Parents, schools not ready for realignment just yet
The Park Record editorial, February 15-17, 2017
The Park City Board of Education is slated to vote on whether to go forward with, or postpone, a district-wide grade alignment that would affect each and every one of its schools this September.
As proposed prior to last year’s bond election, in the fall of 2017, ninth graders would move into the high school, seventh and eighth graders would move to Ecker Hill Middle School and Treasure Mountain Junior High School would house fifth and sixth graders.
That plan was adopted assuming that the high school expansion and a new building to replace Treasure Mountain would be well underway.
But the failure of the $56 million school bond in 2015 threw a wrench into those plans.
The overriding message during that election was that, while the pubic supports spending for education, they did not want to rush.
Shifting that many students this fall, and then again when the new facilities are built, would create an unnecessary disruption for both students and teachers.
The school district and its constituents are making progress on a new master plan they hope will be more palatable to voters who will likely see a new bond proposal on the ballot in the fall. But while those plans are being hammered out, it would be premature to commit to the current realignment plan.
Educators, students and parents seem to be in agreement that the ninth graders belong at the high school and that creating separate settings for fifth/sixth and seventh/eighth graders is a good idea, but there is still plenty of debate about how to make those changes, given existing facilities.
Moving a whole grade to a new school creates big challenge for kids. It also requires adjustments by families, especially those with students in more than one school. There are also impacts on teachers and administrators, as well as support services like busing, extra curricular activities and sports.
The Park City School District is already considering a number of major initiatives, including changing school start times and a substantial campus overhaul. Board members should keep all of their options open, pending a decision on the new master plan and whether their constituents will approve a bond to fund it.
The best way to do that is to postpone realignment and first put all of their efforts into creating a carefully considered plan for new facilities.