Record editorial: Stand up for students and approve School District bond |

Record editorial: Stand up for students and approve School District bond

In 2015, voters roundly rejected the Park City School District’s $56 million bond proposal that would have paid for sweeping facility improvements.

The sentiment among many in the community was that the district had rushed its master planning process, while opponents also seized on an 11th-hour decision to tack on athletic facilities improvements to what was ostensibly a bond meant to improve the quality of education for students.

Six years later, district officials are again attempting to win the public’s support for a massive bond, this one a $79.2 million measure that is the key element of a $129 million plan to overhaul the district’s schools. The proposal calls for an expansion of Park City High School to fit the ninth grade, an expansion of Ecker Hill Middle School to accommodate eighth-graders and additions to the four elementary schools for pre-kindergarten programs and other services.

This time, voters should enthusiastically support the effort. The projects are sorely needed and are the best way to help the district deliver the best possible education to our children.

The dollar figure attached to such a wide-ranging proposal has increased dramatically in the time since the initial bond failed, a result of rising construction costs and other factors. But the criticisms that ultimately scuttled the earlier effort do not apply to the current plan.

Master planning for this proposal began in the fall of 2018, meaning residents have had three full years to offer input and help shape the process. It’s still incumbent on the district to ensure residents understand what they’re voting on — and to win buy-in prior to Election Day — but voters have had ample opportunity to become informed and to probe the whos, whats, wheres, whys and hows of the plan.

Likewise, the proposal is entirely focused on education. And each element is crucial. Moving ninth-graders into PCHS and eighth-graders into Ecker Hill would provide students with a more seamless middle-to-high school experience while also allowing the district to retire the aging Treasure Mountain Junior High.

Building onto the elementary schools, meanwhile, would enable more students to enroll in the district’s pre-kindergarten program. That’s crucial, because early childhood education has been proven to dramatically improve outcomes for students, particularly those who come from underserved families.

The district plans to raise the additional $50 million through grants, lease revenue bonds and other financing sources to bring the proposal to fruition.

But by approving the bond measure, voters would provide the bulk of the funding and signal that enhancing the education of our children is well worth the roughly $100 in additional property taxes the owner of a primary home valued at $945,000 would pay each year.

We have a long history of supporting education in this community. It’s one of the reasons our district is among the best in the state and why this is such a desirable place to live.

Stand up for our students once again this fall and throw your support behind this bond measure.

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