Recent PCHS Graduate Awarded $10,000 Scholarship

Mellissa Mellin, a 2018 Park City High graduate, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship at the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Luncheon held at the Capitol Rotunda today, June 20.

Mellin was one of 34 students recognized for her academic achievements, demonstrated leadership, and commitment to community service. She has been accepted to Westminster College where she plans t0 study political science.

Scholarships were awarded by the Comcast Foundation and ranged from $1,000 to $10,000. Mellin was the only student to receive the $10,000 award. This year she served as co-president of Latinos in Action at PCHS. Her two sisters attended the luncheon with her as well as PCHS Interim Principal Kathleen Einhorn.

The Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program is a nomination-based award, and one student per school is nominated by their principal or guidance counselor.

Board Meeting Summary

June 19, 2018 | Regular Session

Consent Items

There was not a quorum of board members present at the meeting so  consent items could not be approved. The board is holding a Special Regular Session on Thursday, June 22, at 6 p.m. to approve consent items, review policies for posting and approval, and vote on the FY18 Revised Budget and the FY19 Preliminary Budget.

Student Report

School board student representative Steven Mitchell said he plans to poll students this fall on topics the board is discussing so he can accurately reflect student opinions.

Communications Report

Communications Director Melinda Colton reported PCSD Chat will be used this summer to keep Summer School parents updated. She said traffic on the district’s social media channels continues to increase and she is posting frequently throughout the summer months. Facebook followers increased by 37 percent last month and page views increased by 49 percent. Colton is participating in a virtual Social Media Camp next week to stay current in the latest education trends around using social media as a key communications tool.

Superintendent Report

Interim Superintendent David Gomez thanked Colton for providing clear communications on some of the sensitive issues that recently occurred. He reported that he talks with incoming Superintendent Jill Gildea weekly and should know her timeline for arriving in Park City in the coming weeks. Superintendent Gomez also reported the district had a large pool of candidates for the new secondary assistant principal positions, which included a 50/50 mix of internal and external candidates.

Proposed SR 248 Tunnel

Julia Collins, Senior Transportation Planner for Park City, and Rob Sunderlage, an associate with Horrocks Engineers, reviewed three design options for a proposed pedestrian and bike tunnel planned under SR 248. The tunnel would run from the intersection of Comstock Drive and Kearns Boulevard to the Park City High campus. Collins said the tunnel will provide for a higher level of safety and connectivity for students as well as the community at-large, and will improve the overall delay and vehicle congestion on Kearns Boulevard. She aid the city has conducted a SR2 48 corridor improvement study, gathered community input, collaborated with UDOT, the LDS Seminary, and area residents, completed traffic analysis, and continues ongoing discussions with the school district.

Board Vice President JJ Ehlers said she will poll the board this week to determine their preferred option. Ehlers also asked the city to look into the feasibility of adding electric charging stations during the construction process of the tunnel.

City officials will meet with the board again in August to request easements and review the memo of understanding. Park City plans to finalize the design this summer, with construction commencing in Spring 2019.

Public Comment

  • Micaela Carriel, a social studies teacher at Park City High and the women’s soccer coach, expressed appreciation to the board for adding 30 paid days to its maternity leave. She said it makes her feel valued as an educator. She asked the board to review the wording so teachers who are expecting during Summer or Winter Recess can take their maternity leave from their contracted days.
  • Melissa Perry, a math teacher at Park City High, thanked the board for its consideration of offering 30 paid days to the district’s maternity leave for mothers and fathers. She said it will help reduce the financial burden on teachers.

Budget Hearing

The board will meet Thursday, June 21, to vote on the FY18 Revised Budget, and the FY19 Preliminary Budget.

Budget Hearing Public Comment  

Jim Tedford, a retired teacher and community member, said given the city and county tax increases, he has concerns about the budget and proposed tax increase from the school district. He questioned why the board is hiring three more assistant principals at its secondary schools. He also expressed concern about the salary and benefits the board is paying the new Superintendent.

