Learning Academy Focused on Personalized, Project-Based Learning

The Park City Learning Academy has not only changed its name, it has changed the way its students are learning.

The Academy provides Park City High students with an alternative setting for core class instruction in English, math, social studies and science. Elective are taken at the high school.

“The PCLA is a setting for students looking for smaller class sizes, personalized and project-based learning, and an adult mentor to support,” said Principal Tracy Sjostrom.

The PCLA is open to any future 10th-, 11th-, or 12th-grade students “who want to be part of a close-knit group of students and staff focusing on social emotional well-being and academic achievement,” Sjostrom said.

Students can register for the PCLA by picking up an application at Treasure Mountain Junior High or the Academy. Summit Learning is a personalized approach to teaching and learning.

Sjostrom said Summit Learning combines core values, what science tells on how students learn best, and cutting-edge research into a school experience that is tailored to community needs.

The three pillars to the student experience at the Academy are 1) project-based learning where students work alongside teachers and classmates on real-world projects; 2) one-on-one mentoring; and 3) individualized pathways that empower students to set goals and understand content in a way that is best for them.

“We offer exploratory field trips, positive supports, and added encouragement. Students do not fall through the cracks,” Sjostrom said.

Feb. 14 Information Exchange Meeting Summary

The Park City School District Board of Education hosts monthly informal meetings so it can engage parents and members of the community. The following items were discussed Feb.14 at Park City High School with Board President Andrew Caplan and Vice President JJ Ehlers.

Connect Summit County: Executive Director Shauna Wiest provided an overview of the mental healthcare resources Connect Summit County has available to parents and students. Connect, now in its second year, partners with the school district to host events related to mental wellness, suicide prevention, improved communications between parents and students in the age of smartphones, and opioid addiction. Connect provides educational programming, outreach, and a database of resources.

Update on Superintendent Search: President Caplan said the Board has hired HYA, a firm that conducts national searches for superintendents. HYA consultants have conducted more than 40 interviews and focus groups, and are conducting an online survey seeking community input.  Data from the focus groups and survey will be used to compile a leadership profile which will be presented to the board at its Feb. 27 meeting. The superintendent opening is currently being advertised nationally and the board plans to conduct interviews in April. An announcement is expected by the end of the school year.

A parent asked Caplan what his top criteria is for the next superintendent. He said someone with experience and political savvy in a similar community, and someone whose strength is managing a strong team. He said the board is committed to “pulling out all of the stops to bring in a superstar.” He told parents that PCSD is only the second district in Utah to use a national search firm.

One parent said Park City has  high expectations and the district needs a superintendent who has the ability to say no to the community and prioritize what the district can accomplish.

Communication: One parent suggested more information about the superintendent search be included in the newspaper and on the radio. He would like to see more about the process and the timeline publicized.  Caplan thanked him for his feedback and said the district is always looking for ways to improve communication.

Homework: A parent said students are incredibly stressed due to lack of sleep and too much homework. Vice President Ehlers said there is a movement to decrease the amount of homework for students. She noted that Jeremy Ranch Elementary is piloting a no homework policy this year.

Recess: A comment from a parent focused on the importance of students having recess at the elementary level.The parent said he spent 25 years in education and has seen physical activity lessened in the name of academics, but test scores have not improved. He said there is an importance of having designated time for recess, to not only be active, but to learn how to get along with each other. Caplan said that decision is currently made at the local school level, but the Board is reviewing its Wellness Policy and discussing whether it should include guidelines districtwide. “We are looking at the whole child and what are the standards we want for our district. It’s at the top of our mind and we are addressing it as a board,” he said.  

Property Tax Notice: A parent asked for a description of the school uniform fee. Business Administrator Todd Hauber said before 1996 the minimum school tax was called the school uniform. It is now called the basic levy and that levy used to fund education. That title has simply not been changed yet on tax notices.

Master Planning: Master planning will begin in the fall. Caplan said the board has a lot of data about what the community wants. Later start times are a priority for some parents, but what does that mean about the location of the high school, Caplan asked.  “We need to determine what our curriculum and programs will look like.  What do we want our school sizes to look like.?” Caplan said the district is looking at about 15 percent growth in the next 10 years. “We are a mature community and everything we do is going to be costly. Ultimately, we want to make decisions that are the best for the community. After we do that, we need to look at how we finance it.” A parent said there are pros and cons to everything the board will consider. She said as long as people believe the board is making the best decision for students, the community will approve the board’s plans.

Board Meeting Summary

Feb. 6, 2017 | Work Session


Oath of Office

Newly appointed board member Erin Grady was given the Oath of Office by Business Administrator Todd Hauber. The board appointed Grady to fill the vacancy in District 5 after Julie Eihausen resigned.

