Jan. 10 Information Exchange Meeting Summary

In an effort to engage parents, employees, and members of the community, the Park City School District Board of Education hosts informal monthly exchange meetings. Each month the meetings are held at different schools. The following items were discussed Jan. 10 at McPolin Elementary with Board President Andrew Caplan and board member Petra Butler.

Front Office Remodels: Parents asked what the new design of the McPolin Elementary front office will look like and when it will be completed. They requested the front office staff have input into the final architectural drawing so it provides an area that is as safe as possible. Caplan said the elementary school front offices are taken longer than expected to remodel due to a delay in materials. He said the elementary offices should be finished by the end of January.

Spanish Translation: A parent asked the district to consider contracting with an outside firm for Spanish translation services.  The Superintendent is aware of the increased need for documents needing to be translated and she is including it as a FY19 budget item. Another parent noted that not a single Spanish-speaking parent was in attendance at the meeting. She encouraged the district to develop systems and processes that are more inclusive.

Budget: Caplan said the board is beginning preliminary budget discussions and hope to have the FY19 budget approved by March or April to give principals the ability to hire staff sooner than in previous years.

Reduced Recess: A McPolin Elementary parent expressed frustration that fourth- and fifth-grade recess has been reduced due to behavioral issues on the playground.  If parents and the school can develop solutions, she wonders if the board can fund them.  Butler cautioned the parents about suggesting aides as solution. She said the district has 16 unfilled aide openings. Caplan encouraged parents to work with the principal to understand the decision and then together create alternative solutions.  Caplan also said the board is updating the district wellness policy and encouraged parents to comment on it. Butler reminded the parents “the board is primarily responsible for the district budget and policy and tries to stay out of school-related decisions. This is the year of “safe and healthy” and the board is willing to look at budget items that will improve student safety.”

Open Enrollment Closed: A parent asked why the board approved closing all schools to open enrollment. “As a board we looked at instructional space, enrollment, and capacity at each school. We also have modular classrooms in many of our schools, and we provide many more programs than required by the state. We also have a mandate from community for small class sizes,” said Caplan. ” We have had a tremendous amount of growth in our population in the past 10 years. This is the first year we haven’t grown. After looking at all the data, we realized we are out of room. So, we made the decision that no new out-of-district students will be allowed to enroll in our schools. It is a decision that will need to be reviewed every year.”

DLI Program: A parent wanted more information on capping enrollment in the dual-immersion programs at certain schools. Currently, every one who wants to get in the DLI program is admitted, Caplan said. “We are seeing a slight decline at Parley’s Park. Some schools have started other programs for students who are not in DLI and those new programs are appealing.” He said if a student applies to a DLI school and the program is full he/she can apply to another school in the district where space is available.

Superintendent Search: A parent wanted an update on the Superintendent search. Caplan said a request for proposal has helped the board retain a consultant who will conduct a nationwide search for Superintendent candidates. A committee of community and staff will do the first round of screening interviews and move three candidates forward for the board to consider. The goal is to have the position filled by this Spring.

Master Planning: The master planning process will kick off this summer and fall. The board hired a consultant this winter to help with pre-planning. The consultant’s recommendation was to wait for a new Superintendent to be in place before the master planning process begins.

Start Times: The board has researched and studied later school start times for years. “There is no good solution,” Caplan said. “With the current traffic patterns we can’t have the high school start later and guarantee that we can get them to school on time. We understand the science and want to make this happen, but we just can’t right now.” A parent who was on the start time committee said a school district in Seattle was able to implement a later start time schedule. She said the board needs to be more creative in its solutions. Butler said she agrees. “Because of traffic patterns we would need 50 minutes to get student to and from school. On the other hand, we have had just as many people oppose the schedule change. It all becomes a ripple effect,” she said. “We want to get through the master planning process and start times and where schools are located will have a direct impact on that plan.”

Bonding: A parent asked when the board is looking at bonding. Andrew said it all depends on what the community wants the district to look like in next 10-15 years. “If the community wants small schools then we will need more money. If they community says they like the way things are, they we don’t have to bond for more money.” Caplan said the board is depending on community input during the master planning process.  Butler said, “Education is incredibly important to this community. If we can show where the money is actually going I have no doubt we will have support for a bond. But we have to explain to the community why we need the buildings and why we need specific programs. And we need all of you to then share that with your neighbors.”

Taxes: A parent wondered if the board worries that taxes are going up in the county and city and if two years from now the community won’t want to support any more tax increases. Caplan said the board is raising taxes this year to cover staff salary increases.

 Interfacing with Park City: A parent asked if the school district and the city interact on a regular basis. Jon Weidenhamer, Economic Development Manager for Park City, who was at the meeting, acts as the liaison with the district. He said the City Council’s goal is to be a full partner with the board. “We work together to understand what our residences want and what the community values.” Caplan said the board has regular meetings with the city, as well as Summit County government officials. “We cannot be successful without knowing the city and county plans,” Caplan said.

