Showing posts sorted by relevance for query high school. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query high school. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, October 09, 2006

Latest Survey comments

14 responses today (10/9) - ALL in favor (5) One did say the price was too high and one was only "somewhat in favor," and 4 or 5 were through the Utah Educator Network IP; with the request for comments, many were posted - however the last one reverted to true from - "It's outdated"

"standard answer" = (generally) Strongly support, the price is just right, location is great, sell old school. It surprising how many do not know how much the taxes will be. Answers range from a high of $1,000/yr to "not a doesn't matter! Education does!" (comments added below)

Thanks for participating. ; - )

2006-10-09 04:52:01 5 (strongly support) ***price too high *** Get the school off Main Street. Build a new high school big enough for future growth. $50.00 (A lot of comments on growth, why not just manage growth?)

2006-10-09 07:53:14 standard answer

2006-10-09 07:59:47 UEN? 5 ***just right *** Students need a clean, up to date learning environment. Just the necessary work needed to update wiring for computers is overwhelming. Labs should be current with up to date materials. The size of the school also needs to be exapanded to support the growth in our valley. $ not a doesn't matter! Education does! (How much work to do the wiring and who is doing it? Students may have some hands on learning by doing. How much work or cost will wiring the new school be?)

2006-10-09 08:07:49 UEN standard answer Wasatch county is growing at a rapid rate. When new poeple move into a community it is necessary to provide new facilities for them,i.e. schools, roads annd even new stop lights ( and more roads, and schools and stoplights and . . . Who should pay for them? current residents or those creating the need?)

2006-10-09 08:22:26 UEN std answer My children will be attending the high school in this valley, and I would like a structurally sound building for them to attend. By the time my children attend, this high school will be severly over crowded. $250 My high school had a nursery that the students could work in; it helped me make my decision about going into education. *** A gym is necessary. *** This is a great district and a great place to be. As a community we need to support (in every way) the education of the future generation.

2006-10-09 09:18:52 std ans explosive population growth

2006-10-09 09:40:58 UEN std ans A new high school will allow the district to better educate our children. As an example, science labs and computer labs are virtually non-existant in the current high school. A new facility will help us stay competitive educationally. *** As I understand the current plan, I feel they have included all essential elements. *** The benefits of the new facility. They are emphasizing the educational benefits of a new school. (You may have a point on the labs, is it possible to provide without a $60 million school?)

2006-10-09 10:33:50 std ans Our children deserve facilities as good as other high schools. It is a very difficult job for the teachers to try to give comparable educational opportunities without the facilities necessary to do so. They need space to fully explore the arts, and music and sciences. *** Big cafeteria and commons area to keep students on campus during lunch! *** I think our teachers are doing a fabulous job despite the poor facilities. If we want to attract the best teachers we have to offer them great facilities also. ("as good as" or better than all others?)

2006-10-09 10:43:38 UEN std ans The facilities and classrooms at the high school are inadequate for student needs (e.g. limited science labs, computer labs poor heating system, holes in the roof, etc), there are safety and evacuation concerns, the old school can't handle the growth the county is experiencing. *** Our biggest asset in this county is our children. We must invest in them now in order to get great returns later. (DUPLICATED - was it deemed that important, or simply trying to skew the poll, or merely an error?)

2006-10-09 11:15:54 4 A new high school is necessary due to the delapidated state of the old school and the growth occuring in Wasatch County. *** I have some hesitation about the high school. For the cost, $59.5 million, I think we should be including a new rec / aquatic center as well. *** $1,000 *** I have some hesitation about the high school. For the cost, $59.5 million, I think we should be including a new rec / aquatic center as well. *** Wasatch county is a fast growing community. We need to recognize this a be prepared for the future. Our kids are worth the $ to not only build a new high school but also include a rec / aquatic center , to encourage and support them! (hesitation is good, do a little more analysis)

2006-10-09 11:52:48 std ans Students working on sound or lighting are insturced not to touch the ceiling of the auditorium Why is that? well there are toxic things in that room. Things that are in the air that we breath. A new school would be for the best health of all who enter there. $I don't know *** I think it is about time we are building a new school. You have my support (If there are toxic things, why aren't the corrected? Where is the maintenance budget?)

2006-10-09 11:53:53 std ans Wasatch County has a notoriously bad reputation when it comes to education. This is driving talented people away from the community, in search of easily attainable and much better options for their kids. Improving the county starts with a committment to education, which is lacking today. *** Public opinion of the county's commitment to education is that there is none. This reflects on the community as a whole, leaving the perception that our government and citizens are shortsighted and unsophisticated. Changing thisperception will benefit the county greatly over the long-term. (And you truly believe a new school is the answer to all edcucation problems?)

2006-10-09 14:11:51 std ans We need new facilities. Curent one is far out dated. $800.00 *** (A familar litany
! Shouldn't an $800 cost give cause for concern? That's high, by the way)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Legislative Audit Shows High School Over Budget

The cost of the new Wasatch High School appears to be $77 million as opposed to $59.5 authorized in the November 2006 bond which stated "that general obligation bonds would not exceed $59.5 million for the purpose of defraying all or a portion of the costs of land acquisition, equipment, acquisition, and construction of a new high school and related improvements."

The school construction cost is nearly $40 per sq. ft. more expensive than the average of seven high schools built in Utah. It was also the school cited as 20 percent larger than USOE guidelines and had the highest sq. ft. Per student. There were also flaws mentioned in the bidding and contracting processes.

These are all conclusions reached in the recent Utah Auditor General's School Constuction Legislative Audit released in November. Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature had requested a performance audit of school building construction, 21 School Districts were studied. While the report did not name the individual districts audited, it was quite clear that the one school which was highlighted as "the most expensive high school being built during our review period." was right here in Heber.

Wasatch High School construction practices merited five pages of the report, plus other being anonymously mentioned alsewhere. Those pages can be found here. The full report is available here.

While taxpayers are reviewing and paying their property taxes this week, they may remember hearing of the so-called "Truth in Taxation" hearing (See meeting report) where taxpayers were told there was no property tax increase. Checkbooks now show that was in error.

At some point the taxpayers deserve an complete explanation of the school cost AND the source of the funds to pay for the 11 to 25% cost overrun. We, the taxpayers, will now be paying for a school that was 20% too large and 25% too expensive for many years. Hopefully many people will actually read the audit. Click here for more articles on the school bond. I'll try not to say "I told you so."

In recent hearings on school class realignment, information was promulgated on the possible need for additional school construction a Junior High and/or new elementary. Even at the current $66 to $75 million reported price tag, the Wasatch Wave reports that "The total cost for the reconfiguration of the district will come to about $1 million, according to Mr. Shoemaker, and that includes completing portions of the high school that had been slated to be finished later, such as the 4 additional classrooms, the third gym and the little theater."

Many resident attendees reportedly decried the failure to consider using the current high school as a valid and usable building. It would seem pure folly to sell the property in this down economy only to spend millions on new construction in the not too distant future - if plans can be believed. Much of the school is usable and functional although it reportedly is falling into disrepair as normal maintenance seems to be minimal.

Hopefully, taxpayers will be more diligent in asking questions - and getting answers this time. Before any new construction is considered, year round school, which better utilize building resources, must be thoroughly evaluated.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Bid Process, by Tracy Taylor

After an apparently short consideration the AG's office seems to have changed its mind.

AG won't probe bidding for schoolSalt Lake Tribune - United StatesHEBER CITY - The Utah Attorney General's Office will not investigate an allegation that a design contract was awarded unfairly for a proposed $59.5 million ...