School Board Filing

The filing period for three school board seats runs March 9 at 8 a.m. to March 15 at 5 p.m. Seats are open in Districts 1, 4, and 5. Those interested in running for the board must appear in person at the Summit County Clerk’s Office to file. The Primary Election is June 25 and the General Election is Nov. 6.

Preliminary Budget Discussion

Superintendent Ember Conley said the FY19 budget is built around three priorities: bring the district back to full staffing after the 2008 recession, focus on Professional Learning Communities, and provide student support for the Whole Child (safe, supported, engaged, challenged, and healthy).

The board reviewed a preliminary budget with new items including such positions as: an elementary curriculum director, four Tier 3 interventionists, a high school academic coach, an additional nurse, school social work counselors, an additional Latino outreach aide, translation service, three additional special education teachers, additional bus drivers and a mechanic if the board moves to a two-tier transportation system, an executive director of Human Resources to address succession planning for retiring veteran HR Associate Superintendent, and additional DLI teachers at the high school and junior high. In addition to the proposed staff, the contracted compensation agreements for FY19 amount to $1.2 million.

The board is also considering whether to add one assistant principal at each school so principals have more time to devote to instructional leadership in their schools.  The Board also thinks it may want to wait until a new superintendent is selected and allow him/her to offer their input on the issue.

The preliminary net tax increase would be $5.7 million. The estimated annual impact on primary residential would be $141. The estimated annual impact on a secondary/commercial would be $257.

Board members expressed concern about having the right systems in place to properly onboard new employees. Some board members feel new positions should not be added until a process is in place to train new staff.

Demographics Study

The board retained the Salt Lake City firm of Lewis, Young, Robertson & Burningham, Inc., to conduct a demographic survey. The study included the following:

–2,349 new dwelling units in the school district boundaries in the next 10 years

– 476 new students from proposed developments by 2027

– The largest increase of students by 2027 will be within the Trailside boundaries with 217; McPolin boundaries, 91; Jeremy Ranch boundaries, 84; and Parley’s Park boundaries, 84,

–A scenario using natural growth and new development projections estimates a total of 716 new students in the next decade.

The complete study can be viewed here.

Cell Tower Update

The board was shown what proposed cell towers would look like on the top and back of the Eccles Center. The board asked the district to proceed with determining monthly lease revenues with the cell phone company.

Focus Groups to Help Determine Strengths of Next Superintendent

HYA Executive consultants are in Park City this week conducting more than 40 focus groups seeking input on what the community is looking for in its next superintendent of Park City School District.

“The focus groups today have included interested community members and employees. We appreciate the directness and thoughtfulness in their responses,” said Darline Robles, HYA consultant. ” “This information will guide the board in its selection of a new superintendent. Everyone’s honest and participation is great appreciated.”

The consultants retained by the Board are Robles, the former superintendent of Los Angeles County Office of Education, and currently an associate dean Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. She is also the former Superintendent of Schools for the Salt Lake School District. Carmella Franco spent 36 years in public education and retired as Superintendent of Schools of Whittier School District in California. She currently serves as Director of the Association of California School Administrators Superintendents’ Academy in Whittier.

The Board of Education has asked the consultants to meet with the following groups:

–Cabinet members

–Teachers

–Principals

–Parents

–District Office Staff and District Directors

–PCHS student leaders

–PTO/PTA Leadership (school and district level)

–School Community Councils

– Education Association and Classified Employee Leadership

–Classified and Support Staff

–Park City Police Chief and Resource Office, and Park City Fire Chief

–Communities That Care & Summit County Mental Wealth Alliance

–News Media

–Park City Education Foundation executive board

–Park City Chamber of Commerce

–Sunrise and Park City Rotary Clubs

–City Council and County Council

–Park City Community Foundation

A Community Forum is being held tonight, Feb. 5, for anyone who wants to offer opinions on what characteristics and strengths the board should consider for the next Superintendent. Tuesday, Feb. 6, a Community Forum will be conducted in Spanish. Both meetings are from 6:30 to7:30 p.m. at the District Office. Robles will return to Park City on Feb. 13 to conduct a focus group with elementary teachers (due to Parent-Teacher Conference conflicts this week).

HYA will conduct an online survey, both in English and in Spanish, Feb. 9-16. The survey will be sent to all parents via PCSD Chat and will also be available to the community on the district website.

Following the focus groups and survey, conducted this week and next, Robles and Franco will develop a leadership profile and present it to the board on Feb. 27.

A national recruitment process will take through March 31.

Career Compass Event to Help Students Find Their True North

 

Park City School District wants to know what direction students are headed when it comes to exploring their interests and future careers.  In an effort to help students find their truth north, the district is hosting a Career Compass Event on Feb. 12 from 5-7 p.m. at Park City High for students and families (grades 5-11).

