Midyear Budget Cuts
A $50 MILLION MIDYEAR BUDGET CUT
While many people have likely heard something about this, we understand there’s lots of info being shared and it is hard to know what is fact, fiction, speculation, and rumor. So here is a recap starting back to the district’s relationship with My Tech High, the online education vendor we had partnered with.
In 2017, Tooele County School District entered into a partnership with My Tech High. The collaboration aimed to offer students innovative learning opportunities, embracing the evolving landscape of education in the digital age. However, as this partnership unfolded, challenges emerged, prompting a careful evaluation of its overall impact on the district's educational goals. Following recommendations by district administration, TCSD board of directors agreed to not renew the contract with My Tech High. The agreement was set to renew for the 2023/2024 school year if we didn’t inform the vendor by January 15, 2023, so that is what we did.
Following this decision, the district continued to adhere to the state's own approved budget process, a routine practice that districts have followed for years. As per Utah State Code, school funding relies on a combination of prior year enrollment numbers and the current year’s growth. The state provided TCSD with estimated budget numbers in April of 2023 which the district used to build its budget for the 2023/2024 school year. That budget was presented at the budget hearing in June and approved in August by the state following the required Truth in Taxation hearing. In fact, the state allocated the funds based on those numbers beginning in July of 2023. These numbers were used to negotiate salaries, hire positions, and purchase other necessary items.
On November 28, the district was notified of an unprecedented midyear budget cut of $50 million. The cut was retroactively reflected on the monthly allotment just two days later. This sudden development, occurring midway through the school year, posed an immediate and significant challenge. The district, despite acknowledging the state's desire to clarify the code, emphasized the negative impact of retroactive implementation, limiting its ability to plan and manage effectively. The budget numbers provided by the state in April, distributed in July, and approved by the state in August were suddenly cut by 25% in the middle of the school year.
In exploring the broader landscape, the district noted inconsistencies in how other districts not renewing with the My Tech High, were treated differently. When districts ended agreements with online vendors resulted in enrollment declines the full funding remained intact. In fact, when Tooele County School District acquired the students leaving Provo School District, Provo received the full funding on those students that TCSD is being retroactively denied.
Faced with these challenges, Tooele County School District asks for open and constructive dialogue. Engaging with local legislators and Executive Appropriations Committee leadership, the district seeks to address concerns, seek clarity on the decision-making process, and advocate for the funding initially approved by the state.
Recognizing the importance of community involvement, the district encourages parents and community members to stay informed, ask questions, and actively participate in the ongoing discussions. A united front amplifies the voice seeking fairness and equity.
As we navigate these unprecedented challenges, the focus remains on ensuring the best possible educational outcomes for our students. Looking ahead, collaborative efforts and a commitment to constructive dialogue are essential for finding equitable solutions.
To stay informed on the latest developments, we encourage you to visit this page frequently and follow us on social media, where we'll provide updates, resources, and avenues for engagement. Together, as a community, we can work towards resolving these challenges and ensuring a quality education for Tooele County students.