(Comment added 11/2) This was submitted as a letter to the Wasatch Wave, which was not printed. Apparently the Trib thought it worthy of reporting.

Critics blast selection process for architect for a new $60 ...Salt Lake Tribune - United StatesPosted: 1:02 PM- HEBER CITY- The Utah Attorney General's Office is reviewing an allegation that a design contract was awarded unfairly for a proposed $59.5 ...

(Forwarded with no comments)

High School Decisions Made in a Bubble.

I wasn't planning on getting involved with the high school bond this year. After the "community jewel" that is the North School turned out to be a very expensive administration building (go check it out, the district offices are quite expansive) I thought they would have tightened their purse strings to show the community they've learned a few lessons from that mismanaged mess. I guess I was being overly optimistic. There was little public input on the new high school design prior to it’s unveiling a few months ago with the announcement of the bond election. I had parents calling me, in the past year, explaining how they tried to talk to certain school board members only to be rebuffed. The board said that they couldn't discuss it for fear it would weaken their bargaining power with the landowner.

The final straw was community members telling me, in the past month, documents were asked for but the school district said they didn't have them to copy. So that's the reason for my last minute investigation... I decided to go in and exercise my civic right to obtain public documents with a GRAMA request. The school district said publicly that they would be "open and straight forward" with the public on this high school bond and welcomed questions, yet I was told by an employee that the delivery of my request would be after the 10 day deadline because each member of the school board was going to look over the packet before they would hand it over. Interesting. I was also charged $218.10- $9.85 of which was the charge for the paper. They figured it took them 12.25 hours to assemble information that was already compiled; budgets, bid process, full financial analysis of bond process, etc. At least half of what they gave me was the facilities committee report from 2004. Information that all Wasatch County residents deserve, comes with a price.

With most school districts a bid process would go something like this: School district decides on a budget and that they want a new design, they determine the needs of their children, they advertise for the bid applications and give the interested firms specific details of what school we want, they share information with ALL applicants that one firm has due to their previous relationship with the district, the firms come back with a bid within our budget for the parameters set by the district and they pick the one that is best for our community.

I called four firms that applied last March, and asked them specific questions. They did not receive any information from our school district that would have helped them determine what we wanted in a high school. A couple of them were so disappointed with the bid process that they have decided not to bid for our school district anymore. They also said that some of the elements of this design aren’t SAFE. They don’t do basements, or long hallways without a door, because that would trap kids inside in a fire or if a gunman entered. They design schools that get the kids out quickly if they have an emergency situation.

There was no effective bid process for these architects to submit a new design based on our "very special" needs assessment that was compiled prior to this process by Sandstrom. If only they would have received that information from our school district to have a fair process, they had the experience to bring great designs to the table. That explains why the design is extravagant to many people. This is how Wasatch bid; Sandstrom was awarded the architectural services bid (with no prior experience in designing a complete high school), we got ONE design from them (after they worked on it a year) based on every department’s wish list, and then the district came up with a price. Kind of backwards! If we knew we wanted a new design, why didn’t we have an open bid for experienced architects to bring ideas to us within a certain budget? That would have been a more cost effective procedure.

In this continuing process, the school board authorized a payment to Sandstrom of $382,500 on August 17, 2006 to continue work on a design that did not go through a bid process, and had ZERO PUBLIC INPUT prior to announcing the bond! (No open houses explaining the design to the taxpayers) Even the previous "facilities committee", who volunteered countless hours a couple years ago, was never asked for their input before it was released to the public. I was at that board meeting. They never mentioned the price, they only said "25% of the total architectural fees." You’d have to know Sandstrom’s fees based on a certain percentage of the construction costs and a calculator…They didn’t advertise in the agenda what they were planning on doing either, as per the open meetings act. This decision to spend OUR money was made before we even had our first public hearing on Sept. 26th.

The school district made decisions in a bubble, which explains the disbelief now of the public on the extravagance of this design. Whether you're for or against the school bond, I thought you needed to know how this process worked to better explain the design and cost. If this bond doesn’t pass, I would think they’d get tired of this rejection and actually come back to us again with hopefully a more cost effective high school, based on PUBLIC INPUT and an actual bid process that could result in a well tested design for a lot less money. I don’t know one person in town that doesn’t think we need a new high school, but our school board took advantage of that, and went over the top. Why? Because they think the outside appearance is more important than the quality of education inside? We can have it OUR way. There are two schools due in 2008 for the same approximate number of students for $32 Mil and $36 Mil., with beautiful facilities. If we do that, we’ll actually save ourselves $20 million to probably totally finance the inevitable renovation of the Jr. High down the road… We’ll be able to get two schools for the price of this one! Not to mention being able to afford to raise the voted leeway for higher teachers salaries and improving our curriculum.

I am for better education, better paid teachers to retain quality, lower class sizes, better curriculum, more choices for students, and a school board that is fiscally responsible and well- managed while achieving these goals.
Tracy Taylor 435 503-1121

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

School Budget Questions

Here are a few questions on the 2009/10 School budget, which were recently sent to the Board of Education for the Public Hearing on 25 June. (A prompt response has been received from Board Chair, Ann Horner (see below) Thank you, Ann.

  • Why are teacher and education salaries decreasing and maintenance increasing? "maintenance went up because of additional staff required for thelarger High School." Are we perhaps spending too much on buildings, cosmetics and frills rather than what is needed - in the classrooms?
  • pg 7 Fund 10 line 2600-180 General Fund Operation and Maintenance Salary increased by $80K "additional personnel to maintain the old high school"
  • pg 19 Fund 32 line 2600-100 Capital Projects Operation and Maintenance Salary increase of $90K "staffing adjustments made to offset the 1.5 million dollar cut from legislature"
  • pg 5 Fund 10 line 1000-100 total General fund Instruction - salary decrease $600K "staffing adjustments made to offset the 1.5 million dollar cut fromlegislatured."***(1000-161 Aides -$130K) "we would love to hire all of the aides back but in lean years we aremaking adjustments to live within the budget." *** 2100-142 General fund Guidance Personnel decrease $70K "We have taken the Utah Behavior Initiative person back as we aretrained and the program can be run without 1/2 time person. We have beenable to take 1/2 time counselor from the 5th 6th school with theconfiguration because of elementary status we don't fund as muchcounselor time to do scheduling an other responsibilities that a 7thgrade would need. If the services are not required we don't have to fundthe personnel."
  • pg 6 Fund 10 line 2300-115 Supervisors directors decrease $100K "We are not replacing Vickie Todd as a Director at this time. We are looking for other Directors and Superintendent to assume theresponsibilities of this position. We feel in these economic times we are all being asked to do a little more. We also reassigned a specialist from the district office to the classroom. We reassigned her work to another specialist in the district."
  • pg 6 line 2400 152 Principals increase $63K

What are "Media Personnel - certificated" at nearly $300K in annual salary (for several years)? "The Media Personnel Certificated is the Librarians in the schools, they have their Media Certification. We pay them at that level not at an aide salary. With the Certification they can be counted as time with aneducator and the teachers in the Elementary schools gain additional preptime without having to loose instructional time with the students.(approx 30 minutes a week.) So that figure is their salaries."