The compass is the key theme of the event, with the four cardinal directions representing Ecker Hill Middle, the intercardinal direction representing Treasure Mountain Junior High, and the secondary intercardinal direction representing Park City High — each narrowing the focus as students proceed from school to school. 

“In public education, we tend to view college and career readiness as college readiness. This creates a “one way to win” philosophy and strategy for our families,” said Danny Fisher, director of Career Technical Education. “The truth present in the jobs market is that there are many ways to arrive at success and this event is designed to share more of these ‘many ways to win’ with our students.”

As students mature and progress in their career interests they should move from exploring to tactically engaging in classes, clubs, and experiences that will provide them a strategic advantage in whatever their goals are for the next stage in life. Fisher said the end goal of this event is to start or support meaningful conversations with students, parents, teachers, counselors, etc. about how the culmination of our students’ educational experiences will “give them a strategic advantage as they choose a career and lifestyle that is right for them.”

The evening begins with a keynote remarks by McCauley Finnegan, a 2015 Park City High graduate who is currently enrolled in the Business Scholars program at the University of Utah, and Ishan Chho, a current student at PCHS.

The event will feature more than 30 breakout sessions, each hosted by a teacher and an industry professional. The professional will discuss the career field and what skills, experience, and knowledge students need to gain in school. The teacher will talk about what classes and clubs are available to support that specific career, and present a pathway of classes in middle school, junior high, and high school to explore the career.

Sessions include: hospitality and tourism, photography, digital design, construction trades, engineering, architecture, apparel design and production, fashion, interior design, aviation, banking and finance, healthcare, legal advocacy, biomedical, art, and filmmaking.

Representatives from Ecker Middle, Treasure Mountain Junior High and PCHS will provide registration information sessions. Additional sessions will be provided by PCCAPS, the Park City Learning Academy, Bright Futures, Park City Education Foundation, Miner Athletics, An Hour of Coding, and Blended Learning at PCHS.

“For students and families in the earlier grades, the event will be about exploring different courses and seeing the connections between potential careers and courses offered in PCSD,” Fisher said. “Students and families should know early on what supports are available through the school district so everyone can incorporate these supports into their educational and career planning.”

Fisher said this event is really about providing information so students can progress through PCSD schools and refine their interests and begin developing a plan to focus and deepen their knowledge base and skill sets towards their plans for the next stage of life.

 

 

 

Three School Board Positions Open in January 2019

There will be three open seats on the Park City School District Board of Education, effective January 2019. Those interested in running for a seat in Districts 1, 4, or 5 need to declare candidacy March 9-15.

School board members serve four-year terms, unless appointed. Those members appointed and wanting to maintain their seats are required to run for a four-year term.

District 1 is currently represented by Anne Peters who was appointed to the board in June 2017 when Phil Kaplan resigned.

District 4 is currently represented by JJ Ehlers who serves as vice president of the board. She has served since January 2015 and has decided not to run again.

District 5 is currently represented by Julie Eihausen. She announced her resignation, effective Feb. 5. The board has appointed Erin Grady to fill that seat the remainder of 2017.  Grady will be sworn in at the Feb. 5 board meeting.

The 2018 filing period opens March 9at 8 a.m. and closes March 15 at 5 p.m. Candidates interested in filing for public office must appear in person at the Summit County Clerk’s Office during regular business hours.

Below are the maps for each of three precincts. Candidates must live in the district for which they are running.

Precinct 1

Precinct 4

Precinct 5

Chinese Students in Park City as Part of Annual Exchange

Park City High School’s China Exchange program has existed for more than 25 years and is the longest standing high school student exchange for both the U.S. and China. Shirley Smith and Val Chin, both long-time Park City residents, initially established the program.

The high school’s sister school—Beijing #4 High School—one of the top high schools in China, hosts PCHS student ambassadors in China for two and a half weeks every other fall.  “Our students are greeted by their Chinese exchange counterpart and spend about a week in Beijing, including some of that time living in their counterpart’s home,” said David Knell, a Mandarin Chinese teacher at PCHS. “The group also travels around China before returning home.”

The Chinese student counterparts arrived today, Jan. 31, in Park City. They were introduced during a packed school welcome assembly. “Ten PCHS students reciprocate by hosting their Chinese counterpart in their homes,” Knell said. “They will spend time at PCHS, ski at Park City Mountain Resort a few days, usually attend a Utah Jazz game, and visit a number of local sites.  They will also  travel to Moab with the PCHS students before heading back to China with a short stop on the west coast.”

Knell said many of the students who have been part of the exchange program maintain friendships with their exchange group and their Chinese counterpart for years to come.

