even though, a truth in taxation hearing may occur in August/September should the board approve a tax rate increase, the time to give input on the budget is now through June. It's kind of a backwards process where you put together a budget and approve it (and start using it on July 1, if I understand correctly), but ask for feedback from the people in August. By August, it's too late. I look forward to your input on the budget over the next two months.
Prime Rib (aka ESP Association Dinner)
The term ESP doesn't mean what you think it means in this context. ESP stands for Education Support Professionals. In the district, there are 3 employee associations: teachers (Alpine Education Association), administration (don't know the name of that one), and ESP (formerly called classified employees). The ESP's are all the non-teachers in the district. Within the association, there are different groups who elect their own officers to represent their interests to the ESP officers as a whole. For example, some of the groups are: Food Services, Transportation, Custodial Staff, Secretaries, Nursing, and Media Specialists. The dinner was hosted by the ESP officers and the group presidents. The board and district cabinet members were invited to attend. It was strictly for the purpose of getting to know each other. Under Utah Law, the district must negotiate collective bargaining with any association that has a majority membership among the employee group. See the Utah Code here.