  • Why have general fund revenues increased by 50+% Total revenues by 65+% while enrollment is up only 10%?
  • Why/how did 2008 budget increase by $4million from original to actual? Was it the increase in taxes from higher assessments?? "I believe you are right that the increase in the 2008 budget was fromthe assesments being higher than what we had anticipated."
  • Is the Wasatch school philosophy to spend ALL monies received whether "needed" (in the budget) or not? "We are not in the business of trying to keep spending more. We did not go to truth intaxation to raise more money last year nor this year. We have in fact been putting additional money that we did not budget into the fund balance. We are trying to cut ongoing cost and personnel as we are receiving decreases from legislative funding. We are planning on holding our cost down and using the fund balance to maintain programs and the educational integrity of the district in these difficult times."
  • What was the cost of trading the old Junior High and the Rocky Mountain school grades? Where is it found in the budget?

Are "building" funds (pg 20 line 720) of $66.8 million the cost of the New High School? "We have released the numbers on the high school and they are on the website, (possibly here?) the figure we have put out does include the land, architects,Layton and all fees associated with the high school."

  • This number is consistent with previous reports for the $59.5 bonded school
  • Will the $3.7 M in 2009/10 budget bring the cost to $70.5M?
  • Are land cost, furnishings, equipment, etc. entirely included within these figures?

Supt. Shoemaker reported that $2.8 M of "interest on bond proceeds" were used in payment of High School construction:

  • The budget (2008, 2009) shows $2.1 in interest on Capital Projects funds and $1.1M interest in General Fund
  • Was general fund interest used for construction?

Wasn't there a roughly equivalent amount of interest accrued (but not paid?) "I know we have not changed the schedule of the bond or the payments in any way." on that bond? If so, haven't we merely created more debt and postponed payments to future years and spent MORE money than what the project was sold to the voters?

"I do appreciate thoughtful questions and hope that they will make me a betterboard member. I will look into your questions and try to answer any thatI have not at this time. "

"As I have sat in the meetings it is clear to me that we need to be sensitive and conservative in what we take from the public. I have tried to be frugal and to spend thetaxpayers money responsibly."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Comments: "Citizens" for "Better" Schools on Facebook

Regrettably, or thankfully, I don't "DO" Facebook, but some folks are promoting the $62,000,000 School (and POOL, again) Bond (good for them).  I can read it, but not comment so I will post a few responses here.
Names of posters have been removed here.  It's assumed that "Citizens for..."  is the page moderator.

Moderator:  (Re Year-Round) "It isn't a failing option as far as test scores and retention for the students. It is a very viable option. It is the parents that are moving the school districts away from the YRS option. Smaller schools are better academically and adding on only makes the number of students bigger in that building. Having smaller numbers in more schools is an academically better environment for the students. That is why the district does not want to add on and would rather build new schools. As parents we do have a choice in this and your questions are great! Thank-you!"  AND
Moderator: Just to be clear, year round school is not a long-term option because it only solves the problem of overcrowding at the elementary level (which includes TIS) but does not deal with the overcrowding at the high school or Rocky Mountain Middle School. Year round school might delay the need to bond by a few years but the school board would need to bond relatively soon for new buildings.

Response: Yes, parents DO have a choice, as do ALL taxpayers and voters.  It would have been nice if more (positive) information had been provided and discussed with the public and the viability of year-round and better utilization.  As the only presenter to the school board said - parents and teachers generally liked YRE once they learned about it and used it.  She also stated that it needs a year or two of community preparation to educate the public. For more of her comments.  
 (This is a fairly objective report posted by the School district's (paid) Social Media Manager who monitors and reports posts for the School district.)

Commenter: We moved from year round schools which we did for 7 years- my guess is the real reason parents voted to go back could stem to the nightmare it is when you have elementary kids on year round and older kids on traditional. I loved it when all my kids were year round/ we really enjoyed traveling when the rest of the world didn't and found that even in tough terms/stretches/homework loads, you could do anything for 9 weeks knowing you'd get 3 to catch up and relax.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Those Who Do Not Learn From History . .

As we contemplate this $62 Million bond for two new schools and a POOL  (closer to $80,000,000 total with interest), consider the possibility of  'overruns.'    History may offer some good experience to learn from.

Here's a bit of fiscal history for the school district:
   2008-9 budget shows $23M for high school - funding source unknown 
The Utah Legislature had requested a performance audit of school building construction, 21 School Districts were studied. While the report did not name the individual districts audited, it was quite clear that the one school which was highlighted as "the most expensive high school being built during our review period." was right here in Heber.  Pertinent excerpts can be found here., or check out the complete 2008 Utah Legislative Audit on School Building Construction

For those new in the District AND for those with longer memories, you may want to review the old North School History (aka Wasatch Education Center, now)  Check this 1998-2004 History

For Fiscal History, it is also appropriate to look at Budgets.   Try this from 2013 
How about the Football Stadium at $3,500,000 plus?   Here's a brief budget overview of budgets from 2004 to 2013 comparing revenues to enrollment year by year.
2005 vs. 2013 TOTAL revenue79.4%
2005 vs. 2013 gen fund 71.5%

See the post below about property tax receipts which were over the School Budget (again.) Here's how they handled the surplus in a 'get-away' meeting on 24 Apr 2013:

Daniels Summit, recording part 1- WCSD Daniels Summit Lodge Meeting 042413 A– local school district funding 101, 32:30 min. into recording business administrator talks about total dollars for 2013 budget is $1.5 mil better than expected. 37:00 min into recording school board compares spending taxpayer’s money to doing drugs “Just say no”. 37:30 into -All total expenses. 40:00 min into- better fiscal situation than last year. 41:00 min. supt. introduction to digital conversion. Digital conversion presentation by secondary curriculum director, Paul Sweat. $1 million for next (1) year, 6th and 7th grades! following years, high school conversion.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Demolition or devolution

School Demolition  (expansion of a local Letter to the Editor)

About two weeks ago the School District was seeking public comments concerning demolition of the old high school. I responded with this Email to the board (to their .edu addresses):

“As I was not able to attend your public comment period concerning the disposition of the old high school, I will offer you my 'outside the box view,' if I may.

I would strongly oppose demolishing the old High School. I maintained when the new school was proposed that it was a viable building and continue to view it as such. I have not yet seen the analysis of the financial 'benefits' of the demolition, but question whether the school district should become a developer or land manipulator.

All schools are, obviously, built with taxpayer dollars. (mainly local). I understand an attempt was made to sell the building to the County for several ($9 ?) million when it was vacated. That exchange would have simply transferred money for the taxpayers left pocket to the right pocket. A simple transfer may have been a benefit to all. It could have provided office space, theater and a rec center (for which the county subsequently spent other tax millions on).

I would strongly urge, before demolition, a sincere consideration of:
  • (1) using the building as a school (I understand that is apparently not given much approval by the education establishment.)
  • (2) selling, trading or donating the building to Heber City, which is currently considering a large expenditure for a public safety building. Again it is nearly the same basic taxpayers (Heber has about 60% of the county population) There is also a problem with required impact fees (which would not be a problem if Heber owned the building)
Demolishing the building would NOT necessarily guarantee a sale. So, if that becomes the chosen avenue, I would urge including the demolition in any sales agreement and hold out hope that the building might be used.

Thank you for your consideration of this proposal to transfer the property to Heber City. I trust it will yield a discussion with the officials involved. The transfer might also solve a problem with Heber's eventual need for larger office space AND possibly allow Wasatch County additional meeting space. WIN, WIN, WIN
In any event, we, the taxpayers, will continue to pay the bills. Let's look for ways to minimize taxes wherever levied.”
No response, of any type, was received.

