1. Why did you choose to run for a seat on the Park City Board of Education and what qualifies you for that office?
My children have attended school in PCSD since 2001, I am familiar with the district from kindergarten through high school. I've participated in every level in the district, from helping in the classroom to district committees. I have an MBA and a BS in Finance so I understand numbers, but I have also been involved with many programs impacting the schools. Seven years on school CCs has given me experience with boards, district policy as well as the Utah Land Trust. I am familiar with what is going on in education at the Capitol and the USOE. Below is a list of my education related background:
PCSD School Community Councils, 7 years
PCSD Teacher Assessment Committee
PCSD Science Fairs, 6 years
PCSD GATE Committee
PCSD Re-alignment Committee
PCEF Program Assessment, 3 years
McPolin, Ecker, Treasure and PCHS PTO member
Treasure Mountain Reality Town Co-organizer
Utahns for Public Schools, Executive Board
Park Record Bee Founder/Organizer, 6 years
U of U, MBA Business Career Services Coach, 2 years
Park City Stands Together Against Bullying
I've obtained a wealth of knowledge over the last 11 years and am willing to serve on the school board to further improve public education in Park City.
2. There are efforts on both state and national levels to tie teacher salaries to student performance. Many teachers unions, however, oppose that move, saying it is too subjective and that student progress is often dependent on variables that are beyond educators' control. How should Park City handle this controversial issue?
Tying salary to student progress is a foregone conclusion, but we need to make sure we implement a fair system. Teacher assessments need to use a variety of tools; classroom observation, peer reviews, student and parent input along with student progress data.
We can't determine student progress until we have an effective test. Passage rates of AP tests and ACT/SAT scores may be useful for assessing some high school teachers, but the CRT is used only in Utah and is not an accurate indicator of student growth. Utah recently pulled out of the group of states creating a nationally normed test aligned to the Common Core. We need to figure out what test we are going to use.
Data, is not subjective - it's making sure you are using effective tests and accurate data. Using a variety of tools increases the objectivity of an assessment, the current method is more subjective.
3. Park City School District administrators and the Park City Education Association (the local branch of the national teachers union) have been involved in protracted negotiations about health benefits, salary increases, staffing cuts, class sizes and other budget-driven issues. Do you have any new perspectives or proposals that you think will help resolve those negotiations?
Health care costs have sky-rocketed over the last 5 years. If the district is going to manage their finances, health care costs cannot be a variable number. The district and PCEA need to collaborate on managing and budgeting health care costs while still providing an acceptable level of service. There needs to some give and take to go along with the reality of today's health care costs.
Teacher compensation is based on seniority and education levels. Many districts across the country are re-evaluating this model. Since SB64 will change teacher compensation by linking pay to performance, the PCSD compensation committee should reconvene and start this conversation. How to best address salary increases needs to be discussed with all stakeholders at the table.
Staffing cuts and class sizes go hand in hand. Before we have a reduction in the teacher staff, we need to see the impact on class sizes.
4. This year, the Park City School District said it needed to cut approximately $4 million from expenses in order to balance its budget. The school board also recently voted to increase local property taxes to help close the funding gap. Could the cuts and tax increase have been avoided with better management or were they an inevitable result of the downturn in the economy?
The school board's increase in local taxes is going to the raining day fund, we've let teachers go and class sizes seem to have increased. The district was tasked with coming up with $5M in cuts, they came up with $2M.
While most entities scaled back their expenditures over the last 3-4 years, PCSD only started to look at cost cutting this year when they could no longer use monies from capital or the raining day fund. Downturns in the economy are a reality and any well-managed organization re-evaluates its budget when times are lean. PCSD needs a 3-year operating budget and a more effective yearly review process.
If it's not in the budget, then either something needs to be eliminated or we need to bring in additional revenue. We need to evaluate data on every program and review all personnel, there should be no sacred cows.
5. Charter schools can have both positive and negative effects on a school district. There is currently one charter school operating in the Park City School District and another is being considered. Would you be likely to support or oppose forming another charter school in Park City and why?
Not every student fits into the traditional public school box, so having a charter school available for families with different needs is a good thing. Charter schools don't need to be in competition with the local public schools, they should be another option in the community.
Charter schools can also serve the function of piloting a particular need of the community - STEM, arts and music, year round, etc. If the local public school and charter school work together, successful pilots in a charter school can be implemented on a larger scale in the local public schools.
As for a new charter school in Park City, it's difficult to say if I would support or oppose it without more information on its focus, who is starting it, etc. I'd like to think that PCSD could work hand-in-hand with a new charter school.
6. With tighter budgets, school districts are forced to prioritize programs for students. They must divvy funding between efforts targeted at both gifted and struggling students, between advanced placement opportunities and special education, between arts classes, physical education programs and the core curriculum. Are there specific programs in the district that you feel are currently overfunded or underfunded?
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is underfunded in the district. The top 15 college degrees for a student to find a job and earn a living wage are STEM related. Companies nationwide are not able to find students with the necessary skills - energy, biotech, programming, engineering, etc. We need to make sure our graduates are college or career ready. We have a great high school science program, but we need to add computer programming, engineering and project-related classes that build a bridge for our students to the working world. We need to re-evaluate our K-8 science offering, we are losing many young students that might go into the sciences because our elementary curriculum is inconsistent, some teachers are great at including science and some are not.
Overfunded programs- we spend a lot of time evaluating programs subjectively when we should be looking at them objectively using data.
7. The Utah Legislature recently tried to pass a bill that would have further limited what individual school districts could teach about human sexuality, specifically the law would have banned school districts from addressing contraceptives. The governor vetoed the bill, but the issue is likely to return next January. Where do you stand on teaching human sexuality in the schools?
We are in the business of educating children and giving them the tools to survive in the adult world, this includes a comprehensive sex education. Abstinence only programs have not shown to be effective in protecting our children from STDs, unwanted pregnancies or not engaging in sexual activity. Studies on comprehensive sex education have shown to delay the onset of sexual activity by 40%, reduce the frequency of sexual activity by 30%, increase contraceptive protection by 60% and reduce the number of sexual partners. Girls educated on contraception are 50% less likely to get pregnant than those in abstinence-only programs. Over 40% of teenagers between 15-19 have had sex at least once, putting our head in the sand will harm them. Arming our students with knowledge is a no-brainer, especially when they are in middle or high school when parents can participate in these conversations before they leave home.
8. Please differentiate your platform from that of your opponent.
I have been involved in efforts to improve STEM in the district for over six years. I helped start the McPolin science fair, and working with a group of parents and educators created the district fair that feeds into the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair (SLVSEF). Last year over 800 PCSD students competed in a science fair, over 250 in the PC district fair, over 100 went to SLVSEF and 28 received awards.
I've been following education legislation for the last five years. I have endorsements from many legislators and Equality Utah. I worked on the voucher referendum and more recently on overturning HB363, the "No-Sex Ed" bill.
Comprehensive district knowledge - I'm familiar with most programs in the district. I won't need much time to come up to speed.
Strong background in program management, process improvement and finance - I have an MBA and have spent 15 years in the corporate world doing financial analysis, project management and strategic planning; skills needed on the board.
My mother was a public school teacher for 40 years, education is in my blood. I believe public education is the foundation for our future and every child in this country deserves a quality education.