Park City Education Foundation provides opportunities with its school grants
When students qualify for the national competition for debate or the Future Business Leaders of America club after months of preparing, it can be disheartening to see the price tag associated with traveling to the event. Chris Wood, the FBLA advisor at Park City High School, knows this as well as any coach, which is why he is always glad to see the Park City Education Foundation step up and cover the costs when it can.
The foundation’s Academic Competition National Travel Fund helps pay for travel and competition costs for academic groups at Park City High School competing on a national level. It is one of the many programs funded by the foundation’s school grants, which were recently announced.
The grants totaled $300,000 and funded about 50 different programs at schools throughout Park City School District, said Jen Billow, associate director of the foundation. Each of the grants help programs that students throughout one grade or one school can benefit from, as opposed to the teacher grants the foundation announces in the winter that benefit individual classrooms.
Billow said that this year’s amount of funding was almost double from last year. The foundation decided to redirect funds from its district grant program to be used for school grants, said Kara Cody, programs director.
“We have found that programs are more successful when they are done at a school level as opposed to across the district,” she said. “They are more easily managed and we see a much greater impact for those programs.”
She said that it is often best to pilot programs with school grants and then expand them to other schools in the district. Oftentimes, school grants come from teacher grants that were piloted in a classroom. That was the case with Wild Wonders at Trailside Elementary School. During the program, students learn about animals through hands-on experiences with them.
One of this year’s school grants is for Blues in the School at Ecker Hill Middle School, which teaches students about the history of blues music and how to play the harmonica. It was funded by a teacher grant last year.
Some of the other new grants include $13,000 to Park City High School to purchase a curriculum called Project Wayfinder for the PCCAPS (Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies) program. It focuses on helping students find purpose in their school work so they are better prepared for post-graduation life. Cody said that Project Wayfinder, and some of the other programs funded by the grants, allow Park City schools to be on the forefront of trends. They also help create opportunities for students by paying for class fees or covering the costs of college visits.
Wood said that the fund that pays for FBLA registration fees helps make events like the national competition more accessible for people. This year, eight students went to Baltimore for the event.
“We appreciate everything that PCEF does; they definitely are making the trip more doable for some of our students,” Wood said. “And the experience they have is fantastic.”
The trip is an incentive for students to work hard throughout the year, he said. Once they are there and go against talented students around the country, they “step up their game.”
The grants are funded in part by proceeds from the foundation’s Running With Ed race, which took place in May.
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.