Answers to DEA Questions: 4 of 11 – Are schools adequately funded?

Authored April 14, 2010 by Michael Johnson

4.    Do you believe that public schools are adequately funded?  If you do not believe they are adequately funded, what changes should be made to provide appropriate financial support for quality public schools?

I do not think that teachers are adequately funded.  With our current system of funding it concerns me that they probably never will be in Utah unless there is a major shift in demographics or ideology.  At the district level we are somewhat limited as to what tools we have to generate more money for our classrooms.

The most common plan for getting more money into the classroom is to increase taxes.  However with the cost of living, the current tax burden and the wages being earned by our tax payers in Davis County, raising taxes to better fund teachers is not an option.  And although begging the legislature for more money may help in the short run, they face the same concerns of over burdening citizens with taxes and not having enough to go around in most years.  Really raising taxes to fund Davis County teachers is not an option.

Other than raising taxes there are three basic ways to find more funding for our teachers.

The first is to more efficiently and productively use the resources that we currently have so that more of our funds are available to teachers.  Unfortunately with many of the tax dollars that are dispersed to our district, particularly the federal dollars, there is a tremendous amount used for overhead, reporting and some, unfortunately, is wasted. So the funds we do receive are not always spent as well as they could be.  We could more efficiently use the current funding by a more complete use of technology, a more aggressive approach to planning and by creating a culture of greater fiscal accountability in all levels of public education.  I don’t think that we are doing the best we can with what we have.

The second is to encourage economic development in our county, particularly business growth which will increase the size of our tax base.  The district has done some good work in this regard but there is much more that could be done.  The education system in any community is one of the most important tools that it has to grow the local economy, and we need to sharpen our tool and not be afraid to use it.

The third method is to find additional sources of revenue outside of tax money.  Davis School District needs to engage more in building partnerships with businesses in the community.  We should also take better advantage of grants that are available to school districts who engage in innovative programs and who demonstrate the determination to improve.  Some of these private grants can provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to support teachers and their classroom work.  There are examples of other district across the country and even in Utah that have built fantastic partnerships with businesses in the community, Davis County should do more of that in our community.

What are your thoughts on better funding Davis County Schools?

2 Responses to “Answers to DEA Questions: 4 of 11 – Are schools adequately funded?”

  1. Elizabeth Dille says:

    This is one issue I feel very strongly about. I completely agree and support you, Michael. I have the opportunity to tutor reading at North Ogden Elementary. I think it’s so sad how limited the reading specialist is in buying supplies for her students. She does not have any kind of budget and therefore must use money out of her own pocket to buy activities for those kids. It breaks my heart to hear some of those kids read to me at two grade levels lower than they should be reading at. Whether they learn how to read now or not will affect the rest of their lives.
    My mother, who teaches 3rd grade in Davis County, has a student who loves science and math and has a great potential of doing well in it except for the fact that he cannot read very well. She goes out of her way to help him but of course she only wishes she could do more for him.
    Teachers are life savers. They are educating our future leaders. They deserve a decent paycheck as well as decent funds in order to help their students effectively. The future of our nation depends on how we are educating the rising generation! Cutting education funds is cutting into the success of our nation.

  2. Caleb says:

    I like your third point – engage the community and the business sector. As a marketer myself, I can see many opportunities for businesses to gain from the district, and the district to gain from the businesses.

    Many districts and states have highly strict regulations on relationships between the public and private sector . . .

    Michael, can you shed any light on Utah/Davis County’s restrictions on private/public relationships?

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