Park City School District meets with parents, community members to restructure after bond delay
It plans to move forward with a Master Plan in the future
After a tumultuous past couple of years in the Park City School District about future planning, the district decided to go back to the basics.
Parents, community members and the Park City Board of Education came together on Monday night to evaluate the core values of the district during a strategic planning meeting. More than 60 people were split into five tables, where they were led in a discussion by Board and district officials. One theme was presented by rotating discussion leaders, and each theme evolved from data collected from surveys and focus groups that the Board reviewed last weekend. They were: communication, one size does not fit all, community involvement, leadership accountability and excellent personnel.
As Board members wrote down the comments from the public, there was a recurring topic regardless of the set theme. One parent called out, “Write WHY on the board in all caps.”
Many parents and community members felt that with the failed bond in 2015 for new schools, there was a lack of communication about how the Board reached a decision, said Christina Miller, a local parent.
Miller, who was in favor of the bond, came to the meeting to learn more about what needs to be done for a bond to pass.
“I’m happy they are reaching out to the community and asking what is important to them for that plan,” she said.
Another mother with children in the school district, Elaine Murray, enjoyed the event, but thought that only allowing 10 minutes for 15 to 20 adults to speak was not enough time. Still, she felt that she was able to get her own opinion vocalized.
“I came because if you don’t show up, your voice is not heard,” she said. “You don’t get to criticize if you don’t bother to participate.”
Petra Butler, a member of the Board, understood that concern, which is why she is telling people to call her or email firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any other suggestions.
After the Board reviews the feedback, it is scheduled to hold a meeting at 10 a.m. on Oct. 10 at the district office to present its findings to the public. It then plans to establish new values and move toward a Master Plan that will dictate future facilities.
The possibility of a bond was discussed in some length at every table, and Board members listened to suggestions. Butler was excited to see so many people attend and contribute their opinions.
“It was a very community-driven activity, where we did a lot of listening and not a lot of talking,” she said.
Most of what was said during the evening was reaffirmation of concerns that have previously been voiced, she said. One of the concerns was the level of communication within the district. That was one problem community member Steve Swanson, who has three grandchildren in the district, came to express.
“Within the district — administration, staff teachers, all top to bottom — historically over the last 15, 20, maybe 25 years there have been put in place firewalls that prevent people from talking to one another and I think that is very problematic,” he said. “Anybody should be able to talk to anybody.”
He, like many other people who attended, was satisfied and felt as if the Board was finally listening as it should be.
“It’s a reasonable start,” he said.
The arsenic-and-lead-containing soil has been a contentious issue for the district, which piled it onto the junior high campus in actions that were later discovered to be in violation of a covenant with the Environmental Protection Agency.
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