At the school board meeting Tuesday, several items on the agenda had not only residents concerned but also Jim Fleming and Ed Mulick, co-presidents of the Park City Teachers Association. They feel that members of the community should be informed of the issues that two new board members will be making decisions about, so they are hosting a School Board Candidate Open Forum next week.
Budget discussions, a decision on the multi-purpose building on Kearns Boulevard and a decision regarding the Basin Recreation easement made for a lengthy and eventful meeting. During the Park City Education Association report at the beginning of the meeting, Fleming and Mulick voiced their concerns about the multi-purpose building that could be used as a home for the Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies.
"We feel like this may be a rushed decision that will be made somewhat prematurely," Fleming said at the podium. "We simply ask to allow this fledgling program to prove itself before spending millions of dollars to construct a building for it."
Fleming and Mulick feel strongly that there are many difficult decisions and important issues facing the school board, so next week's forum will allow school board candidates to introduce themselves to the public and answer any questions the community may have for them.
Mulick said they hosted a school board candidate open forum two years ago that was "very successful." This year, they are competing with end of the year events, including a high school band concert. If they can get about 50 attendees this year, Fleming and Mulick said, they can deem it successful.
The District 4 seat, currently held by Charles Cunningham, has only one candidate, J.J. Ehlers. Ehlers is running unopposed to represent Jeremy East, Jeremy West, Kimball Canyon, Moose Hollow and Upper and Lower Silvercreek.
The District 5 seat, however, is sought after by four candidates this year: Julie Eihausen, Edwin Lowsma, Julie Nirula and Doug Payne. Whoever is elected to replace current District 5 school board member and vice president Michael Boyle will represent Lower Pinebrook, Pinebrook North, Summit Park East, Summit Park West, Upper Pinebrook and Wagon Wheel.
"All five candidates have been contacted and told what the format is," Fleming said. "The idea is that they will be able to make an opening statement, our moderator Jenny McKenna will ask a couple of questions, and then we will throw it out to the audience so people can ask questions."
The forum will be held at the Ecker Hill Middle School auditorium at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 29. Mulick said it is important for the community to attend and ask future school board member hopefuls about the issues they feel are most important for their children.
"A school board member must have the children's best interest in mind," Mulick said. "So far, I think all these candidates have that."
Fleming's concern regarding school board elections is that with both current District 4 and 5 seat-holders choosing not to run for re-election, there will now be a shift in the dynamic of the school board with two new members starting in January.
He and Mulick said they hope whoever is elected makes the best decisions for both the students and the employees of the district.
Boyle said school board members receive a stipend of $6,000 a year, which compensates the members for attending meetings. He also said he hopes whoever replaces him will approach their seat at the table with an open mind.
"I hope they do not come with an agenda other than to improve the school system," he said. "The biggest thing is they have a really open mind and the ability to listen and weigh all factors and all sides of an issue before rendering judgment."
Mulick said school board elections may not even be a blip on most of the voters' radar, but it should be. "Investing in our children and their education is the most important thing we can do as a community," he said.
In order to ensure the students of PCSD receive the best education and opportunities available, Fleming said, community members are invited and encouraged to attend the community forum to ask candidates questions about the tough issues they will face should they be elected.
The School Board Candidate Open Forum will be held Thursday, May 29, at the Ecker Hill Middle School auditorium at 2465 Kilby Rd. at 6 p.m. For more information, contact Jim Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ed Mulick at email@example.com.