Last week in the Wave, I read that Supt. Shoemaker said, “It may be time to look at the property without the existing buildings.” However, it appears that the decision had already been made and plans were well underway well before the public comment meeting!   (Note that there is already discussions with Mountain America CU as a buyer of Lot 1)

Heber City received proposals from the school district for a commercial development last month (or earlier).  Click here for the development plans  (about page 12)   C

Given that school districts are given some exceptions to zoning laws, impact fees and various regulations, a few more questions need to be answered.   

Is it appropriate for a school district to be a land developer? Are they going to be involved with “redevelopment agencies”? Is their any guarantee of a sale after the $700K demolition, and additional development costs? What will be the full cost of the redevelopment, history shows than some previous financial estimates have been more than a little bit off.

The Wave reported Mr Shoemaker saying that “many local government entities expressed interest,” but none acted. Perhaps it was the proffered price which was millions higher than the latest suggested 'value.' Board Chair Baird suggests that the “school would retain rights to types of businesses” on the property. Is the proposal really to sell, or to manage, the proposed 11 lot subdivision with offices, gas stations, restaurants and retail?  (At least no high rises dwellings were suggested.)

If this is such a potentially profitable deal, why hasn't some enterprising individual, or company, jumped on the opportunity? Or will it be easier for the school district to get approval than a normal commercial developer? Just consider how much tax money could have been saved by working WITH “local government entities,” five years ago rather than trying to extract top dollar from the left tax pocket to the right? Let's have the real discussion.
Addendum:  the Heber Planning Commission gave concept approval in their 9 Jan 2014 meeting  The link contains the agenda, info packet and audio.

WSD estimates demolition cost at $700K for the old high School, Heber suggest $350K (?) for the old central school to build the proposed Public Safety building.

Friday, March 31, 2006

March News bits

3/30 Sanderson to take Iowa State postSioux City Journal - Sioux City,IA,USA... collegiate champ with a 159-0 record. The native of Heber City, Utah, has been a full-time assistant at Iowa State the past two seasons. ...
Malcolm H. Beck has carved out an enduring legacyDeseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... Beck was born a twin in Heber City but grew up in American Fork, graduating from American Fork High School, attending the College of Eastern Utah, Brigham ...
National honor caps Fackrell's Westminster careerSalt Lake Tribune - United States... potential All-American. A Utahn by way of Lehi and Heber City, Fackrell came to Westminster with patellar tendonitis in both knees. ...
Lehi's Swenson throws perfect game; Wasatch soccer winsDaily Herald - Provo,UT,USA... Wasatch 4, Morgan 3: At Heber City, there was hail, snow, wind, sleet, sun and snow during the game, but the Wasps had to also contend with a persistent Morgan ...

3/29 Cowboys stung by Wasps on diamondTooele Transcript-Bulletin - Tooele,UT,USA... for nine runs in the first two innings while Wasatch tandem Jeff Kohler and Josh Provost combined for a no-hit shutout to propel the Heber City-based school to ...
Buffs show poise in victoriesTooele Transcript-Bulletin - Tooele,UT,USA... Lindquist Field. The Buffs are scheduled also to venture to Heber City Saturday for a preseason contest with the Wasps at noon. The game ...
Treatment plant stops accepting septic tanksDaily Herald - Provo,UT,USAThe action by the Heber Valley Special Service District and Wastewater Treatment Facility, which serves Heber City, Midway, Jordanelle and outlying subdivisions ...

3/27 Hurricane Resident Turns 90Hurricane Valley Journal - Hurricane,UT,USA... She then attended the University of Utah and became a schoolteacher. After one year of teaching at Charleston, near Heber City, Utah, Leila decided to marry. ...
Talent PoolSalt Lake Tribune - United States... Theater Company is holding auditions for "The Music Man" on Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 to 8 pm at the Senior Citizens Center 465 E. 1200 South in Heber City. ...

3/26 Hurricane Resident Turns 90Hurricane Valley Journal - Hurricane,UT,USA... She then attended the University of Utah and became a schoolteacher. After one year of teaching at Charleston, near Heber City, Utah, Leila decided to marry. ...
Talent PoolSalt Lake Tribune - United States... Theater Company is holding auditions for "The Music Man" on Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 to 8 pm at the Senior Citizens Center 465 E. 1200 South in Heber City. ...

3/24 Walk-on quarterbacks have big dreamsDaily Herald - Provo,UT,USA... McEuen (6-2 200) had an All-State senior year at Wasatch High in Heber City, throwing for 2,539 yards and 23 touchdowns in leading the Wasps to the 3A state ...
Buffs don’t waste opportunitiesTooele Transcript-Bulletin - Tooele,UT,USA... squad is also set to travel to Murray Tuesday for a preseason tilt with the Spartans at 3:30 pm The Buffs are also scheduled to venture to Heber City April 1 ...
Campus notesDeseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Shalee Fackrell, 6-foot center from Heber City, has been named to the Kodak/WBCA All-America First Team. Fackrell ...

3/23 Field notesJackson Hole Star-Tribune - Casper,WY,USA... press release. Regional tournaments are scheduled near Heber City, Utah on March 31-April 2, and in Michigan on May 6-7. For more ...
Utah Business in BriefSalt Lake Tribune - United States... Parts stores in 22 Western states, has announced it is opening six new Checker Auto Parts stores in Centerville, Herriman, Draper, Midvale, Heber City and Provo ...
Prep baseball roundupDaily Herald - Provo,UT,USA... LP--Curtis. 2B--Reynolds (T), Brinkerhoff (S). Wasatch 3, Uintah 0: At Heber City, the Wasps shutout visiting Uintah in its first Region 10 game of the season. ...

3/21 Cowboys beat Bulldogs, fall to PioneersTooele Transcript-Bulletin - Tooele,UT,USA... The Cowboys are slated to venture to Heber City Thursday for a non-league affair against the Wasps at 3 pm but the game could be moved to Grantsville due to ...
Talking sports — Arguing buddies go publicDeseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USAHEBER CITY — Wasatch High School buds Tyler Moss and Tyler Baird like to argue. They're actually good friends at heart, but seeing ...

3/20 2006 Season - Provo,UT,USA... Barrett is a 6-foot-2 freshman from Timpview HS in Provo, while McEuen enters camp as a 6-foot-2 freshman from Wasatch High School in Heber City, Utah. ...

3/18 US relay slow to startSalt Lake Tribune - United States... Heber City's Chris Klebl struggled with the mass start, where racers have to jockey for position like the start of a 1,500-meter track race. ...
High School Baseball Players Accused Of HazingKUTV - Salt Lake City,UT,USAGEORGE Several Wasatch High School baseball players are accused of hazing and ... The Washington County Attorney's Office will then determine whether charges will ...

3/17 Summit County mulls changing form of governmentSalt Lake Tribune - United States... Grand and Wasatch counties have seven-member councils with appointed managers. Morgan County elects a seven-member council, but has no executive. ...

3/16 Steve Cook Claims Second Cross-Country Skiing Gold at ParalympicsFirst Tracks - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... In the men’s sit-skier 10K, Chris Klebl (LW-11; Heber City, UT) had the top US result, finishing 18th. Kelly Underkofler (LW-8; St. ...
Steve Cook wins gold medal in 10K - USA... In the men’s sitting 10K race, Chris Klebl (Heber City, Utah) was the highest US finisher, taking 18th place with a time of 29:24.3. ...
3 Utah art students honoredDeseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... Congressional District. • Brandon Cullimore, Wasatch High School in Heber City — 2nd Congressional District. • Kent Miller ...
PC Enclosures, Inc. Provides Innovative and Unique Computer (press release) - Eden Prairie,MN,USA... A wall mount bracket option is also available. PC Enclosures is based in Heber City, UT, 40 Miles SE of Salt Lake City, UT. At PC ...
Olympian is finally the fastestDeseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... in 1912; Natalie Williams of Taylorsville, who was on the winning US women's basketball team at Sydney in 2000; and Cael Sanderson of Heber City, who got his ...

