When Park City School District Superintendent Ray Timothy took the reins of the Park City School District in June of 2007, it is unlikely he anticipated riding into the nation's worst recession since the 1930s. It would have been more reasonable to assume that he was looking forward to helping a prosperous, enlightened district in its efforts to stand out as one of the best in the country.
The district's focus, however, was sharply redirected in the wake of the economic downturn in September 2008. After years of watching tax revenues (including a voter-supported voted leeway to support local schools) grow, tax revenues sank and, with them, state funding was also sharply curtailed.
Fortunately for constituents of the Park City School District, their new superintendent had experience at almost every level in the school system from elementary school teacher to deputy superintendent of the Utah State Office of Education. And he used that experience to carefully guide Park City's students, teachers and taxpayers through an extremely difficult financial crisis.
Timothy recently announced that he is leaving his post next month. He is moving on to accept a position as the executive director of the Utah Education Network, which provides online services and technology training to schools around the state. He will be especially difficult to replace because, in addition to his administrative skills, Timothy brought a calm, professional demeanor to a district that has seen its share of contentious politics.
Most recently, Timothy's patience and expertise has been put to the test in the district's lengthy teacher salary negotiations, which are still ongoing. As in districts all over the country, tough choices must be made in order to balance shrinking budgets with rising expenses (like health benefits) and teachers' union entitlements. In Park City, Timothy can be credited with keeping all of the stakeholders at the table over the course of several rounds of these kinds of brutal negotiations.
School district issues, even at their most mundane, carry additional emotional freight because they impact our children. It takes a very special leader to chart a clear-eyed path through the economic challenges and political distractions while adhering to the community's high standards. Timothy has done exactly that and the school board which will undergo a transition after November's election will be hard pressed to find a person with same level of experience and integrity.