DLI Coordinator Needed: Parents requested the board hire a dual-language immersion coordinator. They said Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Kathleen Einhorn has been a strong advocate for DLI and understands the issues related to the program. Caplan said the position is included in the preliminary budget.

The board’s next Information Exchange Meeting is Wednesday, Feb. 14, from 1-3 p.m. at Park City High.

Schools Seeing an Increase in Cold and Flu Absences

Schools in Park City School District are seeing an increase in cold and flu absences this winter. In order to control the spread of infectious diseases at our schools, the district nurses are asking parents to keep the following guidelines in mind when deciding whether or not to send their student(s) to school:

Symptoms of influenza include and are not limited to: fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. In addition, symptoms may also include chest discomfort, head congestion, headache, nausea/vomiting (more common in children), shortness of breath, and sore throat.

– If you have concerns regarding the flu, have your student seen early. Treatment with medication is usually effective if started within the first 48 hours.

– It is not too late to get a flu shot.

– Students should remain home for the following reasons:

       Any temperature greater than 100 degrees. Students should be fever free, without fever reducing medications for 24 hours prior to returning to school.

       Strep infections require treatment with at least the first dose of antibiotics. Students should also be fever free and feeling well before returning to school.

       Vomiting and/or diarrhea require that the student remain home until 24 hours after the symptoms have ceased without medication.

       Marked drowsiness/malaise: Exclude from school if student is unable to actively participate in routine school activities. Needs to be symptom free for 24 hours.

       If your student has pinkeye (conjunctivitis) with purulent discharge. Exclude from school until 24 hours after treatment or cleared by health care professional. 

       Encourage hand washing and refrain from touching the eyes.

– For other guidelines refer to “Park City School District Guidelines for Student Exclusion and Readmission.”

– As a general rule, students should remain home until they have been symptom free for 24 hours. This is important for your student’s health and the health of his/her classmates and staff. Please continue to remind your student of the importance of frequent hand washing, proper nutrition, adequate rest, and proper use and disposal of tissues during this cold and flu season.

– When notifying the school of your student’s absence, please notify the attendance receptionist of the reason for the absence. This assists the nurse in her efforts to control the spread of disease in the school environment.

Board Meeting Summary

Jan. 9, 2018 | Work Session

Preliminary Budget Discussion

Superintendent Ember Conley and members of Cabinet provided the Board with context for understanding the financial needs of the district over the next three to five years.

Dr. Conley presented the vision for a budget that looks not only at FY 19, but the district’s longterm needs. The district’s administrative team believes the greatest needs of the district are time, staff support, and consistent processes.

Cabinet is developing a budget that will have the most impact at the school level and improving student outcomes. The board will need to prioritize the district’s most important issues for FY19.

Board President Andrew Caplan said the Board is supportive of the direction the Administration is taking with the budget and personnel. Dr. Conley said the Board would see a preliminary budget at its Feb. 6 meeting.

Master Planning Update

After reflecting on the report from the Collaborative Learning Network, the board is adopting the following six steps outlined for master planning:

– Step 1: Understanding and Assessment

– Step 2: Reflecting on Educational Vision

– Step 3: Inspiring the Connection between Education and Facilities

– Step 4: Discovering Locally Relevant Solutions

– Step 5: Funding the Future

– Step 6: Professional Development Support

The board also agreed to submit a Request for Proposal for an “Owner’s Representative” who will coordinate the district’s scope and schedule of the master planning process and report to the district’s leadership team and Board of Education.

School Safety Updates

In an effort to keep parents informed about safety and security updates in our schools, here are some important things Park City School District is doing:

Refresher Safety Training: All school staff completed refresher safety protocol training prior to Winter Break.

December Drill: A lockout drill was held Dec. 15 in all district schools. The purpose of the drill was to practice our safety procedures, test our updated emergency texting system, and to determine additional measures that need to be examined. Following the drill we conducted a debrief with each school and learned what areas we can improve upon.

Student Responsibility: Please remind your students that when they “see something, say something.” They can report incidents to you or any adult at the school. Students should be reminded to text parents they are OK and safe when we are in a lockout or lockdown situation. District officials will share more detailed information with parents as soon as possible.

Emergency Communications: We tested the new updates to our PCSD Chat system during the December drill. We can now text more than 5,200 parents and staff in less than 20 minutes, in both English and Spanish. The text contains a link directing you to the Emergency Update section ofthe district’s Newsroom.

Emergency Procedures:  All classrooms and public areas throughout the district now display a copy of the Standard Response Protocol procedures. A pocket-size version is available, in both English and Spanish, in the main office of each school.

Policies Reviewed: The district is reviewing all policies and procedures related to safety and security.

Hardware Updates: All intercoms in schools have been checked and repaired so an all-call can be heard by everyone in our buildings. We are increasing technology in some parts of the high school to allow for better Internet service.

