Guest Editorial, June 2-5, 2012
June 2, 2012
As a parent of five children (four having successfully navigated to graduation in the Park City School District with one pending), I believe we, as parents, community members, taxpayers and educators, share common concerns and goals. The focus and attention, recently presented by letters to the editor, have attempted to identify the strengths of candidates as an overlay against the underlying problems facing our educational community.
The letters, the discussion and communication are a positive step in addressing our communities’ shaken confidence, our students’ educational well-being, and our recovery to a fiscally sound, education and student-driven district. As candidates we may elect to disagree on the answers but there appears to be little dispute as to the problems. We need to agree and commit to, as candidates, that the primary winners in this election process are our students, not political ambition.
My interest, to enter as a candidate for District 3, is to offer solutions and provide a perspective from the paradigm of a teacher, coach, parent, long-term resident and businessperson. Whereas we need the accounting, business and financial acumen of our sitting board members and community, I propose we refocus our efforts to our board’s namesake, "The Board of Education." Though often ignored, we are candidates for the board of "education," not finance, not accounting and certainly not taxation.
We have genuine problems that are in need of a genuine and legitimate discourse to solve them. Time and words spent questioning candidates’ motives, comparative community volunteerism and political party loyalties are certainly time and words wasted. Whether or not the candidates propose and/or agree on the solution(s) to fairly complex problems are questions for our community to ask; questions that can not be answered by posters or feigned qualifications and political talking points. It is somewhat safe to state that the district is facing far more complex issues than money and that each candidate brings qualifications which should be a resource, to the entire electorate, in their areas of expertise. No one candidate or community member’s voice should be diminished in this election process, nor should the loudest voice be the only one heard.
Simply stated, the direction and compass of the Park City School District has too often, as of late, been dysfunctional. Despite the relative immunity to economic pressures, the district faces a significant financial predicament. Despite a tax base and district income considered stratospheric when compared to the late ’80s, we suffer budget shortfalls. Furthermore, despite record-breaking community support, the teacher morale is at an all-time low. Dedicated and respected teachers and administrators are exiting our district with the speed and urgency of a school fire drill, with the district pulling the alarm. Real-estate salespersons promote the ranking of our schools but rely on generalizations of our district performance and national rankings of many years past. Using the measurements touted in 2007, we have stumbled from the lofty ratings of national recognition to comparing ourselves, in 2012, on far less prestigious state and regional metrics.
Our community, from the late 1980s, has watched our schools thrive in academic, athletic, and artistic excellence. During that time our community dialogue was about our academic accomplishments, our educators’ dedication and the distinction of our district on a national scale. Today the community discussion is relegated to gossip, personal agendas and the financial price tag of our students’ education.
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We owe an elevated discussion to our students, our educators and our community, and on that concern we can certainly agree.
Paul F. Marsh is a parent, educator, and community businessperson. He is a candidate for Park City Board of Education representing District 3.