Ray Timothy enters year two
When Ray Timothy saw the opportunity to work for in what he considers the "best school district in Utah," he didn’t hesitate to take the job. Timothy, Park City School District (PCSD) superintendent, says Park City has the best schools in the state because of both the community and the schools’ employees. He said high community expectations for quality education coupled with a strong willingness to get involved have been paramount to the success of the PCSD. Timothy also spoke of the high caliber employees that the district is able to attract. According to Timothy, Park City employs teachers from all over the world, forming a group with diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives.
Timothy has served as district superintendent for just over a year, and was the state deputy superintendent before taking his current job. His move back to the district level was motivated partially by his belief that he can have a more direct impact working at the local level.
When Timothy took a job with the PCSD, the first thing he did was move to Park City in June of 2007 because he wanted to be involved in the community he’d be working with. Since then he’s made a continuing effort to become a part of the community. Timothy said that he’s worked at all levels of education, from elementary to high school, at some point in his career. He’s a Utah native, and has lived and worked in Utah his entire life.
Timothy said that he had a great first-year experience and has a high level of confidence in the PCSD, its employees, and the direction they’re going. His greatest concerns are outside forces that the district cannot directly control. For example, a state legislator is working on a capital equalization initiative that would have a negative economic impact on the district. The result would be what Timothy described a "Robin Hood effect" because the state would be able to take funds levied from taxes in Utah’s wealthiest districts and distribute them in the poorest. Timothy continued by explaining that because the PCSD has the wealthiest tax base in the state it is often a target in equalization debates.
A related issue is the difference between the wealthiest families in the valley and the poorest. He explained that this brings unique challenges to the district in its attempt to provide equal education to students with distinct home situations and past experiences.
According to Timothy, the school district is focused on keeping class sizes small. The district average is 23 students per teacher, however, the district maintains flexibility from school to school, moving teachers to where they see the greatest need.
Timothy is perhaps most excited about the integration of technology into area schools. This year the district will begin an initiative called eMints, an acronym that stands for enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies. EMints is an all-encompassing program that not only brings new technology hardware into classrooms, but also provides training to teachers so they can properly integrate the technology into their day-to-day lessons.
This year eMints will launch in every fifth-grade classroom in the district. Next year fourth and sixth-grade classes will join the program. The following year, the 2010-11 school-year, the district will begin a, "one to one initiative" which Timothy described as a program that will put a laptop in the hands of every seventh-grader in the district. The equipment will be integrated into the curriculum and the students will be able to keep the computer throughout their high school years.
Looking into the future, the school district has been using community surveys to open a discussion about what’s working and what needs to be fixed. Changes the district is considering for the future include a move to full-day kindergarten for all students and an expansion of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
Today both Ecker Hill International Middle School (EHIMS) and Treasure Mountain International School (TMIS) are international schools, meaning that their curriculum meets international standards, standards higher than those at the national level. Because EHIMS and TMIS are IB schools, students can more easily transfer between EHIMS or TMIS to schools in other countries. The district could potentially filter the IB diploma program down to the primary schools.
Timothy has also begun talks with the North and South Summit School Districts to build a career and technology center that would be shared between the three districts. The center would improve resources and opportunities for students in all three districts. Technology classes and classes to prepare students for careers such as those in the hospitality industry could be offered. Construction is still in the discussion phase.
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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.