It’s time to file for a seat on the school board |

It’s time to file for a seat on the school board

Taylor Eisenman, of the Record staff

Four of Park City School District’s five school board members David Chaplin (precinct 1), Lisa Kirchenheiter (vice president, precinct 2), Vern Christensen (precinct 3) and Michael Boyle (precinct 5) are up for reelection this year.

Normally, only three seats would be open, but because Boyle was appointed and not elected, he must run after two years, instead of after the conventional four-year term. If Boyle chooses to file for an elected position on the board, he could continue his term for the next two years.

He said he is seriously thinking about running. "I have just gotten my feet wet," he said. "The smart answer is yes, I’m running."

In 2006, Boyle ran and was barely defeated by Charles Cunningham for the position. After Cunningham moved to another precinct about six months into taking the position, Boyle was appointed by the school board to serve. He came on in September 2007.

"I wanted to run initially to give back to the educational community that’s been so good for my family. My son has really enjoyed his time in the district," he said. "I also participated in Leadership Park City, and that experience gave me the tools to contribute and the enticement to serve the community."

Boyle said he did a lot of research on the position before he ran. "I attended a ton of meetings and interviewed the board members," he said. "I had a good feeling for what it entailed, but it takes even more time than I had first anticipated. Anyone contemplating serving on a school board should be prepared to spend many hours a month dealing with school-district policy."

Recommended Stories For You

The other members agreed that being on the board entails a significant time commitment. "It was much more time required than I thought it would be," said Kirchenheiter, who stated that she will run again this year. "But the good part is that you really are able to make a difference in your community.

Kirchenheiter said by taking the time to understand all the intricate processes, she has learned "a tremendous amount." For her, the duties and responsibilities are always on her mind. "I equate it to being a parent," she said. "Even if your kid is not in the room, you’re still always thinking about them."

The time commitment was also one of many surprises for Christensen. "It’s something you’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing and the people you’re working with."

For him, it is the people of Park City School District that make the job enjoyable. "It’s great working with parents that are so involved and educators, employees and administrators that are so dedicated," he said. "They are just a fine group of people."

Boyle also reiterated what a "fantastic, dedicated group working on the board and in the administration this community has." He said he was fortunate to work for such a classy, professional organization.

Christensen and Boyle also agreed that being able to work with Superintendent Ray Timothy has been great as well. "He can articulate the toughest, thorniest issues in the clearest possible terms," Boyle said.

Christensen added that while he is "on the fence" about running again because his son is graduating from high school and he won’t have any more children in the district, right now he is "having a ball" with Timothy and the other board members.

Chaplin is also undecided about running again. He was appointed by a sitting board member in 1992 and has held a position on the Board of Education ever since.

Chaplin, a former Park City High School teacher, said he has enjoyed being on the board because he gets to make positive policy changes and experience the results of those changes. "It is a wonderful opportunity to serve your community at the very most important level our children, our young people," he said. "The community is involved and depends on the school system, so that increases the responsibility."

He added that it’s great to see students accomplishing things that you think are way beyond them and to see teachers and other staff members helping them achieve those goals.

Chaplin said one aspect of serving on the board that he doesn’t enjoy is dealing with personnel issues. "In many cases you know the individuals involved, so it’s hard to make a judgment, but you have to go by the policies," he said.

Creating, changing or amending policies are some of the main functions of the school board. Christensen emphasized that anybody considering running for a position on the board has to understand that "change doesn’t happen quickly; it takes a long time to filter through."

One of the reasons, Chaplin said, is because it "takes a long while to learn whether information and recommendations are sound and in the interest of the greater good."

The board is also in charge of hiring or firing the superintendent and the business administrator, as well as allocating funds throughout the district.

Learning the nuances of education finance peaks Christensen’s interest. "A whole lot goes into it. You’re responsible for the budgeting that goes within the district and approving the budgeting and taxing," he said. "Those are two big responsibilities that people are concerned about."

He continued that with the Legislature changing laws every year, the process can become even more complicated.

School board elections

Who’s running and how you can get in the race

David Chaplin: undecided

Precinct 1: Thaynes and Iron Canyon, Old Town, Pay Day and Golf Course, Deer Valley

Lisa Kirchenheiter: running

Precinct 2: Prospector, Prospector commercial, Park Meadows east, Highland Estates/Silver Summit, Old Ranch Road/East Silver Springs

Vern Christensen: undecided

Precinct 3: Lucky John/Park Meadows, Post Office/Eagle Point, Quarry Ranch/Ranch Creek, The Canyons/west of SR 224, west of Silver Springs Drive

Michael Boyle: most likely running

Precinct 5: Olympic Park, Lower Pinebrook/Ranch Estates, Timberline, Summit Park

Anyone interested in running for a position on the Board of Education must file at the County Clerk’s Office between March 7 at 8 a.m. and March 17 at 5 p.m. A declaration of candidacy must be filled out and residency in the precinct in verified. There is also a $25 filing fee.

If more than two candidates run in the same precinct, then there will be a primary held on June 24 to narrow the candidates down to two people. Positions will be voted on in the general election on Nov. 4. Elected candidates begin serving on the school board in January.