Board Meeting Summary

June 5, 2018 | Special Regular Session

FY19 Budget Discussion

The board continued its discussion of the FY19 budget, including the addition of two special education teachers for elementary schools, one additional transition teacher for post high schools students with mild/moderate disabilities, the cost of the classified job study recommendations, and the elimination of some student fees.

Two Additional Special Education Teachers: Interim Principal David Gomez shared data that illustrates significant gains academically when there are additional specialized personnel helping special education students. Special education teachers also require additional time for professional development for better alignment with general ed teachers and interventionists. The teachers current caseloads do not allow them to provide the kind of one-on-one instruction they would like to give to their students. Additionally, a new law requires more accountability from school districts to show that special education students are making progress.

One Additional Transition Teacher: The board agreed to not fund the transition teacher position for post high school in this budget but will use the coming year to find out the needs of students and parents for such a program.

Classified Job Study: Business Administrator Todd Hauber said 29 employees are impacted by the district’s recent review and salary study of classified positions.

Elimination of Student Fees: The board affirms that a public education should be free to the patrons of the school district and that barriers to public education should be removed wherever possible. In that effort, the school board has waived the fee requirements for mandatory and academic fees for the 2018-19 school year. Hauber presented the board with a list of discontinued students fees in the amount of $691,900 was presented to board.  The board’s action is not a categorical waiver of all fees. Fees subject to this action include fees for elective courses and general education expenses. This action does not extend, at this time, to extracurricular fees and other fees for activities conducted outside the normal hours of the school day. In all cases, remaining school fees are subject to State law and district waiver policy. Hauber recommended the rental of musical instruments remain with the families this coming school year while the district spends the year learning more about how best to manage instruments at its secondary schools.

Board Compensation

Board member Petra Butler recommended increase the board’s compensation by $7,000. She said the board does a tremendous amount of work and said the additional compensation will attract more people to run for the board. Board President Andrew Caplan said a study was completed a few years ago on board compensation. The board will review the study.

Safety Update

Interim Superintendent Gomez said the fencing materials have been ordered and work will begin on Monday. Work will also begin Monday on the elementary schools’ entryways and the additional items that have been added to the architectural plans. A districtwide visitor management system has been purchased and will be tested in the district’s summer school programs over the next few months. He said he is keeping the new superintendent, Dr. Jill Gildea, updated on the safety projects underway and they will be creating contingency plans, in the event that a project is not complete before school starts this fall.

Leadership Training

Maryann Billington with the Action Leadership Group based in Salt Lake City facilitated training for board members

PCSD Community Education Offers Fun Adventures This Summer

There’s more to summer than video games or sheer boredom. With more than 100 class offerings, students can experience a fun and educational summer thanks to the district’s Community Education program.

“During the summer, we concentrate on programs for youths and teens, said Jane Toly, Leisure Living coordinator. “We’ll have many more adult classes in the fall, starting in late September.”

For preschool-aged children, there are offerings such as Animal Safari, Art, Diggin’ Dinosaurs Jr., Kids Yoga, and Bubbles & Water Science Fun.

For elementary students there is Beginning Chess, Drawing & Painting, Cartoonpalooza, Movie Star Camp, Cooking, Science, Digital Moviemaking, Lego Robotics, and much more.

Some classes begin next week. For a complete listing of summer offerings, view The Compass here.

Click here to register online or call Jane Toly at 435-615-0215.

Summer School Online Registration Now Open

Summer is a great break from school but not a great break from learning. That’s why Park City School District is excited to offer Summer School again this year for students in grades 1-8, starting June 18. Online registration is now open.

This is the first summer the district is offer sessions for students going in to grades 7 and 8.  Secondary Summer School will be based on project learning with field trips to the Egyptian Theater, and enjoying activities such as yoga, hiking, paddle boarding, street art, break dancing, and art. Students will also take part in service projects.

The secondary Summer School, held at Treasure Mountain Junior High, runs June 18-July 12, Monday through Thursday. The elementary Summer School, held at McPolin Elementary, runs June 18-July 26, Monday through Thursday.  Cost is $100 and includes breakfast and lunch.

