Park City Board of Education gets first look at master plan
After seven months of public meetings, special committees and community surveys, the Park City Board of Education’s master planning consultants presented the Board with recommendations for the Park City School District’s next chapter.
The options, delivered to the Board April 16, centered around varying grade alignment configurations, including placing sixth-grade students back in the elementary schools and having seventh and eighth graders in one school. Representatives from the consulting firm GSBS Architects and the district’s project manager NV5 also discussed options for pre-school locations and for ninth-graders to move into the high school. The Board intends to make a decision about a master plan at its next meeting on May 21.
The district is scheduled to host a community forum on Tuesday, April 30, so community members can ask questions or comment about the recommendations. The event is scheduled to take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Park City High School Lecture Hall.
Chris Guarino, managing director with NV5, said during the Board’s meeting that grade alignment is the “cornerstone everything needs to be built off of” as the Board determines its master plan.
“Once we know where the grades are going to be, we can start to make those supplementary decisions about what the buildings look like, how big do you want the buildings, and so on and so forth,” he said.
He said there was clear consensus both that ninth-graders should be in the high school and that seventh and eighth grades should be housed in the same school. The two ideas were supported by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community members, said Christine Richman, a principal for GSBS Architects.
She said the grade alignment task force was the largest of the five task forces that analyzed critical issues such as the future of Treasure Mountain Junior High and school locations.
Richman presented four options for the alignment of kindergarten through eighth-grade. Option A is to have neighborhood elementary schools house kindergarten through fifth grade and a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school. Option B would put sixth-graders back into elementary schools and place seventh- and eighth-graders together in a middle school. Option C is to have kindergarten through eighth grade in one school, and option D is to have kindergarten through fourth grade in the elementary schools, fifth and sixth grades in another and seventh and eighth grades in a third school. No costs were given for the options.
Guarino said the public and the Board should first make decisions about the big picture of the master plan before diving into the specifics such as costs, traffic and environmental impacts and school start times. The Board plans to continue to address those topics as the master planning conversations continue. When the consultants scored the options based on community values, such as divisions that are appropriate with development stages and minimizing transitions so students have a sense of belonging in their schools, the first two options received the highest scores.
Guarino said option B could be difficult to implement because the district would likely need to add another elementary school in order to meet the space demands. He warned the Board that a new elementary school might spur conversations about altering the elementary school or district boundaries. Richman and Guarino said option A aligned best with the community’s values and the goals of the district.
Richman said if the Board chooses option A, the district could either use the current facilities or build a new facility. She said if there were one middle school for grades six through eight, there would be approximately 1,350 students in the school by 2027.
Richman also presented options that would accommodate ninth-graders in the high school. She said the district could have one high school, two high schools of similar size, or one main high school and a smaller, specialty high school with a career and technical education focus.
She also discussed options for preschool education, such as building an early learning center or making more space in the neighborhood elementary schools to accommodate the growing program.
Andrew Caplan, president of the Board, said after the meeting that option A seemed to be the best option for the district.
“The recommendation given by the consultants made a lot of sense,” he said. “That said, there are still a lot of choices that have to be made by the community. I think we are at the part where we need to start narrowing them down.”
He said the consultants’ recommendations and data aligned with what the Board has heard from community members and teachers. He is eager to hear the public’s opinion during the upcoming community forum.
Melinda Colton, spokesperson for the district, said the goal of the forum is to gather community feedback on the master plan recommendations. She said attendees should study the plans before they attend the meeting.
A panel made up of a city leader, Board member, district administrator, steering committee member and consultant member will answer questions and take comments during the forum. Colton said it will be the best time for community members to comment about the district’s future. All comments will be recorded, and the Board plans to review the feedback leading up to its meeting in May.
Colton said the consultants plan to release a survey about the recommendations after the meeting, and the Board will also take the survey results into account. The consultants plan to present a facilities assessment and discuss the specific costs of the master plan recommendations during the Board meeting on May 21.
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