Board Appoints Two New Administrators

Park City School District Interim Superintendent David Gomez, announced today, May 1, two new administrative appointments for the 2018-19 school year.

Jaclyn Knapp, currently an adjunct faculty member and researcher at Weber State University,  has been appointed Director of Special Education. She begins Aug. 1.

Jamie Weekes, currently a math teacher at Park City High, has been appointed Assistant Principal at Ecker Hill Middle School. This is a one-year appointment.

Jaclyn Knapp

Knapp has been teaching and doing educational outcome research at WSU as well as presenting her research at conferences nationally. She has been  working as the Director of Special Education for a charter co-op. Knapp has worked as a consultant for the Utah State Office of Education and as a school psychologist for Davis School District. She still consults privately as a mental health counselor specializing in working with children and adolescents with behavior problems. She received an Education Specialist degree in psychology and a master’s degree in psychology from Utah State University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Weber State University.

Jamie Weekes

Weekes has been teaching for the past 15 years at middle school, high school, and summer school levels. She has worked as a math interventionist for eight years in both middle school and high school. Weekes has taught at Park City High the past six years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and is completing her graduate work through Grand Canyon University.

Parents/Guardians Invited to Take Online School Survey

Beginning today, April 23, Park City School District will be administering online school surveys. All parents/guardian  of PCSD students are invited to participate. This survey is open today through May 11.

The purpose of the survey is to gather feedback about teachers, principals, and schools. Responses are anonymous and no personal information is collected. Results will be given to teachers and administrators and used to improve classrooms and schools. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete.

The survey can be taken on any computer or device with web access, or on computers available in all schools. The survey is available in English and Spanish.

The survey can be accessed here.

There is also a link to the survey on school and district websites.

Parents/guardians may receive more than one invitation or reminder to take the survey, but are asked to only take the survey once.

New Interim Superintendent Appointed

David Gomez

The Park City School District Board of Education has appointed David Gomez as Interim Superintendent.  Mr. Gomez currently serves as principal of Parley’s Park Elementary. The board approved the appointment at its board meeting tonight, April 17. Mr. Gomez begins as Interim Superintendent tomorrow, April 18.

“The board and Superintendent [Ember] Conley have made a collective decision to appoint an Interim Superintendent for Park City School District,” said Board President Andrew Caplan. “The board and Dr. Conley feel it is in the best interest of the district to hire someone on a full-time basis until the new superintendent is on board.”

Dr. Conley, who is transitioning to her new position with Mesa Public Schools, is committed to a smooth and effective transition, and will be available to assist the Interim Superintendent and the new PCSD Superintendent once he/she is hired.

Tracy Fike

Tracy Fike will serve as Interim Principal at Parley’s Park Elementary. She is currently the school’s Instructional Technology Coach. Caplan said the district’s Business Administrator Todd Hauber will continue to focus on budget and policy issues and Mr. Gomez will focus on academics.

Mr. Gomez has been principal at Parley’s Park since 2012. Prior to coming to Park City, he was an elementary principal in Granite and Jordan School Districts, and an assistant middle school and elementary principal in Jordan School District. He has also served as the Educational Equity associate director for Granite School District. Mr. Gomez began his career with the Utah State Office of Education as an education specialist for at-risk, Title I students. He holds a master’s degree in public school and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

“My goal is to continue the excellence that PCSD is known for, while improving upon some areas of need in order to provide for a smooth transition for the next superintendent,” said Mr. Gomez. “The one thing I will promise is that each decision I make will be based on a single premise —what is best for students. I look forward to the opportunity to work with the entire PCSD community during this transition. Let’s get to work!”

Mrs. Fike has been the Instructional Technology Coach at Parley’s since 2016 and has been an administrative intern at Parley’s Park, Ecker Hill Middle and Park City High. From 2013-16 she was a reading intervention teacher at Ecker Hill Middle. Mrs. Fike has two master’s degrees, one in instructional leadership and one in business administration, and a Bachelor of Arts.

2018-19 Administrative Appointments

Park City School District Superintendent Ember Conley today, March 27, announced two administrative appointments for the 2018-19 school year.

Traci Evans

Traci Evans, currently the principal at Ecker Hill Middle School, has been appointed Interim Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, effective Aug. 1. She replaces Dr. Kathy Einhorn, who is retiring July 31.

Sam Salinas, currently assistant principal at Ecker Hill Middle School, has been named Interim Principal at Ecker Hill Middle for the 2018-19 school year. The district will fill the open, one-year assistant principal position at Ecker Hill. The opening will be posted the week of April 16.

