Adair retires after two board terms
Kathryn Adair just brought to a close her second term on the Park City Board of Education. After eight years of service, she has decided to step down and spend more time pursuing other interests. She attended her last board meeting on Dec. 5, and afterwards reflected on accomplishments, challenges, and on the future.
Adair, who was elected to represent District 5, including Olympic Park, Lower Pinebrook/Ranch Estates, Timberline, and Summit Park, yielded her board position to Charles Cunningham, who was elected in November.
As the board meeting began, board president David Chaplin diverted the board agenda to thank Adair for her contributions to the district. He presented "with warm thoughts," a real apple to Adair, traditionally given to people leaving the district after extended service.
"I worked damn hard for this," she said, drawing laughs and applause.
Board members spoke of their reluctance to see Adair go.
"I really appreciate her insight and dedication," said Vern Christensen. I can’t tell you how many conversations we have had over the issues during the last several years, figuring how we could best serve and help all the students in the school district. Kathryn has held them in the center of her thoughts, and we appreciate that."
Lisa Kirchenhetier spoke. "Kathryn, as a parent and as a colleague, I’ve always appreciated how very cutting and how very fair your questions have been. Your courage has inspired me. You will always be in this room with us with your information for decisions. Thank you for your service."
Kim Carson added, "I agree with what Lisa said. We’ll always have you on our shoulder. I consider you a mentor. I appreciate your dedication, and we’ll miss you."
Chaplin said, "One thing I’ve learned from Kathryn, there is always another way to look at things. And I appreciate that. You are a very, very dedicated person."
Acting Superintendent Tom Van Gorder said, "I have always appreciated how you have stuck up for the little guy.’
Adair responded. "I appreciate all your kind words, I really appreciate I didn’t hear the word curmudgeon. I can’t say I’m going to miss board meetings, and I’m definitely not going to miss 11 p.m. information sharing, but I will miss all of you."
Although Adair has decided to leave her district seat "to a fresh set of eyes," she has no plans to leave Park City, the town she loves.
Adair, and her husband Steve Mersereau, moved to Park City in 1994. They became enamored of the town during visits to her parents.
Adair has 20 years of executive and managerial experience in managed health care and education. She said health care and education have tremendous similarities. Both are all about the people in the system. Whether it be a sick child in health-care facility, or a student in need of help preparing for college, outcomes are extremely important to the people involved and their families.
But Adair said both education and health care have very limited funding, and both are highly regulated by government agencies. "Your hands are tied in what you can do."
Adair ran for the school board when she felt she could help the district with her background and experience.
She found the election process "a necessary hurdle you have to get through." The second election was easier, as she ran unopposed. "I would definitely recommend that," she said. "It’s much less stressful."
Adair looked back on her years with the school board. She spoke of the thrill of 2002 Olympics. "We worked hard to tie the spirit of the Olympics into the school district." Students came together with Olympic Legacy projects, some of which were permanently incorporated into the schools. The district also helped students and their families get tickets to available venues. "We were given a tremendous number of tickets, and we were able to divvy them out," she said.
And there were other major accomplishments. "We remodeled every school, and we built Trailside," she said. One accomplishment she is especially proud of was the realignment of schools to reduce overcrowding in Park City High School, rearranging PCHS to grades 10-12, Treasure Mountain International Middle School to grades 8-9, and Ecker Hill International Middle School to grades 6-7. "This was a huge change, affecting families and teachers throughout the district. The process took several years, but the execution had to happen overnight. This was a huge feather in the cap of all involved," she said.
Adair said she was pleased that the board was able to emphasize students at all levels and interests by adding focus on special education and on gifted-and-talented students.
Adair spoke of her longtime concerns about ending up with a shortfall in the school district budget. "I was viewed as a curmudgeon. My 8-year-long concern has come to fruition," she said. "I’m chagrinned my forecast came to pass as it came time to leave."
"This district has very high expectations and incredibly high standards, Adair said, but warned change will be necessary. "We cannot continue to have business as usual."
Adair expressed frustrations with the funding of schools. "There is a tremendous amount of activity with lobbying, but we realize the legislature has a fixed pie, and the head of every organization wants a piece of that pie," she said.
Never the less, she has great hopes and expectations for the district. "We have a tremendous school district. The staff is bar none. The parents are so involved," she said. "We have a very strong infrastructure of caring dedicated people who will help us through this.
Adair is looking ahead and plans to continue her consulting for small businesses and teaching college-level business courses. She also teaches water aerobics and loves to ski. But more than anything, she wants to spend more time enjoying her family and friends in the town she loves.
"I love Park City and never plan to leave."
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