Summer School provides social, cultural and academic benefits, according to Todd Klarich, director of Community Education for PCSD. “We provide a safe, healthy and engaging environment for all students to reduce the impact of the summer slide,” he said. “And we provide opportunities for students to build self esteem, independence, and problem-solving skills while participating in hands-on activities in our community.”

Online registration is available here.

Board Selects Dr. Jill Gildea as Superintendent

Dr. Jill Gildea

After conducting an extensive national search, the Park City School District Board of Education has selected Dr. Jill Gildea as Superintendent. The Board voted today to appoint Dr. Gildea, an experienced educator with demonstrated success in enhancing family and community engagement, in improving student achievement, inspiring innovative learning environments, and demonstrating effective fiscal management.

Dr. Gildea is currently the Superintendent of Greenwich Public Schools in Connecticut and brings three decades of education experience to Park City. She has a proven track record in managing school districts using data-driven decisions and sound fiscal practices, working collaboratively with staff and parent groups, as well as with local township governments to fund educational needs.

She is known as a student-centered and future-focused educator who keeps students at the center of all decisions. She has been a Superintendent for 11 years, assistant superintendent, educational programs director, curriculum director, high school division administrator, elementary principal, and has taught at the middle and high school levels.

“Her experience as a Superintendent both in the Chicago area and in Greenwich will bring valuable intellectual capital to our district,” said Board President Andrew Caplan. “Her history of helping children succeed academically, socially, and emotionally stood out to the board and made her our first choice for this position. The board looks forward to welcoming Dr. Gildea to our community this summer and we are excited to support her leadership in the coming months and years ahead.”

Dr. Gildea exemplifies the qualities the community identified as those they would like to see in the next Superintendent, and was a top choice for the the 12-member community committee that interviewed candidates.

President Caplan said Dr. Gildea impressed the Board as a strong educational practitioner and thought-leader, well-versed in the national conversation on public education. She values the mission and vision of the Park City School District with its focus on inspiring and supporting all students equitably to achieve their academic and social potential. She has a keen understanding of what it takes to manage systemic change in order to achieve student growth and improve performance, create a master plan for facilities and managerial systems, and to enhance communications and family and community engagement.

“I’m honored to join the Park City School District and to work collectively on the important visionary and strategic work of an exemplary system,” Dr. Gildea said. “From my perspective in visiting other districts across the country through my work with a variety of national organizations, I believe that Park City School District keeps its students at the center of key decisions, and models whole child practice. The District is well poised as a leader not only in Utah, but in the nation. I look forward to joining this talented and dedicated team.”

An award-winning and published educator, Dr. Gildea has been recognized as an exemplary educational leader and for her work in communications and fiscal management. She has worked with implementation of a future-focused strategic plan, master facility planning, and scaling innovative practices.

She has received numerous honors and accolades including: 2014 Finalist for the National Association of School Superintendents’ Superintendent of the Year Award, the National School Public Relations Association 2013 Golden Achievement Award in Communications, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials’ Meritorious Budget Awards in Financial Budgeting for six years running.

Dr. Gildea earned her Doctorate in curriculum and supervision from Northern Illinois University, her Master of Education in language and literacy, and her superintendent’s endorsement from National Louis University, and her Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education from Bradley University.

Community Members Needed for Master Planning Steering Committee

Park City School District is soliciting interested community members to be a part of its master planning steering committee. The district is seeking a diverse stakeholder group representation as part of this committee.

The district has retained NV5 as its owner representative for the master planning process.  An executive committee has been formed and is now in the process of  building a steering committee that ensures all stakeholder groups have a voice and the opportunity to be involved in this longterm planning process.

Those interested are invited to complete the steering committee application is below.

Steering Committee Application (English)

Steering Committee Application (Spanish)

Deadline for applications is June 7 at 3 p.m. The steering committee will not begin meeting until August.

Please complete the application and return it to Park City School District Office, 2700 Kearns Boulevard, (Attention: Todd Hauber) or email it directly to NV5 at desi.navarro@nv5.com.

