Letters: School district must tighten its belt in light of the pandemic
School district must tighten its belt
The proposals for school facility improvements in Park City couldn’t have come at a less opportune time. With many of our businesses shut down or severely limited, it is hard to know what the future holds for our friends and neighbors who are financially suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. We don’t know when things in our community will get back to normal, and the uncertainty caused by ignorance about the virus makes it difficult to predict its continued impact on our lives, activities and businesses.
Incomes in our community are likely to be suppressed by the continuing uncertainty caused by this pandemic. Not only have many residents lost their jobs and business income, but also the fall in the stock market has reduced the financial resources of many who live here. Federal and state programs will not be sufficient to redress these losses, and these losses will have an impact on the revenue received by our local government. Accordingly, our local government and its agencies must find ways to tighten their collective belts.
Because of these problems, our school system bureaucracy needs to find ways to cut costs and to become more efficient in providing services. It is during difficult times when the best management teams show their ability. We will soon learn if our new management team for the school system is worth the high salaries that we are paying them. Here are some examples of ways to cut costs: Consolidate administrative functions so that a smaller administrative staff is utilized. There is no excuse for having homerooms of 10 or 11 students where special needs students aren’t being taught, so small homerooms should be combined. The state subsidy doesn’t come close to covering the cost of out-of-district students, so we should no longer accept such students unless their full cost is being paid. Clever and capable administrators will rise to the challenge by identifying and implementing other efficiencies.
I appreciate the need to be forward-looking when planning to provide school facilities, especially in the difficult time in which we find ourselves. Yet, any bond proposal for new facilities made now would be terribly insensitive to the current suffering of our citizens and is unlikely to pass. The Board of Education should not set up itself for failure and, instead, should postpone any bond proposal to a more propitious time.
F. Joseph Feely III
Help those who need it most
It appears that COVID-19 cases are leveling off and declining here in Summit County. It is great news that the Health Department is asking local businesses to propose protocols for restarting, hopefully in May.
In the meantime, the devastation to local businesses and those who depend upon them is beyond imagination. Sure, there are state and federal programs to provide help to both businesses and employees, but many of the most vulnerable workers will not receive any or enough help to make ends meet.
That is why many I know have wholeheartedly gotten behind The Most Vulnerable Fund with donations that go directly to keep a roof over head for those crushed by the very policy that is keeping all of us safe.
The generosity of our community has gotten the ball rolling, but we have a long way to go. As Roger Armstrong noted in a recent KPCW interview, this issue is big both for those at risk and for the community as a whole.
Please take a look at The Most Vulnerable Fund website and consider how you can help.
Stick to our own plan
Let’s be realistic here. The mere mention of the possibility of loosening stay-at-home orders in the future makes it happen today. People hear what they want to hear, and if you need evidence of that, look at the streets of Salt Lake City or Provo or St. George, where you would be challenged to find evidence a pandemic. Isolation compliance is crumbling.
Summit County is different, of course, in many ways besides our good compliance with public health orders. At great sacrifice, we have probably flattened our curve, while the rest of the state, particularly Utah County, is still working on that. It is no secret we have a community spirit and ethic that sets us well apart from the rest of the state.
So, despite publicly going along with the state’s “opening” plan, it is vitally important that our local leaders and health officials maintain Summit County’s distinctive community spirit and consensus that took us from an extreme position to a relatively good one. I had to go to Salt Lake City recently for a medical prescription, and the lack of compliance I saw there scared me. Not, not, and again not the direction Summit County should be going.
Clean up after your pets
With gyms closed due to our pandemic, I have resorted to walks exploring different areas around Park City. Predictably, receding snow reveals trash, litter and plastic bags containing dog poop. The later category never ceases to intrigue me. Do pet walkers who engage in this behavior expect a poop fairy to retrieve their deposits? Obviously they must. While this activity is regrettably common throughout our community, some areas are worse than others. In consideration based upon my walks, the Poop Fairy Award for the most “decorated” area goes to the Rossi Hill neighborhood at the intersection of Rossi Hill Drive and McHenry Avenue.
Breaking news — the Poop Fairy is a myth. Please take responsibility to clean up after your pets. Thank you.
Shout out to Sheriff’s Office
We are certainly living in strange times. The words “social distancing” had no meaning two months ago. Now we strive to keep sane as we isolate ourselves in order to protect our lives. During these uncertain times, we wonder how long it will be before we can hug our friends and we crave human contact.
Last week, my friends and I got some relief from our isolation. I was able to participate in two birthday parades where I could wave to friends at a safe distance from our cars. It brought tears to my eyes, especially when I saw the parades being escorting by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office! I’d like to give a big shout out to Lt. Andrew Wright and his staff for not only showing up for these events but for their enthusiastic, upbeat desire to make these events special for all involved. Feeling their support and encouragement for safe socialization when we feel restricted in our daily movements was a wonderful opportunity for feel connected! Thank you to Sheriff Justin Martinez for his leadership in our wonderful community.
Be a voice for animals
Thank you Park Record for your April 15 editorial saying that the isolation required to fight COVID-19 puts victims of domestic violence at even greater risk than normal. The people working at the Peace House and the Summit County Children’s Justice Center are on the front lines and deserve our deepest gratitude.
I wanted to add that another devastating effect of domestic violence is that family pets are often suffering too. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that 71% of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened, harmed or killed a family pet.
The Humane Society of the United States reports that, in a study of families under supervision for physical abuse of their children, researchers found that pet abuse had occurred in 88% of the homes.
It’s true that residents shouldn’t be shy about involving authorities if they suspect someone is in danger. As Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson said, “See it, hear it, report it.” I want to add that it’s important to remember the animals. Animals have no voice, but we can make a difference and be their voice.
If you suspect animal abuse, there is help available: Summit County Sheriff’s Office, 435-615-3600; Park City Police Department,, 435-615-5500; Summit County Animal Control has cruelty investigators at 435-336-3985.
Of course, dial 911 if you feel there is an imminent threat.
Open up Utah
Time for the media to stop broadcasting 24/7 death and destruction from COVID-19 and interviewing “experts” who are proponents of keeping this quarantine going on longer.
Time for we, the people, to do our own research and find that from the get-go many other epidemiologists were opposed to quarantine and tanking our economy — they were never heard from on our media.
Time for us to look at COVID-19 death rates compared to other outbreaks like the annual flu, H1N1 and SARS and ask why did we cause so many problems for so many and throw our country into economic chaos and much more debt.
Time to take a look at Sweden where no restrictions occurred and where they are well on the way to herd immunity, which we are not developing because of this quarantine.
Time to recognize that our health care system has been able to handle this.
Time to recognize that our rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution have been stripped away.
Time to recognize the tremendous mental health issues from this quarantine. The stress over business and personal finances, loss of jobs, not being able to see family, not having access to normal recreation and much more is as much of a problem as COVID-19.
Time to let those issuing all the restrictive orders know that we, the people, are not stupid. If a facility is open and we are not comfortable going in, we won’t. If we feel more comfortable continuing to quarantine we will. If we want to open our business in a safe way we are capable of doing that. We are smart enough to continue better health habits and distancing as needed. We are smart enough not to go to work if we are sick. We are smart enough to continue to test to help people make good decisions.
The Utah COVID-19 death rate per the number of confirmed cases is 0.99%. That number is likely high because people have not been diagnosed. The death rate for Summit County is (thankfully) 0%.
Utah wants more data — why? Our health care system has indicated it can handle a possible surge.
It’s time. It’s time to open up Utah.
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F. Joseph Feely III writes in a guest editorial that he is concerned about the “likely impact of the extreme policy positions” Democrats will pursue if they win control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.