Julie Eihausen – Park City District 5
Park City District 5, Julie Eihausen
What are your qualifications and why are you running?
Education is my passion. I have been asked to run for the school board multiple times but the timing wasn’t right until now. My youngest daughter is in high school so I am ready to decrease my school-specific volunteering and focus on our district as a whole. My husband and I have two children, a Park City High graduate and a Park City High junior. Our family has lived here since 2002; our youngest entered the district at kindergarten. I am an active volunteer and my experience includes Parent Teacher Organizations (10 years), School Community Councils (9 years), Multiple District Level Committees (8 years), State SCC Committee (3 years), Community Service (10 years) and I have been regularly attending School Board meetings (9 years). I can work at the classroom, school, district and state levels; I have testified in front of the state legislature regarding education issues. I am an involved patron and know the issues facing the district. With my experience, I am ready to "hit the ground running". Budgeting and finance are my expertise and I am an accountant/business efficiency consultant for several companies. I will bring over 20 years of that expertise to the district.
Many in the community have expressed concern that the district’s budget model is unsustainable. Do you share this concern? If so, how will you fix it? If not, why not?
Budget sustainability is a real concern. It must be balanced. Some difficult conversations will need to occur, but I do believe resolution is possible. Our district needs to review the programs we currently fund and determine if they are the most effective use of our dollars. Is a particular program achieving what we expected? Timely evaluation of the value of all programs is critical. The district needs to financially reward exceptional teaching/leadership, but the reality of financial constraints also needs to be recognized. Engaging and motivating teachers should be compensated accordingly. We need to evaluate staffing – from the top down. Are we using our resources in the most effective and efficient manner? The budget needs a complete line by line analysis to determine if the district is funding what our community values. While this process is tedious, it is necessary for healthy budgeting and sustainability.
Numbers show Hispanic students in the district do not perform nearly as well on college entrance exams as the district average? What can the district do to narrow this gap and ensure that all Park City students are positioned for success when they graduate?
The achievement gap is an important issue. The path the high school has taken to encourage Advanced Placement enrollment is a great one. Just this year the state began paying for all students to take the PLAN (practice ACT) in their sophomore year and ACT in their junior year. Using the PLAN, we can identify students that need more preparation and encourage them to enroll in the test prep class now being offered at the high school. Education is the key to a bright future and we need to communicate that to all of our students. I would also like to see our district provide all-day kindergarten for all students. Data has shown that all-day kindergarten improves student success and helps kids catch up if they are not prepared when they enter school. It is a great investment and one I think our district needs to make.
Given the rise in enrollment in the district in recent years, what are your views on changing the district boundaries?
I am not in favor of expanding the school district boundaries. The idea of one high school for our area appeals to me and if we increase boundaries, a single high school would not be possible. I am, however, open to discussing this particular point. As of now, I do not understand the full implications of any changes and would need to review the information prior to making any sort of decision.
The district is one of the state’s highest performing. But what specific measures should be taken to further improve the education offering?
The district needs to look at programs at all levels and determine what classes are best to prepare students for their global future. The majority of our students go on to a four year college, but we need to prepare all our students for success. Certification in certain skills gives a leg-up to graduates entering the workforce and also provides an incentive to remain in school and graduate. The Center for Advanced Professional Studies program needs to work in tandem with our CTE department, include our film department and provide culinary and medical certification. Advanced placement classes with their rigor give our graduates an advantage when they apply to top-tier colleges and many high school students graduate with over 10 AP credits; Park City is doing several things right. We also need to be focused on staff and providing the appropriate professional development, support and atmosphere to retain excellence.
How does your platform differ from that of your opponent?
I have been advocating for budget responsibility, small class sizes and increased community engagement for years. I have been a consistent attendee at school board meetings for over eight years and have been an active participant, frequently offering public comment. My interest is in education and our district, students and staff; decisions made by the School Board regarding compensation, benefits and policy, do not directly impact my family. Our district is facing a budgeting crisis and with over 20 years of accounting experience, I have that expertise. I understand education funding and cost accounting. I believe that transparency is very important and school board decisions need to be explained and make sense to our community. Park City needs to graduate an employable workforce along with college ready students and providing the best education we can K-12 is a great investment. I have served at all levels, elementary, secondary, district and state. We have the qualified staff, community support and great students. I have the time, interest and experience; along with a track record of accomplishing goals. Let’s all put our efforts towards making Park City the best school district it can be. Please vote Eihausen for Education on November 4th.
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Park City officials are preparing to take what is considered to be an important step in protecting the Treasure land from wildfires. City Hall in early June requested proposals from firms interested in the work.