Bus driver: Close school during Sundance | ParkRecord.com

Bus driver: Close school during Sundance

Douglas Greenwood, Of the Record Staff

Just weeks after the dust settled following the Sundance Film Festival, it was brought to the table at the Park City School District Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Feb. 15. During public comment, 24-year veteran school-bus-driver Sharon Lints said board members should consider closing Park City schools during the 10-day festival.

Lints referenced the closing of schools during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games as part of the basis for her comment. "I am here to entertain the same idea during Sundance," she said to members of the school board.

Lints said her routes weave throughout uptown and the traffic during the event makes traveling more difficult and dangerous for the students. She also said she has spoken with a number of other drivers who feel the same way about the temporary population-surge’s effect on traffic both in Old Town and along Kearns Boulevard.

"We’ve talked about it for years, but I don’t think any one has ever done anything about it," Lints said.

Park City resident David Chaplin, who was serving on the Park City School District Board of Education during the Olympics, said there is a marked difference between closing schools once in 2002 verses yearly for Sundance.

"One of the big considerations was the fact that we wanted our students to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have the Olympics in their own community," Chaplin said. "I don’t know that Sundance has quite the same impact on the school district as a whole."

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In 2002, about 1.5 million Olympic Event tickets were sold, according to Myles Rademan, who served as director of information for the Winter Games in Park City. The Sundance Institute estimated that more than 41,000 people came to Park City during the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, with about 25,000 coming from without Utah.

"I think it’s worth looking into, but I think it would impact so much more than school transportation," said Park City school board member Lisa Kirchenheiter. "It might solve the school bus-drivers’ problems, but it could cause more problems elsewhere," she added.

Lints said February recess, which ran from Feb. 21-25 this year, could be rescheduled during Sundance in order to keep roughly the same academic calendar. The 2011 festival spanned about eight school days.

Park City schools re-allocated two weeks of already-scheduled vacation-time from February and April to avoid lengthening the school year in 2002, according to Chaplin.

"It’s similar to a lot of the issues we dealt with when we closed schools for the Olympics," Kirchenheiter said. "We can look at the problem and see if there is an alternative rather than shutting the schools down."