Letters, May 26-28: Park City School District must invest in the arts
District must invest in the arts
It’s been a hard school year for everyone: students, parents, teachers and administrators. The pandemic brought with it difficult decisions, adjustments and sacrifices. While one cannot imagine the weight that went into these decisions, a school district that has a stated vision of “focus and emphasis on the whole child” cannot afford cuts to music education.
Music and the arts are invaluable in providing the social and emotional learning our kids need right now. Many are still only beginning to return to in-person classes, have suffered trauma over the past year and need a place that can provide healing that will positively impact their other academic classes. Students in music classrooms are regularly taught collaboration, self-regulation, self-awareness and decision making. Research also suggests that experiences in the arts contribute to a fully functioning brain and body. Creating music and art is not a luxury for the elite, but a need for all students.
Budget cuts are common in education, and when working with a limited budget, cuts invariably must be made. The district may save money by doubling the workload for one teacher, but will settle for a lower-quality product in the programs that are now only receiving partial attention. This is particularly true for specialized music educators, many of whom train as experts in their instrument. Without quality programs led by skilled instructors, students may give up on their gifts prematurely, missing out on the social-emotional, whole-child education desired, or worse, suffer permanent physical damage due to uniformed teaching.
Districts that excel in the arts are those that are devoted to art education, deeming the long-term benefit worth the financial commitment. If Park City wants to continue to be competitive, it needs to consider art as a priority for its students, giving them the highest quality music and arts education possible.
This may be the best Park City can do with its current budget, but let us acknowledge the consequences to such a decision. The arts and music matter: to this community, and to its kids. We mourn this loss, as our students will receive a little less of a complete education next year.
Park City High School choir director
Students need a break
It’s crazy to me that the school board is forging forward with a $150 million expansion project on the heels of COVID. In the Park Record article I just read, students will have to deal with construction noise, “temporary learning facilities” (another name for trailers), entrance issues, and other general construction issues. Essentially they will be going to school in a construction zone.
While I realize that we do need to expand the schools, I think the kids need a break. They are going to be traumatized after a year of dealing with the pandemic craziness. Being exposed to a potentially killer virus, remote learning, mandatory COVID testing, being pulled in and out of class, wearing masks, getting the vaccine and other mental stressors to years of building construction. It’s just not fair to them.
I feel like the school board really isn’t taking into consideration the students’ well-being. I’m betting that most of you don’t remember the high school remodel, but it wasn’t pretty.
On a related note, construction costs are at an all-time high. Because of COVID, resources are in high demand, many of the plants in the U.S. have been closed down or are operating at reduced capacity. We are also limited on international supplies, supply containers are sitting in the ocean because there are not enough workers to get the ships unloaded. We have a limited amount of construction labor because there are so many large jobs going on in our area. All of these factors are pushing prices up and with the school board’s race to expand, we will all pay for it.
We are putting unnecessary strain on our kids, our community and ourselves. Let’s take this year, regroup, let the kids take a breath and let the part-timers move back to their permanent homes, all the while figuring out a plan that makes the most amount of sense.
Policy not what’s best for teachers or their kids
I am writing in support of Saturday’s guest editorial by my Parley’s Park Elementary colleague Sarah Altschuler. Sarah addressed a harmful and capricious change to Park City School District Policy 10010: student enrollment. In January, district administration modified the policy so that students of teachers who live outside a school’s zone are no longer automatically allowed to attend the school at which their parent teaches.
Administration representatives have said no teachers’ children have been denied, but this is categorically false: Over a dozen teachers and support staff have received denial or waitlist letters.
This policy is plainly anti-family. Two of the hardest things about being a working parent are managing logistics and finding enough time to spend with your kids. Allowing children and parents to go to the same school alleviates both issues. I am a teacher’s aide at Parley’s Park and mother of two Parley’s students. Driving or biking to school together reduces stress, provides a few precious moments of quality time and takes another car off the road.
The practice of separating teachers from their own children will drive out teachers; I can only hope this is not the administration’s underlying desire. More established teachers tend to be more expensive and better able to collectively organize. Is this the goal of the policy — to create a more transient, less invested, cheaper workforce?
This policy is already having negative effects: Several teachers have transferred to other PCSD schools or taken jobs outside the district. To arrest the implementation of this misplaced policy, please email PCSD-Board@pcsd.us to request a separate meeting. We need to preserve one of our best tools for recruiting and retaining good teachers.
Elizabeth Quinn Fregulia
Foundation continues to step up
I have been fortunate to live and teach here in Park City for almost 31 years now and one thing that has been a constant, reliable support is the Park City Education Foundation! This was proven yet again with Saturday’s fun event, Running With Ed.
It was SO wonderful to be outside with our colleagues and supportive parents this past Saturday for a modified event. Everyone in the Park City School District has worked especially hard this year to be “in school” with our students, and by the PCEF recognizing EVERY staff member both on the banners on Main Street and in front of each school, they have once again shown their support.
Their staff is passionate and caring. Abby McNulty, Jennifer Billow, Kara Cody and Heidi Donovan are an amazing team that works tirelessly to add so much to the Park City School District! Through their dedication as well as that of their board of directors and school ambassadors, numerous grants provide our students with more robust opportunities to learn and thrive in this community as well as their respect and care for the PCSD staff.
Park City School District preschool director
Bring back Main Street Trolley
The “Summer Transit Service Update” that will be presented to the Park City Council on Thursday as an “Informational” item states “The [Main Street] Trolley will remain out of service this season due to budget constraints.”
Service reductions were understandable in 2020. Now that we are showing strong recovery, why are they still in effect?
Per the city, and with three months to go in FY21, our Transportation Fund shows $7,694,649 of tax revenue. Compared to the FY19 (pre-pandemic) amount through this same period of $5,287,782, it makes one wonder why we can’t figure out a way to get the Main Street Trolley running again through the expected busy summer.
The Main Street Trolley is a unique service that provides many benefits to our community. I remember how excited I was as a kid whenever I had the chance to ride the Trolley, and if I was really lucky, I even got to ring the bell. The joy it brings tourists and locals is remarkable. Fond memories aside, it provides an important service for those who have a hard time walking up steep Main Street to visit our shops and restaurants. This is especially true in our high-altitude environment. The Trolley also provides a connection to the Main Street transit hub, which isn’t so close to the far ends of Main Street.
Let’s not take things away that make Park City special and walk the walk regarding our four community pillars represented in the city’s newly adopted “SEAT” acronym. Additionally, the transfer of county service to High Valley Transit should allow us more focus on service within the city.
If we are serious about “E”nvironmental Leadership, preserving our “A”uthentic Local Culture, and “T”ransportation Innovation (moving to a car-optional environment — arguably also related to “S”ocial Equity and Affordability), bring back the Main Street Trolley!
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