The Park City Education Foundation's annual Running with Ed fundraiser relay is this weekend, and the Ed Foundation's events, marketing and communications manager Jennifer Billow said team fundraising has already collected $40,000. That money, as well as entry fees, will be earmarked for next year's school site grants.

This year's grants were announced last week, and the money used to fund the grants was supplied by last year's Running with Ed fundraiser. The relay raised $135,000 of the $165,000 total that was awarded to several different programs throughout the district.

"Last year was the closest we ever came between raising money and actually covering the costs," Billow said. "So we would love to see more than enough, so that can also help fund teacher or district grants."

School site grants this year include several at Ecker Hill Middle School, such as Smart Music Software and a Dual Language Social Studies instructor for the first class of Dual Language Immersion students five years ago. They will be entering sixth-grade at Ecker Hill, and Billow said the Dual Language Immersion Committee and the district are still figuring out what the program will look like in middle school.

The Smart Music software benefits the music program at the middle school. While students in the district have music teachers at each of the elementary schools and get to play small instruments like recorders and ukuleles, the first time they are able to learn string or band instruments is at the middle school.


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The software helps with that, Billow said.

Last year's controversial Author-In-Residence at Park City High School was Sherman Alexie, and the book chosen for students to read was "The Aboslutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." The author's comments during his visit to the school and his book raised concern among parents.

"The high school picks the author, and it gets vetted by the English department and the Novels Committee before it gets passed," Billow said.

This year, the Ed Foundation has funded the high school to bring author Rayna Grande to Park City. Billow said they are excited to bring in an author that appeals to a broad population and hope to get the Latino population even more involved in the program since Grande is a Hispanic author.

The high school also received more funding for their robotics program, which produced state competition finalists this year. That success is why $10,000 was also granted to the high school's National Competition Fund, which helps send high school competitive clubs to national events. In fact, the high school clubs performed so well this year that the $10,000 ran out before the end of the school year.

"We never know each year how far or how short that money is going to go, so some years we have a little bit left over and other years, like this year, we run out," Billow said. "My understanding is that the school board is looking to put aside some funding for that, so hopefully together, that will cover more of the costs. The students are doing so well."

Treasure Mountain Junior High School turned a teacher grant project into a school-site grant project. "Shakespeare in the Schools" was originally requested by junior high school teacher Mark Parker, and it is a program that brings the Utah Shakespeare Festival to the school to teach workshops for the students that want to take acting classes as well as put on a performance for the entire school at the Eccles Center.

"The teacher grants are supposed to be innovative, so after you do one year, you usually don't get the same funding for the same thing again," Billow said. "[Parker] made it into a site grant. It does cover the whole school, because every kid has to take English. We love that one."

An issue most parents were concerned about at Park City School District Superintendent Ember Conley's last community forum regarding the new District Learning Plan was the science program at the middle school and junior high, but the Ed Foundation didn't actually fund any Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, programs at either school this year. 

Billow said that is because the district is looking at the STEM curriculum, so before the Ed Foundation funds additional programs, they first have to be able to make sure they are in line with what the district comes up with for the STEM program.

The Running with Ed relay fundraiser will take place Saturday, May 17, at the Basin Rec Fieldhouse at Newpark at 8 a.m. Billow is hoping the PCEF is able to raise even more than they did last year for next year's school-site grants.

"The team fundraising right now is at $40,000, and two years ago, that was all we made in team fundraising," Billow said. "Now we're already there, and the last week is always the biggest week. So we're really excited about how much we can raise this year."