New App Piloted: During our last drill, Park City High School faculty tested “Loop,” a new app created by Loop Communications based in Park City. The app is designed for group messages and allows communications between the administration and staff.


Elementary School Front Offices Update: Thank you for your patience as we upgrade the front offices in our elementary schools. We had planned to have the front office remodels completed during Winter Break, but there has been a delay in some of the materials. We anticipate those offices completed by the end of January. Once they are finished we will begin remodeling and updating the secondary school front offices.

Safety Consultant: At the request of the Board of Education, the district is retaining a safety consultant to review all the district’s safety measures.

Next Drill:  Our next safety drill is Thursday, Feb. 1. We plan to hold districtwide drills each month.

Thank you for your support as we continue to work at improving our emergency and safety procedures with students and staff.

After-School Programs Create Unique Opportunities for Students

Park City is fortunate to have outstanding community partners supporting vibrant after-school programs for elementary students. Last year Park City School District and Holy Cross Ministries Combined its after-school programs into one unified program and it’s proving to be a big win for students.

Holy Cross Ministries has offered its own program for underserved children since 2000.  “Holy Cross Ministries has a long history of providing services within the Park City community. We work very hard to make sure the needs of the underserved are met,” said Patricia Sanders, Director of Development and Communications for HCM. “Last year we were able to partner with Park City School District in our after-school programming. That combination has improved the program and created a better experience for the students.”

Todd Klarich, Director of Community Education for PCSD, said more students are being served and that is only possible because of the partnership with HCM and other community partners. “We appreciate all the efforts that have made this program be so successful and we value this  partnership which has created many more opportunities for all our children.”

The four pillars of the after-school program are:

– STEM and Literacy: Students read for 30-45 minutes every day then alternate between art and science projects during enrichment time.

– Homework Help: Students work on homework for 45-90 minutes each day with help from teachers and volunteer tutors.

– Physical education and Exercise:  Students have recess 30 minutes each day and go on field trips twice a month with Kids Outdoors.

– Field Trips: Students go on field trips in Park City and in Salt Lake City.

The programs run Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Fridays from 12:30-6 p.m. It is open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and a monthly fee is charged. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.

After-school programs are offered at all four Park City School District elementary schools — Camp Moose, Camp Hawk, Camp Falcons, and Camp Trailblazers. Parents can still register for the programs going on now, and next year’s registration begins in April.

Additional community partnerships include: Park City Education Foundation, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Basic Recreation, PC Marc, EATS Park City, Summit Land Conservancy, Youth Sports Alliance, Park City Community Foundation, and Latinos in Action.

For more information visit the Community Education website here.

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About Holy Cross Ministries: Holy Cross Ministries (HCM) is a non-profit organization in Utah that responds to the underserved community’s need for health and wellbeing. HCM’s  history of providing services to vulnerable families in this community dates back to 1875, when the first two sisters of the Holy Cross arrived to establish a hospital for injured miners and railroad workers. In their first three months of service, they opened a hospital and a grade school. They established an innovative prepaid health plan for miners in which participants contributed $1 a month while in good health, which entitled them to free admission. Over the years, as the healthcare environment and delivery system in the United States became more complex, the sisters decided to move away from the acute hospital setting and to look at new and innovative ways to reach out to the underserved and underinsured. In 1994, the Sisters created Holy Cross Ministries (a 501c3 nonprofit organization) to continue their tradition of compassionate service. Today, Holy Cross Ministries continues to serve the poor, underserved and marginalized, through health outreach, education, and legal services.

Superintendent Receives Chief’s Award from Park City Police Department

Dr. Ember Conley, Superintendent of Park City School District, received the Chief’s Award from the Park City Police Department for her contributions to the community.

Dr. Conley was given the award at the Police Department’s meeting today, Jan. 4.  Chief Wade Carpenter said she was honored for her efforts in improving safety training and security at all Park City schools. She has also worked to increase collaboration with Park City Police, including co-creating press releases, and establishing cohesive values and messages.

“I am incredibly touched and humbled by the recognition to me, and by extension, my entire team.  It exemplifies community teamwork for the good of our students,” Dr. Conley said.

Chief Carpenter said Superintendent Conley is “a fighter and I have a ton of respect for her. I appreciate your dedication to students.”

The superintendent is a national speaker and advocate to combat opioid crisis in youth and has had articles published in national magazines.

She has worked to improve outreach with Latino community by creating an entire department for student outreach.

Under her leadership, the school district has increased awareness on student wellness and mental health by increasing staff to support families and students. And she has enhanced community partnerships, including the  Summit County Health Department and helped establish Communities That Care.

13 Ways to Connect With Your Teen

As 2018 gets underway, Park City School District is continuing is focus on safe and healthy habits for students and their parents. Dr. Ben Belnap, Associate Superintendent of Student Wellness, offers his suggestions for parents to better connect with their teens.

He originally wrote these tips when the first season of the series “13 Reasons Why” was released. “While there are so many things wrong with the Netflix series, let’s get some things right,” he said. “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.