Park City School District to add three assistant principals at schools
The secondary schools in the Park City School District are about to get some more hands on deck. The Park City Board of Education voted to add additional assistant principals at Ecker Hill Middle School, Treasure Mountain Junior High and Park City High School last month.
The three new positions are being added because of requests from the principals at the schools, said Andrew Caplan, president of the Board. Due to a high student-to-administrator ratio and increasing demands that have been placed on principals, additional assistant principals are expected to alleviate the workload of current administrators to ensure that the schools runs better, he said. Ecker Hill and Treasure Mountain currently have one assistant principal and the high school has two.
The new administrators will have similar responsibilities to those that the current assistant principals have, said David Gomez, interim superintendent of the district. He gave a presentation at the Board meeting last month, which showed that there are currently 400 students per each administrator in the district. The state’s average ratio is 333.7-to-1 and the U.S. average is 230-to-1.
Gomez said in an interview after the meeting that when the ratios are lower, administrators can build relationships with students that help with the students’ “social, mental and academic” growth.
The administrators have had more items added to their plates in recent years. Gomez said in his presentation that at Treasure Mountain, for instance, the number of 504 plans that ensure accommodations for students with disabilities has increased from 26 in the 2013-14 school year to 60 during the 2017-18 school year. To meet student needs, administrators are involved in coordinating intervention teams, meeting with parents and guardians, and gathering and reevaluating data, among other things.
“All the time that used to be able to be spent on instructional leadership and the principals spending time with their teachers and being coaches and leaders for them from an instructional perspective is spent putting out fires and dealing with discipline and special education issues,” Caplan said.
Administrators must also be present at certain school activities, and with several programs and events taking place at the schools, principals and assistant principals are often spread thin, he said.
Caplan said that the cost to add the three assistant principals is expected to be about $400,000 this year. This comes after a decision was made from a previous Board two years ago to reduce administrative costs and funnel more money into classrooms.
Caplan said he believes that the decision backfired on the district. Even though the district is small, it has high community expectations and provides a large number of programs and services, he said. He said that administrators should be in place to focus on larger projects such as closing achievement gaps and creating equity for students so that teachers can focus on teaching.
The former proposed allotment of funds was for 35 percent of the budget to go to staff administrative positions and 65 percent to go to core instructional positions. Caplan said that, with the new positions, administrative staffing will be 37 percent of the budget, and 63 percent will be for core instructional positions.
The district is currently looking for individuals to fill the positions, which Gomez said the district hopes to do quickly. If teachers from within the district are hired to fill those roles, their positions will need to be filled as well.
The positions come amid a large turnover in the entire district, as a new superintendent, high school principal and interim principal at Ecker Hill Middle School start their roles this summer. Gomez said that the district is currently putting together a plan to create mentorships for all of the new administrative hires in order to help with their transitions.
Gomez said that he hopes the new assistant principal positions will allow teachers and other district employees more opportunities for growth within the district. Plus, he and Caplan said that by hiring more assistant principals, the district is preparing people who could become future principals.
“As a district, we want to grow our own talent and part of that is giving opportunities for our employees to do that,” Caplan said.
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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.