3/15 Police investigate possible hazingDeseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... George police are investigating an alleged hazing incident involving members of Heber City's Wasatch High School baseball team. ...
Update: Utah Paralympian wins second goldSalt Lake Tribune - United States... 16th. In the men's sitting 10K, Chris Klebl of Heber City was 18th, the highest US finisher. Russia's Tara Kryjonovski won the gold.
For the RecordSalt Lake Tribune - United States... There were no injuries. The Wasatch County School District is investigating, and several players have been suspended, said Superintendent Terry Shoemaker.

3/14 Hazing Allegations Get Students SuspendedKSL-TV - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... Terry Shoemaker, Superintendent, Wasatch County School District: "No such activity involving hazing will be tolerated in our school district. ...

3/14 First patent awarded in 1790Deseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... 60/421,212, filed Oct. 25, 2002. Patent No. 6,996,864. • Quick and easy campfire. John Leo Paul III, Heber City. Filed Nov. 7, 2003. Patent No. 6,997,176. ...

3/10 Road conditions blamed for string of car accidentsDaily Herald - Provo,UT,USA... US Highway 189 in Provo Canyon was a closed for about 45 minutes while Wasatch County authorities responded to an accident on their side of the canyon, he said ...

3/7 Tech college gets campus fundsDeseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... There also are campuses in American Fork, Springville, Heber City and Park City. In the fall, a new campus will open in Spanish Fork.

3/2 Home costs in Utah see a big jumpDeseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... a real estate developer in Wasatch County, said home prices at his high-end Cobblestone development, located two miles east of Heber City's Main Street, have ...

3/1 Salt Lake Dining Awards -- eat 'em upDeseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... And Barbara Hill of Snake Creek Grill in Heber City won the unofficial award for "Best Rock Star Strut" as she boogied her way up to accept her two awards.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Red Ledges Fiscal Impact Analysis - A Pig in a Poke???

It’s axiomatic that developers and promoters will use numbers to prove and promote their particular project. This appears to be the case with Red Ledges. Is it really the Cash Cow some in the Heber City Government expect??

Heber City Revenue

For the Heber City Tax revenue the study apparently uses a proposed SALE price as the assessed value. These sales prices are, at best, an estimate - probably optimistic at that. While tax value assessment is supposedly equal to "market" value, houses in the valley currently offered for sale at $600K often carry an assessment of about $300K. Therefore, it could be concluded that the tax revenues predicted by using the anticipated sales price may be inflated by a factor of TWO.

It is not clear whether the tax computation separates the land value from the house value. The general Fund revenue would then be $870K rather than $1,750K. The net benefit to the general fund would then be a negative $250K - rather than +$625.

School Costs

School Children are computed at 0.51 per household for a total of 699 students; the County uses 0.8 yielding 1096 students.

***To determine the number of school age children, wouldn't it be logical to divide the number of school children (~4300) by the number of primary homes (total minus the number of secondary homes) - for a school children per house ratio and then multiply by the number of houses in the development or use households: 4000/4743 = 0.84 (2000 enrollment guess and census households) or 4300/18974 * 3.18 = 0.72 (2005 pop.)
(A computation of Timp Meadows showed about 1.6 students/household a few years ago)

Red Ledges study uses 2005 figures and does NOT include the new High School bond which raises the per student cost by $150 (?)

NCES figures show local share of education costs at $3305/student.
1096 students @ $3305 = $3,620,000 Education Cost

Including the increase from the new bond cost 1096 @$3450 = $3,800,000

School Tax generated based on the factor of TWO overestimate would yield $4,500K

Net Results

The net benefit to Heber City indicated in the fiscal report ($625K city + $6,900K school ) appears to be overstated and the more conservative figures might be -$250K and $700K.

The report indicates that the School District is able "to accommodate this proposed increase" indicating that the current taxpayer have, or will be, paying for the current "excess" capacity. A more rational scenario would be for the development to pay for one additional high School (current $60 million for 1500 students = $40M) one Junior High, ($10M); one Middle school ($8M), and on elementary ($7M) to educate the 1000 children brought with the development. (total $65M or $4700 per unit).

The figures also represent amounts at build-out which may be 10 - 20 years and is base on current cost rather than the additional costs which will be created by service required by the development. It does not seem to include the increase in infrastructure cost to the County (e.g. new roads - widening Center St. or Bypass, which would be required to handle the increased traffic; police protection, etc.).

Friday, October 09, 2015

Bursting at the Seams?

The School Bond proposal points out that enrollment is growing in the district (as it has for years) and we need a bond for schools because of that growth.    Given that proposition, it seemed logical to determine what the actual capacity of each school was and how close we are to "full."   

(Addendum 10/9): After another request for school capacities AND submitting the compiled capacities below, the District finally responded    "The capacities in the schools you have supplied are reasonably accurate except J.R. Smith, which is 750 (when the addition was completed in 2006)."  If so, the the numbers in the next paragraph would be 90%/83%/78%)  The school district also maintains that the YRS plan they are using ONLY increases effective capacity by 25%, which would still be an increase of 1660 - nearly the capacity of the two proposed schools)

Click here for an School Enrollment Calculator, to allow YOU to predict the growth and incoming Kindergarten enrollment, based on entered 2104 enrollment figures.

First, the ANSWER, Wasatch School District is only at 89% of total capacity, 82% if portable classrooms are included.   Even stranger, the 'overcrowded' elementary schools are at 76% capacity, again not including portables. 
  • JR Smith was expanded for an additional 250 students, in 2006
  • HVE added 8,000 sq ft in 2012, for 100 students. 
  • Elementary schools are K-5, the effective enrollment could be 50 or so LESS, as kindergarten is half day. 
  • The 2004 report noted  "This past year, by far the largest increase in the District rolls (sic) occurred in the kindergarten age group." In 2014, kindergarten showed a large DECREASE. 
  • The "North Campus has an enrollment of about 25, reportedly with room for 100. 
  • At one time the old North School had classroom space. 
  • Year Round School utilization could increase the effective capacity of the district to about 8,800, without considering the portables. (9,600 with)
  • The proposed two new schools would increase the capacity to 9,218 with portables.

Now, the explanation of how the capacity numbers were found/determined:
That information was rather difficult to find.  By comparison our neighbors in Duchesne placed that information WITH their proposal.  An internet search found a new 'transparency' for School district Capital Outlay Reports showing school construction records back to 2004.

Only two WSD schools are new since 2004, the High School . . . .

Friday, November 06, 2015

'Inappropriate" Bond Promotion

Has anyone in the school district ever used 'deceptive' (or illegal) tactics before?

2006 'First' school bond for $46 M high school  (aka, give us the money, trust us)  School children were used to bring home flyers to encourage a YES vote

2006 In a private Survey to ascertain public opinion on the school bond:
"The next day (9/28), between 8:15 AM and 10:55PM, the poll received an astounding 87 responses to the survey - even more astounding, 80 were STRONGLY IN FAVOR, 4 were somewhat in favor and 2 were opposed, but only a few were sent from the above mentioned IP addresses.

Are we now witnessing a spontaneous uprising of the masses in favor of better education of "the children" through bricks?

