Published: January 6, 2005
Utah is one of five states that have never had lawsuits filed against their school finance systems. The state pays for education through its Minimum School Program, a foundation formula that is based on legislatively determined “weighted pupil units,” or WPUs. Each unit receives $2,182 for the 2004-05 school year, which is provided through both state and local funds. Local districts must collect property taxes at a rate set by the legislature each year. For fiscal 2005, that “basic tax rate” is $.0018 for every dollar in assessed property value. If a district is able to raise more than its foundation entitlement through its local share, the state recaptures the excess aid for redistribution in the following year. Because of a dramatic drop in the basic tax rate, however, that process has not occurred since 1995. The amount of money each district receives is weighted for such factors as: teacher education and experience, administrative costs, necessarily existent small schools, special education, career and technology education, and grade level. Utah also has categorical programs that distribute state grants for transportation, special education, reading initiatives, class-size reduction, professional development, compensatory education, gifted-and-talented education, teacher retirement and benefits, technology, and capital outlays and debt service. The state has a total of 27 categorical programs, through which it provided almost $940 million to districts in fiscal 2004.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 72