Guest editorial: Park City School District plans for its future
January 23, 2015
Park City prides itself on our excellent education system. Right now, our school district is faced with the challenge of maintaining excellence by accommodating growth with a well-planned and reasonable commitment of public funds. The Park Record has referenced reports to the School Board by the Master Planning Committee, and there has been a lot of talk about what may or may not happen as a result of the work the Committee is doing. The purpose of this letter is to clarify what has happened to date, and to outline the process that will be taking place in the coming months.
In August of 2014, the School Board elected to form a Master Planning Committee made up of PCSD officials and local community members. This committee was tasked with determining the current and future facilities and infrastructure needs facing the PCSD over the next 15-20 years. The Committee first met on October 9th and we have been steadily meeting since that time. We have spent the past several months reviewing a series of studies and reports compiled over the past five years, both from within the PCSD staff and from paid outside consultants. We have done in-depth analysis and discussion of the information, conclusions, and recommendations from those studies.
The outcome of that analysis was a list of district priorities, and at the top of the list is addressing Treasure Mountain Junior High School. When TMJH was originally built in 1982, there were immediate complaints regarding the quality of the construction and the systems installed within it. While we cannot undo the mistakes made 35 years ago, we can make reasonable and rational decisions to address those issues as we move forward. Every report and study has indicated that the building is no longer functioning properly, and virtually every operating system within the school is substandard and in need of significant upgrading. The Committee researched renovating the school building, and the findings indicated it would cost upwards of $23 million dollars just to bring it up to acceptable standards, which wouldn’t even provide additional space for students. This cost certainly rivals that of a completely new building, not to mention that ongoing maintenance costs would continue to mount as the building deteriorates. In short, the structure has passed its useful life and its ability to function effectively as an academic institution.
We know there may be structural additions or new structures that need to be considered and planned for. However, it would be short-sighted to commit public funds on a new building without also examining our programming needs, including the advantages of realigning the grades that are served by each building. The committee is evaluating the pros and cons of grade realignment, including the impact on academics, extracurricular activities, social/developmental needs, and facilities. Given the large scope of work before us, we thought it wise to engage a Facilities Planner to help us with a long range District Master Plan, as well as an architect to design whatever new facilities are deemed necessary.
We know that stakeholder input will be crucial. Park City Municipal, Summit County, UDOT, and many other community stakeholders have been engaged, and we will also seek input from the general public. Once our consultants are engaged, a series of public workshops will be held to gather input from the community. Until then, community members are encouraged to participate by providing any questions or comments in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given the time spans involved, it is very important that we do this right. We want to be responsible with the public’s money and with the education of our children, and if we are to build new facilities, we really only have one chance to do this well. We thank you for all of the comments we have received thus far, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue.
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