Park City group schools parents on Legislative session
Given the comparatively small size of the Park City School District, the only way local parents can make their voices heard on Capitol Hill is by banding together.
At least that’s the mindset of a new parent organization, PC Parent Voice, which is dedicated to ensuring local parents are informed about what bills will affect students during the Utah Legislative session, which began at the end of January.
"We just don’t have that many parents," said Ben Ling, a member who was designated to speak for the group, which doesn’t have assigned leadership. "So it seems like, in order for us to have any kind of influence at all, we’re going to have to speak with a somewhat unified voice. I understand that because of the size of our district we don’t have a lot of influence, but we have to have some sort of an organization so that we can have some influence. We just need to try to do what we can."
Ling said keeping tabs on the Legislature is difficult for most parents, who are juggling jobs and parenting, leaving little time for digging into the bills being debated on the Hill. That’s why the group uses the divide-and-conquer approach, which allows parents to tackle individual issues and report on the group’s Facebook page.
The group, which was formed a few months ago, also uses a Facebook page to post links to articles and other information to further ensure parents know what’s going on.
"It’s tremendously burdensome. It’s just so hard to keep track of the political process nowadays," Ling said. "We can spread out the workload so that a few of us can look at various legislation coming through and warn everybody else about it so we know when it’s time to contact our representatives."
Ling said not everyone in the group always agrees on the issues. But that’s not the important thing. What’s paramount is ensuring everyone has the information to take well-informed stands and get in touch with legislators to voice those opinions.
Issues the group has keyed on so far this Legislative session include: funding for technology programs and a potential income tax increase that was shot down in committee Monday. But as always in Park City, the big issue is funding equalization.
"Every year it seems like we hear the Legislature wants to equalize the school districts," Ling said. "To us, that means they’re going to take some of the property taxes we have taken upon ourselves to help fund our school district and spread it out. That’s a noble goal, but in the Park City School District — at least the parents I talk to — we feel like we’re already doing that. We feel like we’re already doing our fair share."
Ling said that even parents who don’t want to get involved in dissecting the issues should still consider joining PC Parent Voice.
"It’s not any kind of commitment," he said. "It’s a really easy thing for parents to do. If anybody is interested at all in the Park City School District, they should stay informed. And this is a really easy way to stay informed.
"The more parents we have informed, and the more parents we have who are willing to contact their legislators, the better."
For more information on PC Parent Voice, visit the group’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/PC-Parent-Voice/1514821515473162 . Those who don’t use Facebook can participate by e-mailing email@example.com .
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.