School board changes abound
The Park City Board of Education meeting held last week was more than the final one of the year. It was also the final meeting for two current board members, Lisa Kirchenheiter and Anne Bransford. With the end of the year fast approaching, the newly elected school board officials will soon take their seats as Kirchenheiter and Bransford say goodbye.
Whether it was developing relationships with Utah legislators or working to create a Master Plan, Kirchenheiter and Bransford said they felt confident in where the board is headed as they step down.
Lisa Kirchenheiter, who represented Precinct 2 for the Park City School District, said that with her two sons grown and in college, she felt the time was right to move on to the next thing.
"I have been on board for eight years," she said. "Eight years is a long time to be doing this, at least for me. It was time to move on. My kids have both graduated from college, and I feel like I can focus my interests elsewhere."
In her eight years, Kirchenheiter has focused on building relationships in and out of the community, working with other school districts, legislators and education groups. And in eight years, she has built strong ties with those outside the district in her efforts to dispel Park City stereotypes.
"When I started going down to the Legislature, I started to realize there were these stereotypes people had about Park City," Kirchenheiter said. "I kept going because I was hoping to break stereotypes, especially because I don’t think I fit what they believed Park City people were like. And after I got to know them, they didn’t fit my stereotype either. It was a good lesson for both sides."
Precinct 3 Representative Anne Bransford also put her own brand on her role as a serving board member. Bransford completed one, four-year-long term with the Park City School District. And with three children grown and the youngest about to graduate from the Park City High School, Bransford said she is looking for new projects.
"I did this for my kids," Bransford said, "to put something back into the school district as a single parent. When I ran, it was to make a difference."
"We’ve built on what was here, strengthened it," she added. "People may say ‘no-way, no-how,’ but that’s how I feel."
Bransford took up several initiatived, including voicing her support for the dual immersion programs, creating a Master Plan and improving communication between the board and the community.
"I like to think we have started to change the culture," she said. "We’re all in this together. It is not the board versus teachers or administrators We’ve tried to be open, and that is change."
Before Kirchenheiter and Bransford step down, they hope to reach an agreement with the Park City Education Association, the local teachers union, on their contracts.
"My goal is to try to get multi-year contract that is mutually beneficial," Bransford said. "I want to get it this month, which is very doable."
Kirchenheiter agreed, adding that Senate Bill 64 passed in the last session of the Utah State Legislature plays a huge role in compensation because the law includes reforming teacher evaluations to tie into a pay scale.
"Right now, teacher salary negotiations are on the top of my mind," she said. " There are legislative game changers, and this issue is being addressed all across the country. We’re not unique. This is something everyone is struggling with."
Both terms officially end on Jan. 1, when their successors Nancy Garrison and Tania Knauer will begin.
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Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt died Friday from injuries sustained in an off-duty accident earlier in the week, the agency announced.