BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — A 2 percent increase in per pupil funding was great news at the time it was passed by the state legislature this year.
For Davis School District, 2 percent means almost $9 million more in state funding.
But as district administrators work to prepare a budget for the 2014-15 school year, they are also working to prepare employees and the public for another year of financial belt-tightening.
Negotiations with Davis Education Association, which represents teachers, and the Davis Education Support Professionals, which represents staff, are underway.
A tentative agreement was reached on Wednesday morning, according to Don Paver, president of the DEA, and will now go to teachers for a vote.
A budget must be approved by the school board by July 1.
“Challenges” is a word heard often in a video address by Craig Carter, business administrator, on the district’s website, davis.k12.ut.us.
Sixth-grade classes with 36 students and sophomore English classes with 45 students are a few examples of those challenges, said Carter on the video.
Maintaining more than 100 facilities with 15 fewer people is another, he said.
If district staffing were the same as it was five years ago, there would be 174 additional teachers, said Chris Williams, community relations director, in quoting Carter.
“The challenge, of course, is that we are an entity that is personnel-based,” said Williams. “It makes it very challenging when we have to cut budgets, when there’s not a lot to go around.”
In the video, Carter said cost obligations this year include a $1.6 to $1.7 million increase in insurance. Losses from federal sequestration will have made a $900,000 impact on the district. In addition, 700 new students are anticipated for the new school year, and teachers for those students would take another $1.2 million.
Funding a 1 percent cost of living increase would cost $3 million, and funding steps and lanes advancements would cost $5.2 million.
The expectation after the legislature increased funding was that there would be money available for increases in salaries, said Carter in the video.
“If you talk about insurance and if you talk about retirement costs, that 2 percent increase that was talked about evaporates,” said Williams.
“We will continue to work and are optimistic that we can solve a lot of budget challenges with the help and cooperation of our associations,” said Carter.
“It has been a difficult, difficult negotiation season for us,” said the DEA’s Paver.
While the association has a great relationship with the district, he said, negotiations were complicated because state funding is still inadequate.
“We are so appreciative of the 2 percent increase,” he said. “That went a long way to satisfy some of the financials needs that we have in our school district, but it’s just not enough. We feel they could do more to help education.”
Parents and patrons need to know the No. 1 issue for teachers is giving children the best education possible, said Paver, but the economic situation has had an impact on teacher morale.
“It’s overwhelming for educators,” he said. “It really is.”