Friday, the deluge continued with 49 "responses" with a mere three opposed. The capping finality occurred late in the evening. The last 13 of the evening were posted from 10:08:07 PM to 10:22:38 from the same IP (Comcast) (or computer?) 13 responses in 14 minutes shows a great deal of thought and consideration, doesn't it."

Where did nearly all the respondent comments originate?  The  "Utah Educator Network IP" 
Read more here

2007:  TnT for 50% TAX Increase   "We're raising teacher salaries."  No, the Legislature did that.
"we, the truth seekers were informed that the school district was awarding a 3.5% pay increase to the school teachers at a cost of $2.6 million to the district. State legislative officials at the meeting were unclear if the district was taking credit for the pay increase mandated and funded by the state or if the local district had funded an addition increase. However, when asked for an estimate of the total payroll, (10, 20 or 80 million??), school officials were unable to come up with an a ready estimate. The figure, according to the 2007 budget, was $10,669,428. (Page 5, item 131) 3.5 % of that is $373,000 NOT $2.6 million."
2008:  In the campaign for the second try for a High School  ($59.5M, this time).  A local radio program was promoting the "fiscally responsible" - "let's be serious" concept.   Being offended by the opposition, two gentlemen from the School District arrived shortly after nearly ever program with a pre-recorded program promoting the virtues of new edifice.  (apparently prepared in the school, during school time and by school employees - who often arrived in a school driver ed vehicle.   (aka expending tax money to promote a bond election)

There's more,  (did we ever report being called to the 'Principal's (aka supt) office) . . . . . .  but, we just had another election;  maybe the 'tricks' will be reported, but it might sound like sour grapes for a loss.  (robo-calls to selected individuals, push survey, interesting donors, activities)   

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Brief Overview of School Finance History

A brief outline overview of WSD financial history, (those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.)

2007 49.33% tax increase through “Truth in Taxation” More here
  • Presentation mainly about mil rates – NOT dollars 
  • Board declared need because of a 3.5% salary increase (actually that was done by state)
  • This massive increase resulted in massive spending increases above student growth ever since
2008-9 budget shows $23M for high school - funding source unknown 
Utah code specifies no transfers betweenfunds without state school board permission
USOE rules state the no 'unassigned' funds can be kept in funds other than “General” Other fund balances must be allocated.

The improperly noticed WSD Jul 2012 budget hearing had No budget available for hearing 
  •  received 'expanded' budget copy after repeated requests
  • Found excessive Gen Fund reserve balance ca. $5 million
  • With that expanded info, more data found in SAO audit submissions
WTPA requested return of excess funds at 2nd budget heating (Aug)
  • WSD Business Administrator produced extra budget page showing 'unassigned' and 'undistributed'  anddeclared ONLY 'undistributed' was limited to 5%
  • WSD Business Administrator said it was OK because at least 3 other districts had larger % balances
  • Board members declared the 'Rainy Day' fund was needed for unseen expenses
  • WSD response 
  • WTPA asked for time at next meeting to discuss the issue – refused!

School board policies should be altered to reflect a policy of fiscal responsibility, conservatism and respect for taxpayers, in addition to declared goal of educating students.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Truth in Education (Construction) Costs

It appears that the School District has opted not to release ALL of the teacher's aides, finding money to keep perhaps two thirds of them. It was nice to read on the School website that several of these proposed suggestions were adopted.

Earlier, funding had been "found" to build the third high school gym, and finish adding bricks and mortar. An analysis of recent school budget leads to the conclusion this should have come as no surprise. In the last five years, 2005 - 2009 Wasatch school district has had a 10% increase in enrollment BUT a 65% increase in revenues/expenditures. Click here for a Summary Report ( and here for the Source. Total revenue to the district in 2009 - about $47 Million or $9,760 per student. 2005: $28 million for 4,303 students (you can divide for per student)

Several questions were asked of school representatives in a recent radio interview, click here and here to listen (two parts). In particular, one question was asked about the source of the funds for the third gym et al (sports/frills - as opposed to teachers/education). While an answer was not given in the interview, subsequently it was reported that the interest "earned" from placing construction bond funds in the bank had to be spent on construction rather than operations according to state law.

According to a phone call with the Utah State of Education, finance department that was close but not totally correct, BUT it is a Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (the website name sounds somewhat like 'gasbag'). Rather than a law, it seems to be customary practice in Utah to build 'more' school for the bond money than the advertised funds requested. This practice, of course, merely increases the costs by forcing the interest to be PAID to the end of the bond payments. It may seem strange to some, but banks generally do not provide money through a loan without paying interest from the day of receipt of funds. This procedure is reminiscent of the buy now, pay later philosophy that was so prevalent in leading up to our current national economic crisis. . . (and regrettably continues)

This little procedural interpretation allows bonds to be proposed to the taxpayers for a certain amount with the full knowledge that the costs will be substantially higher - Does this like a bit of subterfuge, bait and switch, or just a little distortion of the truth for sales purposes?

So the answer to the source of the funds appears to be simply that the money was already there, the Board was just required to give the approval for its expenditure. A second source for the money may have been the excess taxation that was received through increased assessments prior to the correction of the tax rates. In either case the Truth in taxation hearings were vastly deficient.

Several other questions remain unanswered, but the overriding answer to most seems to be "we have the money and we will spend it, building bigger and 'better' to satisfy our edifice complex" and the taxpayers are available later for increase to cover operation costs with a truth in taxation hearing.

Oh, on the subject of the NEED for a third gym. Consider this: with only TWO gyms, (at least 4 teaching stations) 1 Wrestling room, Batting room, Cheer/Dance room, Racketball (sic) Court, Student Weight room, 2 sports (?) classroom - for a total of at least 11 sport 'teaching' stations - at merely 6 periods periods per day and 20 students per class; there would apparently be enough space to have 1320 students in some sort of physical education class every single school day. Wasatch High will have the most physically fit graduates in the state!

But, planned enrollment is only 1200, AND PE is only required for 3 semesters (not eight) during four years of high school and probably does not meet daily. It certainly appears that TWO gyms would have been MORE than sufficient.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is the new high school too expensive?

The Vote Yes for a new High School website has a list of "Frequently Asked Questions" (as the site is relatively know, how frequently could they have been asked?)

#9 Poses this question - and "answer." Is the new high school too expensive? In 1964, the bond passed to build the current high school cost 17% of the value of all property in Wasatch County. The 2006 bond is only 3% of all property value. The building is not elaborate, but it is a sound educational design.

So effectively they are saying, if you don't support this bond you are a cheapskate and not willing to support education the children. In actuality, this comparison doesn't answer the question and is irrelevant. BUT, are the figures even correct?

An interesting little anomaly here. Cost, data and sources are not provided for their conclusion. According to the Wasatch County Offices the total property value for 1964 is not readily available, however the ASSESSED value record is available on microfilm (which was reportedly used to research the figures.)

However, from 1961 - 1978 the Statutory Assessment Level (% of Market Value) was 30 %. Currently it is 100% (with a 45% residential exemption). See Property Tax History

So, if assessed values are being used rather than market values, the cost of the 1964 school would have been more like 5% - if we compare apples to apples!!! What's that old adage - figures can lie, and . . . ?

What was the price of the 1964 school used in the calculation? No number or source is given.

What was the real assessed/ appraised/??? property values in Wasatch County in 1964?