Districtwide Lockout Drill Planned for Feb. 1

The next districtwide lockout drill is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 1, at approximately 8:50 a.m. 

The district recently retained the services of the Tresit Group based in Logan, Utah. Tresit recommends effective and innovative security solutions for schools. Cole Smith from the Tresit Group will be at Park City School District Feb. 1 and critically analyze the safety protocols followed, particularly during the passing period between Treasure Mountain Junior High and Park City High School.

Smith is also helping the district develop the protocol for the modular safety and will be training administrators and staff on the protocol. He is  also reviewing the district’s visitor management and emergency response system, the front office vestibule designs, and proposed fencing at elementary schools.

“He has been extremely impressed with the trauma informed, resilience-focused practices the district has in place to prevent tragic situations on the front end,” said Superintendent Ember Conley.

Parents are asked to review the following reminders prior to Thursday’s lockout drill:

– Do NOT call schools or the district office. External phone calls will not be answered. Staff are assisting students.

– Parents, do NOT go to the schools. Please stay away from the area to allow law enforcement to handle the situation.

– Watch for a text from PCSD Chat alerting you when law enforcement has lifted the lockout.

– If you are in one of the schools during the lockout, our Standard Response Protocol is posted in every room, both in English and in Spanish, and a smaller version of the SRP is available at the front office, both in English and in Spanish.

– The Emergency Update section of the Newsroom will be updated throughout the drill as information becomes available.

PCHS Band Department Receives Multiple Honors and Awards

The Park City High School Band Department received some great news this week, including honors from the Utah Bandmasters Association, the Utah Music Educators Association, the Honor Orchestra of America, and the Utah All-State Jazz Band.

Jazz Educator of the Year: Chris Taylor, Director of Band, has been named Utah Bandmasters Association’s Jazz Educator of the Year. This is the second time in four years he has received this honor. To earn this award, Taylor’s jazz groups demonstrated excellence of the highest degree in the 2016-17 school year. He is one of four educators in the state to receive this award this year, and is the only teacher not from a 5A or 6A high school to receive the award. Taylor will receive his award and recognition at the upcoming Utah Bandmasters Association Conference. In addition to the JV and Varsity Jazz Ensembles, Taylor also directs the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band.

Administrator of the Year: Former PCHS principal Bob O’Connor has been named as Administrator of the Year by the Utah Music Educator’s Association. This award was based on nominations earlier this school year, well before O’Connor took a leave of absence from Park City High. His nomination and award is based on his years of continuous support of the Park City High and Treasure Mountain Junior High music programs. “Bob is an advocate for music in every way,” said Bret Hughes, Director of Percussion. “He found a way to be at many school concerts, always came  to wish our students good luck prior to competitions, and was present in New Orleans when the Advanced Percussion Ensemble performed in front of 6,000 people at the National School Boards Conference. He was also on the curb of Kalakaua Ave one year ago when the Marching Band represented Utah in the 75th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Parade. The PCHS Music Department will be accepting the award in his honor at the upcoming Utah Music Educators Annual Conference.

Honor Orchestra of America: Michael Barski, a senior at PCHS, has been selected as a trombone player in the Honor Orchestra of America. This is a national honor group selected completely by blind audition. Barski is one of three trombone players in the country selected to perform with this ensemble. He will travel to Indianapolis, Indiana, in March to represent PCHS and PCSD in the Music for All National Festival where the orchestra performs two joint concerts with the Indianapolis Philharmonic.

All-State Jazz Band: Jonas Peterson, a junior who plays tenor saxophone, and Dylan Wolfe, a senior who plays bass trombone, have been selected to represent the high school in the Utah All-State Jazz Band. The band is an honor group representing all UHSAA classifications of schools based solely on audition. These two represent two of only four students selected from 1A-4A high schools. They will be among the 19 best jazz musicians in the state next week when they perform at the closing concert of the Utah Music Educator’s Annual Conference in St. George.

All-State Band: The Utah Music Educators Association annually recognizes the top 120 band students in Utah by naming them to the AllState Band (some of them also get assigned to perform as part of the All-State Orchestra). The following students from Park City High School performed at the All-State Gala on Jan. 20 at Abravanel  Hall in Salt Lake City: Marco Zanetti, E-flat clarinet; Bailey Landis, bass clarinet; Michael Barski and Nathan Wales, trombone; Connor Ball, euphonium; Jordan Fajardo-Bird and Joe Dinger, percussion. These seven students from PCHS represent more than 30 percent of the students selected from all of the 1A-4A high schools in Utah.

75th Anniversary of Allied D-Day Invasion in France: Additionally, the  Marching Band has been selected to perform in Normandy, France, in 2019 for the June 6 parade marking the 75th Anniversary of the Allied D-Day Invasion to liberate France.