13 Ways to Connect with Your Teenager

By Dr. Ben Belnap | Licensed Psychologist | Associate Superintendent of Student Wellness, Park City School District

Here are “13 Ways to Connect With Your Teenager.”

Show interest in your teenager: They don’t want to talk? They’d rather just sit and watch Netflix? Instead of telling them to shut the TV off, sit down with them. Ask them about their show. Be interested. Don’t expect them to take interest in you or openly share their feelings (e.g. family dinner discussions). They won’t meet you halfway. You’re going to have to start by meeting them where they are

Use accurate reflection in your interactions: You might say something like, “Okay, so if I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying you can’t trust Olivia because she talks about you behind your back. Is that right?” If it’s right, tell them what a horrible feeling that must be. If it’s not right, ask them to clarify. Don’t seek a solution. Just ask and try to understand. It really does help. You can trust me…unlike that filthy liar, Olivia.

Empathize: Try to imagine what your teen could be feeling. Dig deep into the recesses of the adolescent brain you once had. Look at it the way your adolescent brain would have looked at it. You might actually remember and relate. This helps you avoid that ever-present black hole of parenting: “This is just temporary.” “You’ll look back on this in just a few months and laugh.” “You’ll be better in the end for having gone through it.” It may be true. But remember when your parents said stuff like that to you? You didn’t believe them. You thought they were annoying. You swore you’d never say that to your kids. Think like an adolescent. Don’t get sucked into the black hole.

Remind them it’s temporary (without telling them it’s temporary): Help link their feelings or behaviors to events. You might say something like, “Since you are on the debate team, taking 2 AP courses, and working 15 hours a week, I understand why you’re feeling so overwhelmed right now.” This seems obvious, but when we are overwhelmed by the emotion of an experience, we have a hard time connecting the dots as to why we are so emotionally wound up. This exercise helps your teen to engage the logical/rational mind by connecting the proverbial dots for them. When we logically connect the dots about our emotional experience, it helps us to understand that our distress is connected to an episode. It helps us understand that the distress is temporary; not permanent.

Communicate that you believe your teen’s behavior and/or feelings are reasonable: If your teen is isolating or refusing to go out, you might say, “Since your friends have bailed on you, I can see why you’re hesitant to try to hang out with new people. It makes sense to me why you would want to be by yourself. I am sorry you’re feeling this way. What an awful feeling.” Leave it there. Don’t offer a “…but you still need to…” Leave it alone. The connection is better received than the perfect life-changing lesson you think you have prepared.

Treat your teen as a valid human being: Be genuine. Recognize that they are seeking a solution to feel better, however ridiculous or irrational that solution might be. Nothing is more disingenuous than, “I understand that must be hard for you, but…” Stop it. Your teen is a human being with real human being emotions. Seems obvious, but so many parents forget it. Don’t forget it.

Empower them to solve their own problems: This happens not by telling them to solve their own problems. Rather, this happens by listening, asking sincere information-seeking questions, and eventually saying something like, “Wow. What a tough situation. What do you think you should do about it, and how can I support you?” If they offer a terrible plan—or even a great plan—ask, “Okay. So what do you think would happen?” Or, “How do you think that might solve your problem or make you feel better?” This empowers a teen. This helps them to learn that they can solve their own problems. It also communicates that you trust them to solve their own problems.

Go through old photo albums together: Remind them of core characteristics and attributes they had when they were younger. When looking at an old picture of them, ask them what they think the little boy or girl in the picture expected to accomplish in their lives at that time? Share funny or nostalgic memories from those days. Remind them that the little boy or girl in that picture is still inside of the teen. Remind your teen how much you loved them back then and how much you still love them.

Focus on the emotion; not the behavior: When your teen does something impulsive or acts out, replace “Why did you do that?” with “It seems like you’re really upset. How are you feeling?” They may not immediately respond, but if you continue to do this with sincerity, they will come to understand that you care for them as an individual and are concerned about their feelings regardless of their behaviors.

