Salt Lake City School District (Utah)

Entity: 1089
Entity Type: School District


Creation of the district was authorized by the 1890 territorial free school law. Salt Lake City Mayor George M. Scott, acting as president ex-officio, organized the first Board of Education on July 19, 1890. Board members met in the City Hall. The board was organized to take over the twenty-two ward schools and establish a single public school system for Salt Lake City. The district adopted the following mission statement in 1991: "The Salt Lake City School District, as a catalyst for creating a new standard of excellence, will ensure high levels of student learning and performance in all schools and will prepare all students to pursue and celebrate lives of continuous learning and service in a diverse, global society."

Biography/History Notes

Salt Lake City School District provides public education for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade by preparing every student with the knowledge and skills needed for lifelong success in a changing world. Enrollment in city schools peaked in 1959 at 45,000 students. Today, the district serves a general population of 174,264 with 24,981 students enrolled in regular day school programs in the fall of 2000. The boundaries of the district are the same as those as the Salt Lake City limits and spread over an area of 110 square miles. The district has 37 school campuses: 28 elementary schools (grades K-6), five middle or intermediate schools (grades 7-8), three high schools (grades 9-12). In addition, the district operates several alternative programs--a community education department, adult education, an alternative high school and middle school, parent cooperative programs, programs for motivated students and for the handicapped, and other special services. The Salt Lake City School District provides a basic educational program at all schools that is designed to provide the skills and content that all students need. Some additional programs, such as character education and multicultural education, enhance the basic program for all students. The district recognizes the diversity among the student population and therefore provides a number of programs to meet these individual needs, e.g., special education, alternative language services, and extended learning.

The district is governed by a seven-member Board of Education of Salt Lake City, which is elected by the citizens of Salt Lake City in a general popular election. Board members elect a president and vice president at the time new members are sworn into office. The board appoints a superintendent and a business administrator (one of three assistant superintendents) whose duties and responsibilities are to some extent prescribed by Utah State statutes. The district is also subject to the general oversight of the Utah State Office of Education. This includes a budget approval process that is in compliance oriented and is more ministerial in nature than substantive.

The free school law enacted in 1890 provided for a board of education of ten members in cities of the first class. The legislation specified that the board should consist of the mayor and two trustees elected from each of the five municipal wards. The mayor was designated by law as ex-officio president of the board until 1892. The board was to elect a vice president and clerk. The size of the board was increased to twelve members (two from each municipal ward) in 1939 and reduced to seven members (one from each precinct) in 1971.

The district is legally autonomous. Since its inception, the school system was kept separate from all political elements in the community. The Salt Lake City Board of Education, with corporate control of the school system, was a distinct entity from the municipal authority. The legal name of the district is the Board of Education of Salt Lake City School District. In order to distinguish the district entity from the legislative body which governs the district, the name Salt Lake City School District is used to describe the district entity.

Salt Lake City School District is under the direction of the Board of Education, with day-to-day operations overseen by the Superintendent of Schools. The superintendent is assisted by an associate superintendent. An assistant superintendent, supported by department and area directors, directs Educational Services. Another assistant superintendent administers Human Resources while a third oversees Business Services. Principals report directly to the superintendent.

The district originally was organized into three administrative departments--instructional, building, and accounting. These operated somewhat independently until 1916 when a resolution of the board made the superintendent the chief executive officer of the board and gave to the superintendent general supervision under the board of education of the entire school system with oversight over the officers of all departments. The first kindergarten was established in 1905.


School education