Utah’s public education funding system disparity continues to grow, according to the Utah Taxpayers Association’s 2017 School Spending Report. The School Spending Report details school district and charter school spending during the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
The report outlines spending per student of 41 school districts across the state, and the average charter school spending on different categories of school finance. The report also outlines the general tax rate and the assessed valuation per student for FY 2016.
The smallest school district by enrollment, Daggett School District with only 183 students in its system, spends nearly $20,000 per student, the highest amount spent in the state. In addition, Daggett also has the third lowest property tax rate in the state.
Jordan School District, on the opposite end of the spectrum and with roughly 51,000 more students than Daggett, spends $6,890 per student. The lowest per pupil spending in the state is Morgan School District, which spent $6,113 in FY 2016.
Park City School District property tax rates are half the average (0.002725) of the statewide rate (0.005480), and has an assessed valuation per student of more than $2.5 million, compared to the 41 district average assessed valuation per student of $618,081.
The difference between the highest per pupil spending and lowest in the state is $13,857. Meanwhile, the statewide average spending per student, including charter schools, is $8,331.
An important factor in understanding some of the disparity between school districts’ per-student spending is the local property tax rates applied to the property tax base in each district. School districts with high property values per student (such as Park City, Grand, and Daggett) generate significantly more revenue from the local property tax levy than school districts with low assessed valuation per student (such as Nebo and San Juan school districts).
It is also important to note the calculation of secondary homes when comparing per student property valuation. State law requires that owners of secondary homes (cabins, vacation timeshares, etc.), to be assessed at 100% of the property taxes of the value of home, as opposed to 55% for primary dwelling residences.
Park City School District, with high property values, receives 92% of its funding from local sources, whereas Piute School District with a low property tax base, is only able to provide 29% of its total revenue from local sources.
Your Taxpayers Association is working with the Legislature to address the inequitable funding by distributing the portion of the growth in income taxes for equalization of the local property taxes.
To view the 2017 School Spending Report, click here.