Ask them to make you a playlist. Listen to it. Give them feedback: Look, no one said parenting would be easy. This is a prime example. You don’t want to do it, but music is one of the primary methods teenagers use to connect. My own dad once told me in passing that he thought Rivers Cuomo from Weezer had a cool voice. He probably doesn’t remember this at all, but it meant the world to me to hear him say that when I was 16 years old. If you show interest in their music and actually listen to their playlist, you are telling them you are interested in them. You are interested in their emotional experiences. You care about them. This eventually leads to emotional connection and opens the door for open and honest communication. Just try it.

Service: Reaching out to others puts problems in perspective. Service gives a sense of meaning and purpose. Clear back in 1896, Mark Twain said, “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” It’s as true today as it was then. They will complain. They will protest. Offer them big rewards and drag them to go serve somewhere with you anyway. It pays huge dividends down the road!

Foster passion: A common characteristic between individuals with major depression is a loss of passion about something in their lives. What is your teen passionate about? What did he/she used to be passionate about, but lost it somewhere along the way? Find it. Foster it. Watch a movie about that subject with them. Take them to the library to read about it. Do an internet search with them. Whatever you need to do, do it. Passion drives purpose, which drives resilience.

Praise effort: When you see your teen trying to cope with his/her struggles, praise that effort. Don’t worry about how successful they are; praise the process. Focus on how far they have come since whenever. Focus on how hard they are trying. Let them know how much you respect and look up to them for their efforts. Even if the effort is minimal, make a big deal about it. Leave out the negating follow-up temptation of, “Imagine if you fully applied yourself how much better you’d be doing.” Just stop at the praise part. If you do this, they will come to you for advice. And when they come to you, they will actually listen and appreciate your feedback.

High School Implementing ‘Homeroom’ for 2018-19 School Year

Park City High School is implementing homeroom for students next year in an effort to provide a space for students to reflect and grow socially and emotionally, and develop authentic relationships with their peers and teachers.

Homeroom, which is required for all students, will be held 35 minutes during second period every Monday. Students will not be graded but will receive credit for attendance and participation. Students will be randomly assigned by Powerschool to homeroom and classes will consist of students in grades 10-12.

“Two years ago, students proposed the idea with the intent of reducing student stress, increasing academic engagement, providing greater student support, and creating a greater school community,” said Interim Principal Kathleen Einhorn. “Over the course of the past two years, our Leadership Team has examined various curricula and best practices to best meet the needs of all of our students. Research shows that students who have a greater school connection and consistent time to reflect are better prepared for success beyond high school.”

Homeroom will consists of activities such as YouSchool topics, study skills building, counseling curriculum, school culture building, and class competitions.

PCHS counselors will educate students about stress management, bullying, test-taking strategies, mental health, and substance abuse. Parents will be informed on the topics being discussed so they can continue the conversations at home with their students.

Einhorn also noted that the most recent visit from the AdvancEd accreditation team suggested the school improve upon its systemic student-teacher connections. PCHS is also using homeroom to  satisfy the Federal and State mandates around Social and Emotional Learning.

“The high school’s new principal, Roger Arbabi, has been included in the implementation of homeroom and is excited to see how homeroom improves students’ relationships with not only their teachers but also other students,” Einhorn said.

Board Meeting Summary

May 15, 2018|  Regular Session

Superintendent Report

Interim Superintendent David Gomez reported on the Front Line Blue Line event held Monday night at Ecker Hill Middle School. The evening was presented by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with the school district and Communities That Care. Nearly 400 parents attended and learned about drugs and online safety. A Resource Fair was also available for parents to visit with representatives from various community agencies.

Communications Report

Communications Director Melinda Colton said the district’s Facebook page numbers continue to grow and last month reached nearly 12,000 people (an increase of 33% from the previous month). She also reminded the board that all news coverage about the district can be found in the Newsroom.

PCEA Report

PCEA Co-President Ben Kahn said PCEA has appreciated the Administration and board seeking its input about the new educator evaluation policy. He also asked why additional assistant principals at secondary schools are needed and what their responsibilities would include.

