Guest editorial: New Park City Board of Education is ready to tackle the big issues
In listening to all the hubbub and chatter of late about our new school board, I am trying to look beyond squawks and cries of woe and listen to where these accusations are coming from. The talking points are all the same, they’re unprepared, untrained and inexperienced. Again from whom and where are these voices coming?
We have had three school board presidents voluntarily quit in just the last fifteen months. Not so coincidentally, it’s from those departed leaders, their computers, their supporters and even their personal friends that those themes are emanating. Their words are being used in an effort to undermine the five fine citizens, 4 in their first year on the job, that have stepped in to right this beleaguered ship. These five board members have decided to stay involved, to try to lead by seeking public input and by trying to build an educated consensus about how we move forward. These current members are from five different parts of Park City proper. They did not know each other before seeking their jobs. They were not recruited or drafted by any group or outside party interest. They all have business and organizational backgrounds and all are current or former parents of PC students. That is why they have stepped in and taken on this challenge of public leadership.
We have never had a Board of Education in the 40 years that I have lived, taught and volunteered in the PC educational system, that has truly represented our citizens, children and teachers. We have always had strong outside influences such as our state government, people that want to balance the budget on the backs of our children and the State board of Education’s backward politics that have tied the hands of our local leaders. These political barriers have caused dysfunction in our past boards, and a constant turnover in our appointed an elected leaders. This lack of consistent leadership has caused us to be unprepared for meeting the educational needs of our growing community. We don’t have to name names or go into detail at this time, but if necessary or if you would like to discuss the details, my number is 801-201-9201.
More than their names, we need to look at the policies of those that have failed and departed. They failed to pass a necessary school bond for the first time ever, by alienating citizens groups and individuals with good ideas and input. They failed to choose the right leaders settling for inexperienced, unproven and unrepresentative executives. They were unable to even draft an acceptable Master Plan for the district, let alone sell it to the public.
Our new members are aware that to sell a plan to the voting public, they must engage them. They must make them feel that they are part of the decision making process. They are moving to not only include public input, something never tried before by our previous school boards, but they are seeking advice from community experts on public planning, construction methods, traffic impact, school security and yes even educational trends that might fit our unique population of Parkites.
At some point soon we are going to have to sit down and finalize our educational Master Plan. I am hoping that these former leaders who have stepped away will help us come together to work for the greater good and to cement their legacies as the well intentioned and concerned citizens we thought they were. We owe our children our best effort to make this happen; but first have we must stop looking to the past for answers. We must come together, if we want to be a functional and effective school district.
A reader involved in addressing mental health in Summit County applauds Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and his wife Elena Amsterdam for their efforts to help mountain towns wrap their arms around the issue.