New Park City school board members sworn in
January 13, 2015
Julie Eihausen and J.J. Ehlers stood in front of an American flag and recited an oath they’d waited a long time to repeat. And like that, the Park City Board of Education had two new members.
Eihausen and Ehlers were sworn into the school board in a public meeting Jan. 6. Ehlers said it had been a long time coming. The wait between filing for candidacy in the early months of 2014 until finally joining the board had been filled with anxiety and excitement. But that wait was over.
"It was exciting and a relief and, ‘Oh my gosh, I really did this,’" Ehlers said. "It just kind of hit me that it’s finally here."
The pair have been thrown right into the fire. With important issues such as next year’s budget and teacher salary negotiations on the horizon, Eihausen and Ehlers are forced to get up to speed quickly. Ehlers said the fact she and Eihausen regularly attended board meetings and followed the key issues before joining the board makes the process much easier.
"I feel like because both of us have been attending board meetings and trying to understand what’s going on, asking questions of different board members, that it’s probably more seamless than if we just walked in without knowing what was going on," she said. "At the same time, I think there’s always a little bit of, ‘Oh, wow. I hadn’t realized that. I hadn’t asked that question yet.’ I’m sure that’s going to come up."
Eihausen said the amount of reading and preparation asked of the new board members has kept her busy.
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"There’s a lot of training," she said. "From what I hear, January is relatively time-consuming, but it should be settling down in February. Once we get through with the training, I think we’ll get into a rhythm."
Both Ehlers and Eihausen said they are looking forward to digging into the issues. Eihausen ran on the platform of reining in the district’s budget and in the Jan. 6 board meeting already was asking for information on the spending of district programs.
"I would love to be able to see what money we’re spending in what areas and what outcomes we’re getting for the investment," she said. "That is my No. 1 priority."
Despite having just joined the board, Ehlers said her sense is she and Eihausen fit in well with the other members, who seem open to new voices and differing opinions. That will make diving into the issues a much cleaner process.
"There’s some different viewpoints on the board, and I think that’s a good thing," Ehlers said. "We’ll bring different angles and look at things in different views. We may agree and we may disagree, but I think we’ll do it for what is best for the children and for the district."