PCCEA Report

President Colleen Mutcher introduced Conde Ponce, a custodian at Park City High, who was honored last month as the Utah School Employee Association’s winner in the custodian category. Mutcher also told the board this was her last meeting since she was retiring at the end of this school year. She thanked the board for its continued support of classified employees.

New Student Representative Introduced

Park City High junior Steven Mitchell was introduced as the new student representative on the board. Board Vice President JJ Ehlers will work with Mitchell this summer looking at ways the board can improve its dialogue with students and get their input on the issues impacting them.  

Master Planning Update

The district has hired NV5 as its owner representative for the district’s master planning process. An executive committee has been formed and is in the process of creating a master planning steering committee comprised of members of the community. The application process seeking volunteers for that committee will be published shortly. The executive committee is also in the final stages of reviewing the RFP for a master planner.

Critically Conscious Teaching Overview

Meghan Zarnetske, a teacher at Treasure Mountain Junior High, presented information regarding the Critically Conscious Teaching cohort this year.  Its goal has been to increase collective understanding of social identities and to provide a safer and more inclusive school district for all. The cohort has met twice a month to discuss issues surrounding race, culture, gender, sexuality and how to facilitate conversations in classrooms to “normalize” marginalized groups. Three teachers in the cohort addressed the board and said the training has made significant impacts on them and the way the teach and interact with their students. Board President Andrew Caplan offered the board’s full support of the program and its goal to increase the program next year to 40 teachers. Student representative Mitchell said in the past few years he has seen a notable difference in the ways students are more accepting of each other. He expressed appreciation to the teachers for the work they do in merging beliefs and creating a more effective learning environment for everyone. 

FY19 Budget Discussion

The board requested additional information and data on the following FY19 budget considerations:

–Special assignment contract rate adjustment: In the past, the District has followed administrative guidance and practice for various types of work.  Business Administrator Hauber is recommending the district use the teachers’ base salary daily rate. 

–Substitute pay increase: The district is experiencing a shortage in substitutes. Improving pay will help alleviate some of the pressures experienced in filling assignments. There will also be an economic advantage for those subbing on Mondays and Fridays.

–Job study: Following a classification and market study of 60 positions in the district, the study recommends title and lane changes to 11 positions.

–Three assistant principals at secondary schools: The addition of one assistant principal at Park City High, Treasure Mountain Junior High, and Ecker Hill Middle School will bring the ratio of administrators to students more in line with the Utah ratio. Principals also need additional administrators in their buildings to help with licensed evaluations, assist with the 22 UHSAA and club sports, 37 school clubs, student supervision, safety, student wellness, discipline, evening and weekend activities, increase in 504s, and parent communication.

–Four elementary interventionists: An additional interventionist at each elementary school would provide much-needed time and support for struggling students. This will provide more personalized services to the students who need it the most. Schools will develop a plan that will be evaluated by a district team prior to the allocation of the interventionist.

School Safety Report

Board President Caplan asked that the principals reach out to their community liaisons and let them know about the compromise solutions on fences. Interim Superintendent Gomez told the board the district is posting the opening for a full-time Safety Coordinator to oversee and safety and security measure districtwide.

Public Comment

Laura Rojas, a parent from McPolin Elementary representing the PTO, expressed frustration with the district’s lack of direction and delayed timeline on safety improvements at the schools. She said appropriate safety measures are virtually non existent until the lobby remodel is complete. Board President Caplan acknowledged the board’s disappointment in the delay of safety projects. He said students are their No. 1 priority and anticipates all the safety measures will be in place by the start of the new school year.

Cell Phone Tower Update

As per Policy 6000, Modification to School District Property, the board approved structural changes at the high school, subject to an acceptable lease agreement for a proposed cell phone tower.

Policies for Posting

–Policy 7085: Employing Licensed Staff

–Policy 7110: Resignations

Policies Approved

–Policy 10021: Dropout Prevention and Recovery

–Policy 11000: Family Education Rights and Privacy