What is it today? (2005 WASATCH $1,888,743,778) Today, indeed, $60 million is 3%
In 2000, total property value was $1,288,186,733

Friday, August 17, 2007

TRUTH (?) in Taxation

I took the opportunity to attend the “Truth in Taxation” for the proposed 49.34% in “School District property tax revenue for the prior year.” I’m sad to have to report that there were two major losers at that meeting - Wasatch County taxpayers and the TRUTH.

To no one’s surprise, the tax increase was passed unanimously by the school board. Many in attendance felt the School Board was as confused as the audience. The hearing began with an archaic, involved and totally irrelevant dissertation on tax, or mil, rates. Nine basic levies, certified rates, maximums, minimums, assessments, etc.; the end result being "It’s not our fault, the assessor made us do it.” People actually wanted to hear about DOLLARS, tax revenues, school expenditures, and, particularly, individual property tax payments!

An overview of the historical budget can be found here. 2004 to 2008 = 55% increase in school expenditures, with a 9% increase in students.

Continuing with the fairy tale presented by the Wave Education Writer (and District publicist) that, according to Superintendent Shoemaker, “the growth of (the) tax bill is reflective of an increase in property value;” school officials carefully tried to place the blame for higher taxes on the County Assessor and the increase in property values. Au contraire, dear school officials, the increase is due to the actions of the School Administration/Board in RAISING THE TAX RATE, which was the very reason for the hearing being held. Strike One on truth and the taxpayer.

Royce van Tassell, of the Utah Taxpayers Association publicly described the presentation as disingenuous. He may have been too kind. Through various machinations, manipulations, sleight of hand and outright chicanery, school officials concluded that “the total debt service (not just the high school) has dropped to $10.95 per hundred thousand dollars” as reported by the Wave Education Writer (does the Wave pay him for his articles?) and reiterated that idea at the meeting. Anyone with a modicum of math ability can look at their tax notice to determine the cost is closer to $100/per $100K; the increase alone from 2007 to 2008 is more than the $10.95. Strike Two against truth and the taxpayer.

Anyone fortunate enough to find a copy of the
debt fund budget can easily see that the (annual repayment) increased by 85% from 2007 to 2008. (See category 31- and also note that the Capital project fund increased by 25%) School officials explained that the "great reduction" resulted from lower rates and the fact they only borrowed $45 of the $60 million. They neglected to mention that the remaining $15 million will be accessed next year or that some of the excess tax revenues received in 2007 (through new growth) may have been used to pay down some debt. Nor did they mention that the Capital Project fund might be used to fund some of the school "frills" or pet projects. They also failed to mention that the first year of payment is apparently interest only (sounds like some current subprime loans)

And the wind up and the pitch . . . To massive adulation by many of the teachers present, we, the truth seekers were informed that the school district was awarding a 3.5% pay increase to the school teachers at a cost of $2.6 million to the district. State legislative officials at the meeting were unclear if the district was taking credit for the pay increase mandated and funded by the state or if the local district had funded an addition increase. However, when asked for an estimate of the total payroll, (10, 20 or 80 million??), school officials were unable to come up with an a ready estimate. The figure, according to the 2007 budget, was $10,669,428. (Page 5, item 131) 3.5 % of that is $373,000 NOT $2.6 million. Stee-rrriiicke THREE, you’re OUT of here. Truth and taxpayers lose!

There was more, of course, mostly equally embarrassing. The final question from the audience, “If you are increasing taxes by 50%, why are teachers only getting 3.5% increase?” While somewhat an apple and orange comparison the answer given by a school board member, ‘well. 39% of the 7 million is going to the salary increase.’ Presumably the aforementioned erroneous $2.6 million (sometimes mentioned as 2.7) was divided by the $7 million for THAT 39% result.

A teacher testified that the school was making vast improvements through vertical and horizontal collaboration and the recent understanding that they needed to focus on what was being learned rather than what was being taught.

(It might be noted that Wasatch scored quite poorly in math in UPASS Considering Albert Einstein's comment
Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach judging from the mathematical prowess exhibited at this meeting, perhaps we've found the reason.)

Recently graduated student Jeremy Heftel may defy that mathematical mold; he exhibited more understanding by his comments than most of the others at the meeting seemed to have.

In the middle of the public discussion, the audience was entertained by a commercial interruption of a Boyer Co. development representative extolling the tax benefits of their proposed development.

Many from the public decried the lack of information provided at the meeting and on the website. Particularly missing was budget information and even addresses or contacts for the Board members. As witnessed by the links above in this blog, it is not difficult to provide the public with budget information. If anyone wants the full 29 pages, it could be easily posted AND at NO COST!!!

Several people attempted to determine the total cost of the new High School, but were told the information was not available yet.

Oh, by the way, in the latter part of the meeting the contracts for the School Superintendent and Business Administrator were approved, no mention of a pay increase.

Wait, there's more, but my cynicism meter has pegged out, so
I conclude on a positive note. The School Board promised to include some Email addresses on the website . . . . but indicated they may not consistently read them.

All is well in Wasatch. . . . .

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New High school over budget??

Ogden School District grapples with a $40 million shortfall, with plenty of projects in the pipe - excerpt:

Ogden district isn't alone.

Wasatch School District voters approved a $59.5 million bond in November 2006. The district estimated $50 million to construct its new high school and $9.5 million for the land purchase and furniture.

Bids are still coming in and could be decided in mid-June. But Wasatch district officials believe the total will be much higher than was originally projected.

"All of us (school districts) are going through sticker price shock," said Wasatch Superintendent Terry Shoemaker.

"Cost of square footage has gone up in the last few months," Shoemaker said. "It doesn't take a genius to know part of it is gas and diesel prices making construction costs go up."

He said the district hopes it won't have to cancel its new high school project in Heber City. Instead, officials will look at economizing on materials or cutting back on square footage.

Wasatch district is using architect and construction companies different from those Ogden district is using. "We are talking about economic forces at work here -- not bad data," Shoemaker said.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

School Bond Survey

With a reasonable number of responses to the poll on Wasatch County growth, including many excellent comments; a poll was created concerning the proposed School Bond hoping to gain some more comments (pro and con) on the issue.

The growth issue poll was, from its inception, overwhelmingly of the opinion that Wasatch has too much growth and is not doing well at managing it. The School bond received mixed responses of about 55% opposed to 35% favoring. At least until September 25 through 27, when 17 responses arrived. Remarkably, 11 were "Strongly in favor" of the Bond and most made a comment about the current school being outdated or old. On further analysis of the results, it was found that five of these responses came from the same IP address and four came from another.

Lo and behold, the first IP ( was traced back to the "Utah Educational Network" The second (192.107.181.) is assigned to Utah Valley State College Org.

On Wednesday, 9/27, two officials from the Wasatch County School District were interviewed on KTMP about education and school bond issues. After the online interview, this curious coincidence was mentioned to these individuals - with virtually no response.

The next day (9/28), between 8:15 AM and 10:55PM, the poll received an astounding 87 responses to the survey - even more astounding, 80 were STRONGLY IN FAVOR, 4 were somewhat in favor and 2 were opposed, but only a few were sent from the above mentioned IP addresses.

Are we now witnessing a spontaneous uprising of the masses in favor of better education of "the children" through bricks?

Friday, the deluge continued with 49 "responses" with a mere three opposed. The capping finality occurred late in the evening. The last 13 of the evening were posted from 10:08:07 PM to 10:22:38 from the same IP (Comcast) (or computer?) 13 responses in 14 minutes shows a great deal of thought and consideration, doesn't it.

