Public hears School District pitch on $79 million bond | ParkRecord.com
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Public hears School District pitch on $79 million bond

Residents share thoughts, ask questions at open house meeting

Andrew Caplan, a Park City Board of Education member, responds to a question from a resident Thursday during an information meeting at Ecker Hill Middle School regarding the School District’s $79 million bond proposal.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Park City School District administrators and Board of Education members gathered at Ecker Hill Middle School Thursday evening for an informal community gathering, another chance before Election Day for the public to weigh in on the $79 million bond proposal school officials have put to voters.

A half dozen community members were in attendance, with another 13 tuning into the meeting via Zoom. The turnout was relatively sparse but nonetheless a marked improvement over the Board of Education’s first bond hearing Sept. 21, which saw only two people arrive and no public comment submitted.

Business Administrator Todd Hauber began the meeting with an outline of the master plan process that began in 2018 and the first phase of the project, which would expand Park City High School to accommodate the ninth grade, expand Ecker Hill Middle School to fit the eighth grade and build additions to all four elementary schools for pre-kindergarten programs and other services. The work is part of an overall proposal pegged at $129 million.



After the overview, board member Andrew Caplan outlined the priorities laid out by the community three years ago, and said of chief concern is to cause “the least disruption possible” to the students. The district, for example, doesn’t want classes held in trailers any longer than necessary, he said.

Caplan also addressed the $56 million school bond that failed in 2015, and said the district learned valuable lessons from that process. Most important, he said, was the public’s lack of support for athletic facility improvements.



“What we learned is that there was not a lot of buy-in from the community to move our football field, renovate gymnasiums, things like that,” he said. “It’s not to say we don’t need those renovations.”

Those renovations, Superintendent Dr. Jill Gildea added, will be addressed in the second phase of the master plan project which is not part of the current bond. The first phase is focused entirely on educational improvements, which the district hopes will receive greater support from the voters.

Caplan said the district will look to work with the community on things like baseball facility improvements and what is to be done with Treasure Mountain Junior High once it is no longer in use for instruction. The district is open to ideas, he said, from repurposing it to razing it and building something else in its place, but he said officials want that decision to be a collaboration among the district, local municipalities and private entities.

“Our facilities are community facilities,” Caplan said.

Park City School District Superintendent Jill Gildea discusses the district’s $79 million bond proposal during a public event Thursday. The money would fund the bulk of a $129 million proposal for wide-ranging facilities improvements.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

A community member asked about the financing plan and why the board was choosing to pursue a bond for only a portion of the $129 million in projects. Caplan said, first, that interest rates are “the cheapest in our lifetimes” and said there will never be a better time for a bond, but he also added that the district’s other primary planned revenue source, real property leases, will not cost much more in interest. He said the real property lease also gives the district more flexibility in how the debt is paid back. A parent group could throw a bake sale, for instance, and the proceeds could go toward paying down the lease. With a general obligation bond before voters, he said, the repayment options are more restrictive.

Caplan said he is hopeful the public will see the bond as an opportunity that is too good to pass up. The facility improvements in the master plan, he said, will set the district up for the next 10-15 years.

The district will hold a second bond hearing at its board meeting Oct. 19, and the public is encouraged to attend and offer input or ask questions. For more information, visit pcfutureoflearning.pcschools.us/bond-2021.


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