PCHS may close doors to open enrollment | ParkRecord.com

PCHS may close doors to open enrollment

The growth in enrollment in the Park City School District over the past several years has stretched the district’s resources, both financially and within classrooms, as some schools have been pushed near their maximum capacities.

One is Park City High School. As a result, the Park City Board of Education may soon vote to close it to open enrollment, meaning out-of-district students hoping to attend the school next year may no longer have that option.

District projections presented at the Nov. 18 school board meeting indicate Park City High School will eclipse its enrollment threshold during the 2015-2016 school year. statute, that is enough to close the school to open enrollment. Utah law allows students to attend any public school in the state that has the space to accommodate them.

However, the Park City Board of Education has the option of overruling the statute and voting to either close the school or to keep it open. Todd Hauber, the district’s business administrator, said the board could vote on the issue as early as its next public meeting on Dec. 9. He anticipated the issue to be on that agenda, though he said, "There’s not really much of a decision."

Closing PCHS to open enrollment means the school would no longer have to accept applications from out-of-district students hoping to attend — though it would retain the option to do so. Hauber said that would mean there would be no guarantee out-of-district students would be able to go to PCHS next year.

According to district policy, an out-of-district student must re-apply each time he or she transitions to a new school — such as students moving from Treasure Mountain Junior High to the high school — as well as when the school they’re currently attending exceeds "the school’s open enrollment threshold and is unable to maintain the district’s reduced class size." Hauber said policy dictates that current PCHS students would not have to re-apply next year, however, as they are already registered within the school.

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Hauber added that PCHS closing wouldn’t necessarily preclude out-of-district students from attending PCHS.

"Especially if they’ve been going to school here their whole school careers, that would be a situation we would want to review and see what’s happening," Hauber said. "I’m sure there will be some case-by-case reviews. I wouldn’t call it an absolute but it would be tough to get in. There won’t be any question that way."

Hauber said the high school currently has 16 out-of-district students, though there is no estimate for next year.

School board member Tania Knauer said it would be unfortunate if any out-of-district students were unable to attend PCHS if it becomes closed. But at the same time, she said, the district’s top priority must be to serve students who live within district boundaries, particularly because the taxes out-of-district families pay don’t come back to the Park City School District.

"In theory, for those who live in Park City, their taxes are increasing to pay for people who don’t pay taxes at all in the district," Knauer said, referencing the board’s September vote to increase property taxes to combat rising enrollment. "… If you don’t live in the Park City School District, but your kids come here, and our schools are closed, it is what it is. Do I feel bad about that? Yes. But on the other hand, when I look at the fact that our expenses are higher than our revenues, and we’re having to increase taxes, I have less sympathy."

Hauber added: "Our primary purpose is to serve the students that live within the district boundaries. So they will always be paramount."

The only other school within the district that is projected to be closed is Trailside Elementary School. Information about enrollment numbers can be found at pcschools.us.

Park City High School open enrollment status:

Enrollment threshold, based on maximum capacity: 1,113

Current enrollment, based on Oct. 1 count: 1,136

Projected enrollment for 2015-2016 school year: 1,138