Board of Education seats open, but few contested in Summit County
Several seats on the Boards of Education throughout Summit County are open, but few people applied to challenge current members.
In the Park City School District Board of Education, three seats will be on the ballot in November but only one is being contested. Anne Peters from District 1 and Erin Grady, who was recently appointed to fill the vacancy left by Julie Eihausen in District 5, are the only candidates who filed for their respective races.
Vicky Fitlow and Kara Hendrickson filed for candidacy in District 4. They would replace outgoing J.J. Ehlers. The filing window to become a candidate closed last week.
Fitlow, who moved to Park City in 2000, sent her three children to Soaring Wings Montessori School and Weilenmann School of Discovery. Her oldest daughter will attend Treasure Mountain Junior High next school year.
She said that her children’s transition into the district is one of the reasons she is running, and she wants to represent her area’s constituents as the district decides its direction. The candidate elected to District 4 will join the Board in the wake of critical decisions in the coming months, such as the hiring of a new superintendent, an associate superintendent of teaching and learning and a principal of Park City High School. The school district is also expected to continue to grapple with issues like realignment and building improvements.
“It’s an exciting time for our district,” Fitlow said. “We have so much potential. I feel like we are on the cusp of the next chapter of Park City School District, and I want to be involved in that.”
She said that she will bring experience to the Board, since she has served on the Weilenmann School’s Board of Directors for a few years. She was chair during the 2016-17 school year and will soon step down.
While on Weilenmann’s Board, she said she learned to work in a group and ensure that the members were not overstepping boundaries. Proper board governance and oversight was one of the things Fitlow focused on, along with fiscal responsibility.
She also said that legal training has helped train her in process and procedures, which would benefit the Park City Board.
Hendrickson brings a different set of skills.
The recently retired school teacher taught for 30 years, for the last 16 at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School. She plans to stress the importance of listening to the voice of teachers and students in her campaign. She said teachers often feel left out of the decision-making process in the district, and she wants to listen to them and help them understand why decisions are made.
“They are the ones in the trenches working with the students and (the students) are our No. 1 goal,” she said.
As the Board hires new leaders and further develops its strategic and master plans, Hendrickson said that she will bring a teacher’s perspective.
She said that she will also bring an understanding of the schools, since her children attended the district’s schools from kindergarten through high school.
Grady, the newest member of the Board, said that she planned on running again when she was appointed last fall. She said that she, too, is excited to be involved in the changes that will be taking place in the district, such as master planning.
“Our children’s education and their future is very important. I have been in this community for a very long time and care deeply about it,” she said.
Peters, who was also appointed to the Board to fill a midterm vacancy, said that the Board is starting to gel and that she now understands the issues and can offer perspective and solutions. Plus, she said “maintaining consistency in the district is less disruptive.”
She also said that she enjoys working with the other members and would like to continue.
“The current board members are outstanding human beings,” she said. “Collectively we have such diverse backgrounds and all approach issues from our own perspective but work in a professional and collaborative manner.”
The North Summit School District Board of Education has two open seats and the incumbents filed for candidacy. Kevin Orgill from Upton filed for District 4 and Vern Williams from Wanship for District 5.
The South Summit School District Board of Education also has two open seats. Steven Hardman of Kamas and Hoyt Atkinson of Marion filed for candidacy for District 4 and Debra Blazzard and Stacy Maxfield, both from Kamas, filed for District 5. Hardman and Blazzard currently hold the seats.
As no more than two people filed for any of the open seats in Summit County, no primary elections will be held. The two contested races will be determined on Election Day in November.
“Focus on the data outcomes, on the academic achievement outcomes, on the rankings that we have. The school board is happy with the direction of the district,” said Andrew Caplan, school board president. “We can always do a better job, especially with things that aren’t our core expertise like building and land management.”
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