Student to Student
December 24, 2007
Park City High School newsletters, websites, and fact sheets all boast the success of the extremely successful "consistent" Academic Decathlon (AD) team. AD competitions consist of 10 events, which include seven tests, two performance events and an essay. John Krenkel, the head of the AD team has been with the Park City School District for 26 years and has been coaching the AD team for 25 of those years. Krenkel said he has "lost track of how many times the team has won we have one all but one of the last 10 or 12 years, so probably about 15 or 16 times total."
So, why would a large portion of the funding to a team that is so successful and obviously beneficial to the student body be cut? As of last October the Community Council had a $61,866 surplus of Lands Trust Money and at the end of last school year the district reportedly had a $2.7 million budget surplus.
The school pays for the transportation and needed lodging to instate competitions. However, last year, a week before the team planned to leave to nationals in Hawaii they were told they were going to have to pay half the cost. The team came up with the money, but it was a struggle. This year, and in the future they will have to raise the entire cost for national competitions. The team only goes out of state once a year if they win state.
This year the competition is in Los Angeles, which is a bit less expensive, yet Krenkel is still forced to solicit (beg) for donations. Also, in addition to cutting out-of-state traveling expenses, one of the most involved teachers in the school, Krenkel, is no longer paid for his Academic Decathlon coaching.
Krenkel said he "no longer gets paid for coaching because he teaches an AD class." However, this means all of the time he devotes to traveling with the team on weekends and the study sessions he hosts on Saturdays are completely without pay.
This man, Krenkel, who has been teaching for 35 years, been with the Park City School district 26 years, been running the Europe Trip for many years, and teaching Saturday AP classes feels as if he is being forced out of teaching. He will be retiring this year in large part because, he says, his "retirement money would be greater than his teaching salary."
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Krenkel describes the AD team as a "great program" that benefits all the kids who are willing to take on the challenge.
"It is the No. 1 academic game in the country and is far more competitive and widely played than games such as Olympiad," he said adding, the AD team covers a "huge amount of material in great depth."
Krenkel said he thought that an AD competitor "could walk into a senior course in college and receive an A."
He also believes AD "is especially beneficial to the students in the under-3.0 grade-average category. There are a lot of smart kids without the grades." AD has helped many of these kids get into great small schools such as "Lake Forest, Carlton, Center, and Bard." He says, "mid category students with over a 3.75 grade average will make it either way. It is the under-3.0 kids that really get the most out of the experience." For instance, Krenkel recalled a student about five years ago who was in the under 3.0 category and "won top scholar overall at the state competition and went on to be the student body president at Carlton."