New Park City school board president chosen after resignation
Julie Eihausen voted in after Phil Kaplan steps down
The Park City Board of Education has a new president after an unexpected resignation from the role.
At a public meeting last week, Phil Kaplan stepped down from the presidency fewer than five months after being elected to the position by his fellow board members. Julie Eihausen, who had been serving as vice president, was chosen to replace Kaplan by a vote of 3-2, while J.J. Ehlers was selected as vice president for the second time in her tenure on the board.
In an interview, Kaplan, who was elected to his first full term on the board in November after joining it in 2015, said he resigned the position for personal reasons, but declined to elaborate. He stressed that, despite the move, he will remain on the school board for the long-term.
“You have to put the students of the district first,” he said. “So at the end of the day, if I felt I wasn’t able to serve 100 percent in the most time-demanding job on the board, and there’s a really capable vice president to hand it off to, it was really not that hard of a decision.”
Eihausen, in her third year on the school board, said her focus is on helping the board navigate a litany of initiatives that will shape the future of the district, such as grade realignment, changing school start times and an upcoming bond campaign that could ask residents for more than $100 million to fund critical new facilities.
“We are all equal members, and we all have the responsibility and the opportunity to guide the board,” she said. “The leadership position, in my perspective, is more an organizational-type position, being a contact person but not necessarily driving the direction of the board.”
Kaplan said Eihausen, who along with Ehlers is the longest-tenured board member, is the right person to fill that role.
“She has 20 years in the district in many different roles,” he said. “She’s a passionate advocate for student achievement.”
The move was not unanimous, however. Members Andrew Caplan and Petra Butler urged the board to wait until the next public meeting on May 2 to vote on the position to allow more time to consider who would best fill the vacancy. Both voted against Eihausen, with Butler going as far as nominating Caplan instead. Additionally, the pair abstained from voting for Ehlers as vice president.
Eihausen said the district’s legal counsel advised the board to replace Kaplan immediately.
“The transition seemed very logical,” she said. “Phil stepped down and I was vice president. Now I’ve become president, and the past vice president is now vice president. To me, it just seemed like it was a very fluid, natural way forward.”
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