PCCAPS program finds a home at Park City High School
May 6, 2015
The Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies will have a new home.
The Park City Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to allow the district to spend up to $200,000 to move the program to the Park City High School media center. The media center will undergo an extensive renovation to accommodate the program, which is currently housed in leased space at 1850 Sidewinder Drive.
In Tuesday’s meeting, Todd Hauber, the district’s business administrator, said the renovation will cost roughly $150,000 to $175,000, with additional costs of around $25,000 for technical drawings for the space. PCCAPS will move into the media center next school year.
The district had previously considered constructing an entirely new building for PCCAPS. That plan, which would have come with a price tag in the millions and met with public controversy, was scrapped when the district’s master planning committee identified other capital needs that have since taken priority, including potentially building a new elementary-level school.
"I believe in always meeting the needs of our community," said Ember Conley, the district’s superintendent. "We’re not a huge district, so that was something we needed to look at. We always have to be mindful of our resources and being fiscally responsible."
Board of Education member Julie Eihausen was a vocal critic of constructing a new building for PCCAPS, claiming the money that would have been spent would not benefit a large enough portion of the district’s students.
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Eihausen said Tuesday that putting PCCAPS in the high school is a perfect solution.
"I think it helps solidify that we are one high school," she said. "PCCAPS is a program that the Park City School District offers. It is not its own free-standing school. I like that all the students are going to be back in the same building."
Board member J.J. Ehlers raised a concern in Tuesday’s meeting that the remodel of the media center would potentially only be used for one year. The district is considering large-scale renovation of many areas in the high school so it can house ninth graders. The media center could be part of those renovations.
Other board members responded that scenario would be unlikely. Conley said in an interview with The Park Record it’s unclear how long PCCAPS would utilize the remodel.
"I wish I had my crystal ball and could say it was going to be there forever," she said. "But that’s really the purpose of our master planning committee and why we’re doing what we’re doing."
A preliminary floorplan for the remodeled media center show areas for student collaboration. The center will also include technologies such as projection screens. Conley said the idea is to turn it into a space similar to a "cyber café."
As the media center will no longer be used as the school’s library, the district is trying to ensure students have access to many of the books currently housed there, Conley said. The district is working with local libraries to provide physical copies of some books and has applied for a grant to provide access to others as e-books. The district is also considering donating many of its books to lower-income school districts.
Conley acknowledged some may be concerned about the lack of physical copies of books in the high school but said it represents a shift in how students of the technology age learn.
"Looking at the trends in education and how our students are learning, we know the library isn’t used the way it used to be," she said. "Being able to make it into more of a cyber-café model of work spaces, collaborative spaces and technology is really the whole wave of what education is looking like. To have that in the high school will be great."
While the renovated media center will house PCCAPS for two school periods, all students will have access to the space during the other six periods, Conley said. Additionally, she anticipates having PCCAPS in the high school will spark enthusiasm for the program from students who don’t know much about it.
"Our 10th graders will really be able to see the students and what PCCAPS is all about, as far as the expectations of professionalism and getting to meet with the business mentors," she said. "It will also be valuable for the teachers to have that exposure, to be able to pursue more project-based learning."
Moving into the media center isn’t the only change for PCCAPS, which is currently in its second year. Jennifer Jackenthal, director of the program, recently announced her resignation. Lyndsay Anderson, currently an assistant principal at the high school, will take over as director next school year.
"Lyndsay is definitely a leader at the high school," Conley said. "I think she’s really in tune with our high school students and their needs. She knows education. She understands it, she knows it. She’s just the right person."