There has been a lot of talk about the Park City School District’s master plan that includes the realignment of grades, building a new school for 5th and 6th graders on the Ecker Hill Middle School campus, and adding on to the high school. The Park City School Board is proposing a bond for $56 million to pay for these and other improvements included in the master plan. In November we will have the opportunity to vote for or against this bond.
I personally very much support the bond and hope it will pass. There are a lot of things I like about the school district’s master plan, but what has me really excited is the prospect of building a school that will house the 5th and 6th graders. I feel very strongly that 5th and 6th graders belong together developmentally and that those students will greatly benefit from being in the same school together. I never really understood how much 5th and 6th graders belong together until about a year ago. I’ve been a substitute teacher at Jeremy Ranch Elementary for seven years, primarily in 3rd 5th grade. Last school year I began substituting at Ecker Hill Middle School and found that 6th graders and 7th graders are not a good pairing. Not only is 6th grade considered part of elementary school and 7th grade part of middle school in the state of Utah, which makes programming and staffing more complicated, but the kids in the two grades are also very different from one another. Developmentally, I found 6th graders to have a whole lot more in common with the 5th graders than the 7th graders. So in my opinion, putting the 5th and 6th graders into one school together is a great idea.
I know some parents are apprehensive about their 5th graders no longer being at the elementary school they’ve been attending. In my experience as a substitute teacher, part way through the school year those 5th graders are itching to move on and looking forward to leaving the younger students behind. I’ve also found that some kids have trouble finding the right friends at their elementary school. However, once they are in school with students from all over the district, they meet so many more kids and forge new friendships. integrating the students in our district in 5th grade instead of 6th grade like we currently do, we can give them the opportunity a year earlier to meet new kids and form solid friendships.
While I’m excited about the idea of 5th and 6th graders being in one school together, it’s not the only thing I like about the master plan. I also like the idea of integrating 9th grade back into the High School and eliminating the need of over 300 kids walking between Treasure Mountain and the High School every day and allowing those 9th graders to properly participate in the high school experience. And I like having the 8th graders at the Ecker Hill campus so that four grades will be at that campus, making it so that our kids in essence only have to attend three schools instead of four during their school years. One less transition is a very good thing.
Overall, I believe the school district’s master plan is a good plan and the proposed $56 million bond is a good way to generate the necessary funds. But whether or not you agree, please come and cast your vote in November. Be part of the decision making process by voting either for or against the proposed bond.