As the Legislative session ended last week you may have heard about a 1.16% increase in the WPU. The WPUrepresents the Weighted Pupil Unit. The WPU is distributed to districts based on the student enrollment for that particular year; normally referred to as the October 1 count. The WPU was started by the Utah State Office of Education in 1973. At that time, the WPU value for each student was $508; the WPU for 2011 was $2,816. The WPUhas multiple sections one is called the regular WPU, this relates to the regular education students receive. The amount will increase next year .92% from $2,816 to $2,842 for each student. The WPU also has a CTE (Career and Technical Education) section and Special Education add-ons which had a 1.16% increase from $2,577 to $2,607 for these particular students. The State Office of Education indicated that the increase in the WPU will struggle to cover the increased costs in Social Security and Retirement next year. So, at face value it is perceived there will be more money for education, but the reality is very little, if any, will ever reach students in the classroom. You may have also heard about the new funding for enrollment growth. The State will allocate $40,997,200 to enrollment growth next year; unfortunately for Garfield School District, we will probably not see any of this particular money. The reason for this is because we have very little growth in student populations in the District. In 2001, the District had 1,052 students enrolled in the public education system; in 2011 we had 927 students enrolled. As you can see, funding growth does not help Garfield School District; the winners in funding growth are districts like Uinta, Alpine and Nebo because they are experiencing the most student growth at this time. To add a positive note to the Legislative session, Garfield School District will receive an increase in NESS (Necessarily Existing Small School) money next year. This is ongoing funding from the State of Utah to help Necessarily Existing Small Schools in the State. All of the schools in the District receive additional NESS funding except Panguitch Elementary. The Legislature approved approximately $3,500,000 in additional funding for NESS schools in the State. We do not have the final numbers on what this increase will be, but we are projecting it to be somewhere in the $200,000 range in new funding for next year. We would not have received this money if it was not for our local Legislators working to add the additional money to the NESS funding line. When you see your local representative will you please tell them thank you for helping with NESS funding?
As an update on staffing changes in the District, I have given three teachers in the District a formal notice of no expectation of continued employment for the upcoming school year. Two teachers were notified at PanguitchElementary and one teacher at Boulder Elementary. These teachers were not released for cause; they are all provisional teachers. This means they have not received tenure in the District and have been working in the District less than three years. We are currently planning to fill the positions with our current faculty, but this is subject to change if teachers retire before school starts next year. An additional note, we will have an elementary school in Boulder next year.
–Superintendent Ben Dalton