Guest editorial: Master Planning presentation left many questions
I recently attended the Master Planning Community Presentation at Ecker Hill Middle School and left with the feeling that there are more questions than answers.
1) Why is the comprehensive 62-page master plan from 2011 being ignored? Is the document quality suspect? I don’t think so seeing how the same VCBO Architecture firm has been hired again. Has the district changed so much in four years that the plan needs to be thrown away? Why not simply tweak the numbers to reflect the current community? The 2011 master plan contains three options none include moving Dozier Field or building a new 5-6 school. Many of the options included a new ‘real’ elementary school (K-5).
2) Why does it seem like the public is being misled about school capacity? According to to the state statutory formula the current high school has around 1,100 students. But the 2011 plan says the building can accommodate 1,500 students. We are not dumb present all the data and let us come to an informed conclusion.
3) The ‘Scheme 3’ site plan presented at the community presentation was described as being the ‘overwhelming choice’ by workshop participants. I was part of the workshop. First, there was next to no discussion on a 5-6 school at Ecker at the workshops. Most discussions focused on the Kearns campus. Second, as a participant, I did not feel any scheme was overwhelmingly chosen.
4) It seems that a school with just two grade levels offers very poor granularity for future growth. Five years or more from now, how is the expected growth handled in the new 5-6 school at Ecker and existing Ecker school converted to 7-8? Would both schools need to be expanded? Do you realign such that the two schools handle 6th -8th and if so, how exactly do three grades of students get split into two schools?
5) I moved to Park City to improve my quality of life. Eliminating a 40-minute Silicon Valley commute played a big role in that improvement. The school administration’s 5-year projected growth spreadsheet shows over half of the new students coming from the McPolin sub-district. Yet the new school is proposed to be located clear across at the other end of the district. This will result in a 40 minute bus ride each way a long boring ride for such young students with minimal supervision. And what exactly are students going to do these long boring bus rides? I would say it is almost guaranteed that your 5th grader will be regularly exposed by the older kids to age inappropriate media such as internet porn, violent video games and adult content Youtube videos. Smart parents and are going to see this problem and will drive their kids to school if they have the wherewithal to do so, thus exacerbating traffic issues. And the answer given by the school administration as to an advantage for having the school located far from the students? The school district gets more money from the state for reimbursing bussing costs. A dubious tradeoff at best in my opinion.
6) Not enough thought has been put into school expansions and construction to give the public or school board enough information to make a decision. The current high school has a one-story wing next to Dozier Field. Can’t it be changed to two levels with a south bump-out instead of relocating Dozier? At Ecker, the site plan shows a new 5-6 school located across a parking lot from the existing school and the administration talks about sharing resources between the two schools. VCBO stated the 5-6 building shown on the plans is a footprint of a comparably sized school they recently designed and in no way reflects the actual building. How are voters suppose form an opinion on a large bond when the presented plan is not a real plan?