Guest opinion: Here’s why I am running for another term on the school board
Park City Board of Education president
My name is Andrew Caplan and I am running for a second term on the Park City Board of Education. I am a parent of two children in the district: a 4th-grade daughter and a kindergarten son who both attend Parley’s Park Elementary. My children will be in the district for the next decade, which makes me personally invested in future success for all students. My professional background is in international finance and I currently manage a business of 20 employees who trade global securities on behalf of institutional investors.
I want to briefly outline why I am running for re-election, what the board has accomplished in the past four years and what we are planning for our students and staff over in the future.
1) Master planning — We are in the midst of a two-year planning process for the community’s schools to lay out a blueprint for what education and our facilities will look like over the next 10-20 years. The community has been leading this process and collectively we have outlined three key projects to push education forward in the district: getting the 9th grade into the high school/replacing TJMH, moving the 8th grade to an expanded Ecker Hill, and expanding early childhood education and wraparound services in our community. The COVID pandemic has further influenced this process by reminding us that our facilities must be flexible in space and technologically advanced. More details on this process and how you can be involved can be found at pcfutureoflearning.pcschools.us.
2) Academic success — The district is committed to engaging ALL students to reach their full potential no matter where they are on their academic journey. Equity is a lens through which we make all decisions whether it’s increasing the number of AP classes at the high school, supplying all students with laptops and iPads or paying for academic fees so that personal financial situations don’t have an impact on which courses children take.
3) Excellent personnel — Education is an essential service and we are a people business. We are nowhere without our educators and support professionals. It is impossible to compensate teachers as highly as they should be, but the board, administration and our employees have a shared interest in doing all we can through policy and compensation to make education an attractive profession in Park City. Looking at the past two contracts with our employees, the board has made the two largest increases in our district’s history with the most recent contract raising wages for educators between 18-24%.
The decision to return to in-person learning was the most difficult choice that the board has had to make in the past four years. The justified concern from stakeholders necessitated a level of planning and implementation unlike anything the district has ever faced. What is important is 90% of families elected to come back in person — this is an overwhelming majority. The board this past week met to respond to a request from teachers at the high school to offer more time to plan and interact with remote learners. We recommended that administration make Friday a half day for secondary learners and we will continue to work with educators to further adjust scheduling as needed.
We should all be proud of the work done and be optimistic about the future of education in Park City. What we need as a community is positivity, respect and the understanding that everyone at PCSD is doing their best. Board members are volunteer elected officials and we are doing our best to represent our community.
For those in the community who feel I was rude in response to the conversation about reopening, I apologize sincerely. As stated earlier, reopening the schools was a very difficult decision and two months on, we know it was the right move every time we go to a school and see children laughing with their friends and wearing smiles behind their colorful masks.
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