Park City School District to provide master planning update at open houses
February 21, 2019
Movable furniture and flexible spaces — that is what teachers have asked for during discussions about future classrooms in the Park City School District.
What an ideal learning space consists of is one of the main topics hashed out over the last two months during district steering committee meetings and teacher forums. The next step in the district's master planning process is to gauge the public's opinion on the work done so far by the committees.
The district plans to host two community open houses to present a master planning update. The first is scheduled for Feb. 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Park City High School, and the second is set for Feb. 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ecker Hill Middle School.
Clio Raynor, project manager for the district's master planning consultant GSBS Architects, said the goal of the open houses is to show the public what has gone on behind the scenes since the last public meeting focused on master planning in October. Most committee and forum meetings since then have centered on learning spaces.
Raynor said teachers in the learning leader forum, a committee of educators involved in the master planning process, favor classrooms that are "actively engaging" and promote "cooperative learning."
Educators prefer movable furniture that allows them to change a room based on the activity. Plus, Raynor said, they want classrooms to feel more like makerspaces where students can separate into groups and work on hands-on projects. They want "a variety of spaces that can accommodate various types of learning," she said.
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Teachers have also discussed specifics such as how colorful the classrooms should be or how much information should be on the walls. The conclusions teachers have reached will be presented during the open houses.
The open houses will also touch on topics discussed by new task forces created by the district. The master planning steering committee, which was made up of about 20 district employees, parents and community members, was divided into six task forces last month to tackle issues such as transportation, class and school size, school locations and grade alignment. Other community members were included in the task forces.
The task forces range from five to 20 members.
"We've been trying to get a good amount of participation from a wide range of individuals — teachers, parents, community members, administration — on all of those task forces so we get a good cross-section of individuals," Raynor said.
The task forces were asked to develop criteria for evaluating and prioritizing their topics. Raynor said in order to make master plan recommendations, there will need to be compromises. She and the rest of the consulting team want to ensure issues that are critical to the community, whether about school locations or grade alignment, are not skipped over in the master plan.
The district's master planning process kicked off in September. From the start, the district has focused on creating an entirely new educational vision rather than worrying whether or not the district needs new school buildings. Members of the Park City Board of Education have stated the Board is taking this approach so it does not repeat mistakes that it believes led to a failed bond in 2015.
At the end of the master planning process in the spring, the district hopes to have ideas about how to best keep its classrooms and schools up to date for the next decade. The plan may include new or renovated schools.
Raynor said the open houses will allow the consulting firm to vet proposed ideas through the community to see if they agree with the task forces or not.
"It's important to have the community voice because when we develop a master plan and provide it to a community, it is for the community and it needs to reflect their values," she said.
Following the open houses, she said the consulting firm plans to walk through schools in the district. She hopes to talk with parents, teachers, staff and administrators about what they think will improve their schools.
The task forces and consulting firm will use feedback from the open houses and school tours to finalize recommendations about the task forces' established topics. She said they plan to present the findings to the community through a survey or another public meeting.
The consulting firm then plans to take those recommendations and pull in the research it has done about the district's current conditions. It hopes to present master plan options to the Park City Board of Education in April.
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