Park City school leaders delve into master planning data
The Park City School District Board of Education held a retreat last week to discuss its next steps after sifting through community feedback surrounding last fall’s failed $56 million bond measure. Board member Phil Kaplan said he left with one overriding takeaway.
"What I will say is that we had a very strong feeling that this is not repackaging the (old) plan," he said. "This is taking the plan and taking the work and taking all the new information we have and basically finishing it. There was a feeling in the room that maybe we moved too hasty last year by going to bond, and we want to make sure we have community support as much as that’s possible."
Parts of the old plan that post-bond community surveys and focus groups revealed had broad support will likely remain. Kaplan said there was a consensus at the retreat that: Treasure Mountain Junior High should be demolished; Park City High School should be expanded so ninth-graders can join the campus; and Ecker Hill Middle School should house the seventh and eighth grades.
The major question that looms is where to put the sixth grade. Kaplan said the district’s four elementary school principals unanimously recommended building a new school for fifth- and sixth-graders. But feedback from residents has revealed support in multiple directions, including building a fifth elementary school that would allow students to remain in neighborhood schools through sixth grade.
"We need to most likely start a new process and get a lot of community input," Kaplan said.
As far as athletic facilities, the element of the bond measure that proved to be most controversial, the district at a board meeting last week voted to formally join the City Hall and the Snyderville Basin Recreation District master-planning process that is already underway.
The goal, Kaplan said, is to find a way to partner with Park City Municipal and the Snyderville Basin Recreation District to build facilities that meet the needs of all three entities.
Last fall’s bond measure included $12 million for athletic facilities that could have included a new fieldhouse and football field at the site of the would-be demolished Treasure Mountain Junior High. According to a telephone survey the district commissioned in the wake of the bond, only 4 percent of people who voted for the measure did so to "support athletics," while 12 percent of men who voted against it, and 9 percent of women, did so because they were opposed to the athletic changes.
Kaplan has previously said the Board shouldn’t consider moving Dozier Field this time around due to the idea’s unpopularity.
"Ideally, we can handle athletics through partnerships at least partially," Kaplan said. " Building to suit our needs will be part of the process. To the extent there are efficiencies that can be gained by combining our resources with those in the city and the county, then great — we’re all for it."
No matter what the Board chooses to do with both athletic and academic facilities, Kaplan said, the retreat revealed a preference for using more feedback and data to create a plan, then getting community support for that plan before making decisions about how to finance it. He added that there has been no talk of — and no support for — increasing the capital levy tax to fund the plan, an option that was discussed during the bond debate last fall.
"We’re really looking for a bottoms up-type process," he said, "where we have community input on what they want to see out of the planning process."
A Parkite who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 13 is giving scholarships and internships to three first-generation graduates from PCHS.