Most of the comments indicated the belief that their taxes would GO DOWN! One respondent (who actually twice at 2006-09-29 22:11:30 AND at 2006-09-29 22:10:55) said "I have a house on an acre valued at $750,000, my taxes are only going up $16." Can anyone seriously believe a $60 million bond will NOT raise taxes?

His (or their) other comments: "The cost per 100,000 is $3 less than the Heber Valley bond that was passed approximately 6 years ago, and we are getting $50 million more worth of building. The Heber Valley bond will be paid off 4 years earlier, and has gone from $81 per $100,000 property valuation to $18 per $100,000 property valuation. Please do your homework prior to using an internet survey macro. Give me a break. Math and statistics lab, so people like you who made a weak attempt at designing a survey, might be better educated through their children attending a state-of-the-art facility.

This is a stupid survey. You don't ask any demographic questions, like whether I am on a fixed income or whether I am worth $2 million dollars. Don't you think this would have an impact on my answers. This is an example of the uneducated population in this valley, and just another reason to have a new high school so our future generations can appropriately design and execute a survey that evaluates objectively the local opinion."

Shall we post the name of this poll taker???

While all poll responses are appreciated, a little originality, logic and respect in the comments is strongly encouraged.

The proponents of the School Bond now have a web site - Vote Yes for a New Wasatch High School. We would encourage everone to carefully weigh the issues and vote based on that careful analysis and not succumb to emotion. Here's an opportunity to offer an educational lesson for the children, by example, of the need to differentiate between NEEDS and WANTS.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bricks OR Aides?

A recent report stated that the School District "is currently in excellent shape financially," and that the shortfall this year was covered "without individuals losing their jobs."

Perhaps it needs to be asked why 2/3's of the teacher's aides need to be fired for next year. It would seem that these employees are probably more important, and helpful to EDUCATION than, for example, a third gym.

A few suggestions, in no particular order, on how to save these positions (listed at $671,098 in the original 2009 budget, page 5 item 161):

  • The School District finally posted employee salaries on; the author of the District's press releases to the Wave is listed as the highest paid teacher in the District. He is also the official PR person for the District. Assuming that his extra $9,623 pay may be for his PR work, eliminating that job would save 1.5 aides.
  • In an earlier report the PR said that "The total cost for the reconfiguration (Grade realignment in schools) of the district will come to about $1 million," including high school upgrades. A later report stated "We authorized an additional $750,000 to be spent at the high school to finish the portion of the school that had been scheduled to be "shelled in" for future use. This includes four classrooms, the little theater and one practice gym." One could assume that the remaining $250K is being spent for the unpopular 5/6 and 7/8 school swap - There's enough for 40 aides.
  • Cutting three "Quality Teaching Days" (paid, but no teaching) would decrease the average $47,963 teacher salary (from salaries reported at by about $787 or $200K total enough for 30 more aides, who are there to help teachers in educating students.
  • Cutting one class day, according to the press release, would save about $250K (total operating cost $43 MILLION, up over 60% with an enrollment increase of 10% since 2005) or another 40 aides.

I have no idea of the cost of the third gym or little theater, but NOT building them now could save even more money to offset some of the other proposals.

I won't even ask why we need three assistant Superintendents and a business administrator at salaries over $100K, or multitudes of other administrators.

Reports are now being made that the reconfiguration will require more money for new buses and drivers.

Which is more important - Bricks and Mortar (gym) or teachers (and aides) in the classroom?

That question was answered here years ago in this blog. "By focusing on a extravagant oversized school/community center, we, necessarily, place our money where our collective mouth is. Apparently, we value the bricks more than the educators. Again, why not put less money in a new building and more in enticing and rewarding more quality teachers. Expending excessive taxpayer money on buildings will make it even more difficult to garner support for better salaries. It all emanates from the same taxpayers' pockets."

Friday, July 01, 2005

JUNE Wasatch News you may have missed

Orem hospital begins work to welcome even more mothersProvo Daily Herald - Provo,UT,USALindsee Cordova, a Heber City native, knew where she wanted to give birth to her first child. Ignoring hospitals in Heber and Provo ...

Another Brick at the WalSalt Lake City Weekly - UT,USA... Dicker also dives into the kind of "site fights" that made local headlines in towns from Sandy to Centerville to Heber City, and finds them to be a rare ...

American Capital Invests $55 Million in Add-On Acquisition for ...Yahoo News (press release) - USA... Founded in 1991, Heber City, UT-based Bear Creek is the second largest manufacturer and marketer of dry soups and soup bases in the US Bear Creek offers a ...

Scientific discoverySalt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... students represent 22 Utah schools, including Wasatch Junior High in Heber Valley and ... the American Association of University Women in Salt Lake City - which is ...

Decision by state on aging issues appealedProvo Daily Herald - Provo,UT,USA... He offered to organize a meeting between Utah County and Wasatch and Summit counties. Utah County hasn't requested the help yet. ...

Utah golfers speak out on favorites of gameSalt Lake City Deseret News - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... It's a little surprising with all the new courses that have been built over the past decade that Wasatch is still No. 1. Two Davis County courses, Valley View ...

The cowboy wayProvo Daily Herald - Provo,UT,USA... Two weekends ago, he worked with other UHSRA directors setting fences at the Wasatch County Fairgrounds in Heber City, getting ready for the state rodeo finals ...

Wilderness combed for boy, 11Salt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... Whether searchers find Brennan may depend on how far the boy wandered after getting lost, Wasatch County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said. "It's dicey. ...

E Heber thin skinusBenton Courier - Benton,AR,USA... Reading the state daily, it has been a continuing saga for the Heber City Council to decide on how to open a deer season on the critters running loose within ...

Science, technology scholarships awarded to two Utah graduatesSalt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake City,UT,USABlodgett recently graduated from Wasatch High School in Heber City, and Hopkins just earned his diploma from Waterford High School in Sandy. ...

Utah Summer Games open with 9,000 athletes on handSalt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... of Utahns for Utahns," said Gerald Sherratt, the mayor of Cedar City, as he ... She was there with the Heber Handspringers, one of 17 power tumbling and trampoline ...

Dining Out: Make Dad's day with a hearty breakfast or juicy steak ...Salt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... in Midway also offers an intimate setting and beautiful views of the Heber Valley ... desserts awaits Dad at Little America's Grand Ballroom in Salt Lake City (500 S ...

Defendant guilty in bludgeon murderSalt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake City,UT,USARobin Lance Kaaloa admits he destroyed evidence last summer by cleaning up his Salt Lake City apartment and dumping a body in Wasatch County following a bloody ... See all stories on this topic

Biker learns the hard waySalt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... Sherwin, now of Heber City, steadily has risen through the ranks of mountain biking from novice to the pro level. She is rated No. 10 in short track and No. ...
OFFICIALS TALK RAFTING RISK FACTORSAlbuquerque Journal (subscription) - Albuquerque,NM,USA... Police have said that Carol Whalen of Heber City, Utah, who drowned June 5 north of Embudo in the river's Race Course section when the commercial raft she was ...
Two Utah Students Awarded Prestigious Micron Scholarship -- Each ...Business Wire (press release) - San Francisco,CA,USAMicron will honor Blodgett of Wasatch High School (Heber City) and Hopkins of Waterford High School (Sandy) this summer during a leadership and mentoring week ...
US Open Notes: Miller still thrilled to be part of broadcastSalt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake City,UT,USA... the US Open from my bedroom in Charleston and nobody would know the difference," said Miller, who recently moved to that Heber Valley town from Salt Lake City. ...