Superintendent holds community forum
September 17, 2013
Dr. Ember Conley, Superintendent of the Park City School District, met with members of the community at the Ecker Hill Middle School Library on Monday, Sept. 16. The forum was the first of several that Conley has planned for throughout the school year.
"The reason I am doing these forums is partly for my own knowledge; who am I serving and what do we need to do to keep moving forward?" said Conley.
Attendees were given blank index cards as they walked to their seats in the media center. Conley then stood by a projection screen as she flipped through her PowerPoint presentation on PCSD’s "mission, vision, values, goals and initiatives."
As Conley read aloud PCSD’s mission, she asked attendees to take their blank index cards and write down key words that stood out to them.
McPolin Elementary Principal Greg Proffit said that "maximize learning potential" made an impression on him while a PCSD mother said that "staff" stood out to her, saying that PCSD students’ potential and opportunities can only be as good as the staff.
They were all then asked to do the same thing as Conley read out PCSD’s vision. Jeremy Ranch Elementary Principal Shawn Kuennan said that "choice" made him think about how he wants PCSD students to have the no. 1 choice in school districts while another attendee expressed confusion about "district of choice."
A discussion arose and it was agreed that it means parents have the choice to send their children wherever they want, but PCSD should be so outstanding that they shouldn’t want to send their children anywhere else.
Conley then assembled all attendees into groups of six to discuss and present what they believed was going well in the district as well as what they felt needed improvement. They wrote down their answers on poster boards and presented them.
What community members felt was going well was the Dual-Immersion program, preparing children well for college, promotion of healthy food and lifestyle, one-to-one technology initiatives, extracurricular and after-school activities and programs and the extensive Advanced Placement class offerings at the high school.
"Two schools with Spanish dual-immersion and two schools with French dual-immersion which is equal at all schools, and that is something to be desired," said one attendee.
Community concerns were: class sizes were still too large, the curriculum is always changing, Dual-Immersion was not available to all students in PCSD, weak teachers are moved around the district rather than being removed from the system, there is still an achievement gap between the Caucasian and Hispanic populations, and that Hispanic involvement in the schools is still an issue.
"We need to reach out to them with our Parent Teacher Organizations and board representatives," said another attendee.
At the end of the forum, Conley asked attendees to leave their names and contact information along with their index cards and poster boards as research into what she and the district can do to become one of the top districts in the nation.
"I am taking all of your notes and basically doing a research project and needs assessment," said Conley. "At the end of this year, I want to look at our strategic district plan and see what we need to revise and then build a district learning plan."