Retired teacher and parent compete for seat on the Park City Board of Education
As the Park City School District continues to integrate several new positions across the schools, the Park City Board of Education will soon be adding another new face to the district.
Kara Hendrickson and Vicky Fitlow are both vying for a seat on the Board to represent District 4, which includes the neighborhoods of Jeremy Ranch, Bitner and Silver Creek. J.J. Ehlers, who currently represents District 4 on the Board, will not be running for reelection.
Fitlow and Hendrickson have spent the last few months attending events and meeting with constituents to share their platforms as they prepare for Election Day on Nov. 6. They were the only candidates who filed for the open seat.
Both candidates said the question they have been asked perhaps the most in the last few weeks is how they view the budget and tax increase, which the Board recently passed. Some constituents have expressed concerns that the budget is not sustainable.
Hendrickson said she agrees.
As a retired teacher, she was in support of the district raising teacher’s salaries, but said she wonders how the district will be able to sustain such a high budget over time.
Fitlow said she would have voted in favor of the budget. She said the increase was due to the increase in services in the schools, but she does agree the rising taxes are worrying.
She hopes the Board continues to collect data and anecdotal evidence to support its decisions both with the budget and other policies. Student-centered and evidence-based decision making is one of her three campaign platforms. Good governance and fiscal responsibility are the other two.
Hendrickson said one of her priorities is increasing transparency of the Board so that constituents are more informed about the “why” behind decisions such as the budget, curriculum or assessments. She said that while data is important, it is also critical to get input from people who are on the ground.
She would like to see Board members visiting local schools more and even spending time in the classrooms. She said her experience teaching at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School between 1999 and 2015 would help connect the Board to the schools.
“I think it’s really important that the Board has a highly qualified educator on that Board,” she said. “That eye of what is going on in the trenches I think is extremely important.”
Plus, she said, having her children go from kindergarten to graduation in Park City School District provides her with a perspective that would balance out the Board.
Fitlow’s three children have attended Soaring Wings Montessori School and Weilenmann School of Discovery, but one of her daughters recently entered ninth grade at Treasure Mountain Junior High.
While her children were at Weilenmann, she served on the school’s Board of Directors for a few years and was the chair during the 2016-17 school year.
That experience on the Board, she said, taught her how to work together with people who have different ideas and how to understand one’s role as a Board member and stay within one’s bounds.
“Between prior Board experience and having been at all the Board meetings for the last two years, I really think that one of the strengths I bring is I can hit the ground running,” she said.
She said that knowing what a Board member’s responsibilities are and are not aligns with the tenet of good governance, which includes knowing what is appropriate for teachers, administrators or parents to report to Board members. She wants to be open and available to listen to feedback from everyone, but said there are times when information has to go through a chain of command that she would respect if elected.
The Board seats in District 1 and 5 were also up for election, but Anne Peters from District 1 and Erin Grady in District 5 were the only candidates who filed.
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Compensation is the largest issue left on the table after a contract governing most every other aspect of teachers’ employment was negotiated earlier in June.