Guest editorial: Anti-bond group’s claims don’t hold up
For those getting in late on discussions on the proposed school bond, here are some facts.
Claim: The School Board doesn’t have detailed construction plans for the projects.
Fact: True. Like any other bond issue, preliminary plans were made prior to spending money on final designs. The school board needs to determine the size of the bond first using a generalized plan and conservative numbers, before details should be finalized. Otherwise the board would have spent a very large sum on design details which may never come to fruition.
Details: The bond ballot measure says: It provides authority to the school board to issue a bond of $56 million over the next 20 years. Everything is moving according to plan with due process.
Claim: If the School Bond Measure fails, tax implications will be significantly higher.
Fact: True. The school expansion needs to occur; the district growth rate has been more than 10 percent over the past 10 years, schools have maxed out on space and kids are going to class in trailers at Trailside. If the bond fails Park City homeowners will likely incur a tax levy that will cost more than the bond. The board will need to re-evaluate the timing of the projects and have to look at the tax levy to fund construction. (Instead of a tax increase of about $120 per $639,000 in primary assessed home value under a bond, a straight tax levy will assess $350-$600 depending on how much they take out and over what time period.)
Claim: The process was rushed.
Fact: The bond has been one of the most discussed issues in school history. The first meetings occurred one year ago and there have been weekly multi-hour meetings; three community workshops; at least eight town halls and staff meetings. During the process; teachers, administrators, citizens, board members, architects, city planners, and many others were involved.
Claim: Treasure Mountain Junior High will be torn down and replaced with an athletic complex.
Fact: Yes, a field house will likely be built in its place but won’t be limited to athletics. Park City athletic organizations have been lobbying for an indoor field for nearly a decade. As the population has grown, so has demand for fields. More than 2,000 Park City kids participate in field sports and teams often have to drive to Salt Lake to use indoor facilities (soccer and lacrosse alone spend nearly $50,000 per year for time). The indoor facility will not cater to sports teams. It will provide space for school assemblies and for PE classes, marching band, performing arts, graduation if needed and community events.
A school-directed field house is long overdue. Waiting for a cooperative plan with Basin Recreation is completely unrealistic.
Claim: Building a 5th/6th grade school on the Ecker Hill Middle School campus is too far away.
Fact: The Ecker Campus is only 8 miles from Park City High School and nearly 75 percent of the Park City School District population lives on the "Ecker side." From an efficiency standpoint, the new middle school is fiscally prudent.
Details: Creating K-6 community schools sounds nice but isn’t realistic. Most elementary students in our district don’t walk or ride to school, they take buses or are driven. An upper elementary and middle school co-located at Ecker serves the majority of our population.
The school bond is timely, well-reasoned and critical to the future of our schools. The opposition to this matter has built a case largely on untruths. Many of the people opposed live next to campus. They are a vocal minority who simply seem to not want this "in their backyard." Most opposing claims have been baseless and often untrue.
Park City School District’s facilities are lagging. Our students and community deserve facilities we can be proud of. Vote Yes on Prop 1 and let’s do this right.
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.