PCSD Board of Education readies next step after bond defeat
For much of the past two months, members of the Park City Board of Education spent the bulk of their time speaking to the community, providing information on the $56 million bond measure it had put on the Election Day ballot. They worked hard trying to ensure residents understood why they thought it was the best plan for students.
So when the measure failed last Tuesday by a wide margin, Board president Tania Knauer encouraged the other members to take a step back and clear their heads.
"We’ve been sort of silent over the last week," Knauer said Monday. "And I’ve asked each Board member to sort of individually reflect on the outcome and some of the lessons learned. The Board members did put some considerable energy into this over the last two months, so it’s good to sort of decompress a little bit and put your thoughts together."
Now, the Board members will begin to "roll up their sleeves" to find the best path forward, as Knauer put it. The first step will be gathering information to understand why residents voted for and against the bond and why the measure ultimately was defeated. The district plans to put out a voter’s survey to dig into those issues.
"We want to understand what happened and why it happened, then from there be able to start discussing some next steps," Knauer said. "We’re being a little methodical."
Board member Phil Kaplan said last week that the information the Board had before Election Day was clearly flawed because no one expected the bond to fail by such a wide margin. Gathering better information is a crucial step before making any concrete decisions.
Before moving forward, Kaplan said he would like to have a firm understanding of which aspects of the plan people supported and which were the reasons the bond was voted down.
"The voters sent a message, and what that message is isn’t clear," he said. "Because there was so much emotion and so many statements that got people going. (Did it fail because of) stuff that we could do something about, or was it, like, the comment that the Board has a history of being fiscally irresponsible? Was it 10 years ago, before any of us were involved? It’s ancient history and there’s nothing we can do about that.
"We need to find what are the starting points we can build from," he added.
Eventually, Kaplan said, the Board must find another way to tackle the most important issues facing the district, such as capacity issues — even if it ultimately means ditching more controversial elements of the plan such as athletic facility upgrades.
"Because at the end of the day, the problems we were trying to solve still exist," he said. "Does anybody not believe Park City is going to keep growing? Does anybody believe that we should put $22 million into the Treasure Mountain building that has some real fundamental flaws? Does anybody believe we should keep ninth grade out of the high school? There are some aspects of the plan that are pretty clear-cut."
Knauer said the Board will continue to gather ideas for a path forward, and those initial discussions will be the focus of the Nov. 17 public meeting.
"It’s really a matter of how we look at the needs," she said. "Certainly our needs don’t change, but how we look at them might be a little bit different."
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A Parkite who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 13 is giving scholarships and internships to three first-generation graduates from PCHS.