Attendance slim at Park City School District’s master planning open house
About a dozen parents trickled into Ecker Hill Middle School last week for the Park City School District’s open house. They wandered between posters presenting the work done by the district’s master planning task forces and spoke with members of a consulting firm as representatives of the firm puzzled over why there were not more people in attendance.
The event was one of two open houses hosted by the district in conjunction with its master planning consulting firm, GSBS Architects. The purpose of the open houses was to show the community what the firm and those involved in the master planning process have done over the last few months, but attendance was relatively low compared to the master planning kick-off meetings in October. Initial meetings attracted more than 100 parents, teachers and community members.
Those who attended the open houses were able to weigh in on important topics such as school locations and the future use of Treasure Mountain Junior High. Posters displayed the key issues and information about what the task forces decided were ideal criteria for each of the issues.
For example, the task force that evaluated the Kearns campus decided that the campus should “ensure safe and efficient traffic patterns” and “maintain a community-centered campus atmosphere.”
Open house attendees were able to leave comments about the task force’s criteria. Near the information about the Kearns campus, members of the public wrote “consider two high schools” and “what percentage of the area should be open space?”
Christine Richman, who works with GSBS Architects, said she was glad to see people leaving their opinions about the future of the school district. She said her firm and the district have stressed community involvement from the start of the master planning process because they want to make sure the master plan has community support.
Now that the firm has criteria from the task forces and feedback from the community, it will start putting together options for master plan proposals for residents and the Park City Board of Education to review in April. The firm is continuing to gather community feedback by visiting all the schools in the district and doing what they call a listening tour. Parents and teachers from the schools will talk with the consulting firm about what they like or don’t like about their school.
Richman said some contradictory ideas about the future of the district have emerged, as she expected they would. She said parents and teachers are in favor of small class sizes and geographic proximity to the school population, but both of those options will require a lot of money to put in place.
Once the firm starts putting price tags on the options, the community’s opinions will likely change, she said.
Stephen Fox, a parent of four who attended the open house at Ecker Hill, said he appreciates all of the data the firm has gathered so far. He said it makes it easier for people like him to weigh in on issues. He is in favor of experiential and outdoor learning, which was something that teachers and parents involved in the process have stressed since the beginning of master planning.
The arsenic-and-lead-containing soil has been a contentious issue for the district, which piled it onto the junior high campus in actions that were later discovered to be in violation of a covenant with the Environmental Protection Agency.
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