1. Why did you choose to run for a seat on the Park City Board of Education and what qualifies you for that office?
I decided to run four years ago because I believe that providing a great education to our children is a major priority. We have a great history of providing a first-rate education in the District. I wanted to give back to the community and hopefully be a positive influence on the direction of future education in Park City.
I believe that I bring a solid background in both financial skills and management. These are skills that have served me well in my first term. Public school finance is very complicated, and I think it is important to be able to understand the challenges that are posed. I also have a passion for the children of Park City and I hope that is evident in the decisions that I have made the past four years.
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.
This is a very big issue and we are working very closely with our Administrators and teachers to really make sure that we all understand the challenge. It is very difficult to evaluate teachers without having multiple metrics in place. We have to account for a number of factors in this evaluation. Some of those issues are matters such as not having standardized tests in place for certain subjects. We also have to address socio-economic factors that affect the classroom.
The best way to handle this is to involve all the parties involved as we are currently doing in Park City. This is going to take time, but it is so important that we get this right.
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?
The negotiations are protracted as we have a number of important long term items being addressed. We are also in the process of creating the first multi-year contract, so again we want to be thorough and thoughtful. I am confident that we will come to an agreement that will be welcomed by all involved.
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?
I voted in favor of both the budget and the increase in taxes in order to insure the long-term sustainability of the District. I believe that this Board and our predecessors were acting in the best interest of our students and community. Even with the increase local taxpayers are individually paying less for education than in 2006. We are also still below the national average in per pupil funding while offering a first class education.
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?
I am personally in favor of Charter Schools that meet a specific need that a traditional public school cannot address. In the case of the proposed District Charter for winter athletes, we as a traditional school do not have the flexibility to offer the required schedule.
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?
I do not think that we have any programs that fall into either category at present. We are always focused on meeting the needs of ALL students to the best of our abilities. I think we have done a good job of balancing all those disparate needs, and we will continue to monitor their effectiveness moving forward.
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?
There is a definite need to provide this teaching in our schools. As with many other matters, we are not replacing the role of the parent but we are making the information available to all students.
8. Please differentiate your platform from that of your opponent.
Moe Hickey, an incumbent member of the current Park City Board of Education, is running unopposed.