Ms. Evans holds Bachelor of Science Degrees in both Elementary Education, and Human Development and Family Studies. She taught second and fifth grade at Parkley’s Park and Jeremy Ranch Elementary Schools before securing her ESL and Level One Reading endorsements and Masters of Science Degree in Elementary Reading and Literacy. She went on to earn her administrative/supervisory license while serving as Assistant Principal at Jeremy Ranch Elementary. Ms. Evans became principal at Ecker Hill in 2010. Under her direction, Ecker Hill was recognized by a national “School to Watch” for the outstanding job it does of meeting the unique needs of middle school students.

Sam Salinas

Mr. Salinas was appointed at Ecker Hill in 2015. He has taught in high schools, middle schools, and universities both in Mexico and the United States throughout his more than 25  years in education. He received his undergraduate from Westminster College in Utah and attained his first Masters of Education from La Universidad Internacional de La Paz in Mexico. He received his second Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah. He has worked in school/university administration for 10 years. In 2002 he became the director La Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur Campus Loreto part of the state university system in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Safety Update | March 2018

Park City School District is continuing its goal to improve safety and security districtwide, in an effort to create a positive learning environment for all students. Here are the projects and programs the district has been working on since our last Safety Update.

Increased Law Enforcement Presence: We hope you have noticed the increased police presence around our schools. The Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Park City Police Department have asked their officers to increase their patrol around our schools, and when possible, to go inside the school and be visible to our students. We are appreciative of law enforcement’s extra efforts on behalf of our students and staff.

Safety Report Presented to Board: Cole Smith, a safety and security expert with the Tresit Group, presented the Board of Education with his analysis of district safety protocols on Feb. 27. Smith, a former Special Agent for the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, submitted a report that includes recommendations for the following: visitor access policy, background checks, lessons learned from drills and areas of improvement, historical threats in Utah and best practices for school safety, future training for staff, access control and perimeter, and modular classroom threat assessment.

The report states: “All eight schools in the district would be among the top schools for safety posture and preparedness in the State of Utah based on frequency of drills, school involvement in safety planning, community engagement, and social upgrades for access control.”

Smith said the current steps being taken by the district to improve safety procedures, visitor access, and perimeter security are in line with best practices.

The full report can be viewed here.

Elementary Front Offices: Based on recommendations from the Tresit Group, we have worked with architects to redesign the elementary school front offices. The revised drawings should be finalized the first week of April.

“I am disappointed that we have not been able to finish the front office vestibules with the proposed timelines,” said Superintendent Ember Conley. “We have had delays due to changes in Utah Procurement, difficulty in receiving materials, and changes in contractors. This delay has also allowed to get a second opinion of the designs from the Tresit Group which will provide schools with even more security.”

–McPolin Elementary: We are expanding the front counter and adding two additional doors to ensure secretary visibility.

–Jeremy Ranch and Parley’s Park Elementaries: Finishing floor molding, adding a door and wiring entry for speakers.

–Trailside: Adding an additional door and wiring entry for speakers.

The Board is discussing the need for additional security at the schools until the front offices are complete the end of May. The Tresit Group recommends leveraging local law enforcement. Work on secondary school offices will begin in June.

Door Lockdowns/Panic Buttons: In February, we once again tested the door lockdowns and front office panic buttons throughout the district to ensure they are all in working condition.

Visitor Management System:  Beginning next school year, all visitors to our schools will be required to enter through the main/front door of thbuilding and report to the front office to sign in and receive a visitor badge. Visitors will be asked to submit their driver’s license or other valid form of government-issued identification containing a photograph to obtain a visitor pass. Valid forms of ID include a current driver’s license or state-issued identification card from any of the 50 states, U.S. passport card, Active Military ID, or other government-issued identification containing a photograph. There may be other cases that do not fit into these areas; they will be handled case by case, at the discretion of the Principal or Superintendent.

PCSD is currently testing visitor management systems that can scan I.D.s and automatically allow visitors into the front office. A final recommendation will be made the first week of April, and purchase will begin through procurement in mid-April. The last week of April the district will begin training and communication for the new visitor system. The system will be consistent at all PCSD schools.  Once the system is purchased, we will have a soft launch later this spring.

Fencing at Elementary Schools: The district is in the process of receiving bids for fencing at each school. Construction will begin once the weather becomes warmer and the ground is dry and ready for concrete work. The Tresit Group is reviewing the location and security of proposed gates. We hope to begin installation the week of April 16.

New Legislation: The district is coordinating with the Tresit Group on the new legislation passed this session regarding hardware height and provisions for locks and bolt locks that are used in a school lockdown or lockdown drills. This change in the law will allow for use of newer classroom door lock technology that previously did not meet building and fire code standards.

Mental Health: An important component of school safety is school culture, school counseling, and mental health issues. The district has increased school counselors and social worker counselors to support families and students. We have also doubled the number of nurses in the district, enhanced community partnerships with Communities That Care and the Summit County Health Department. PCSD is also an engaged partner in the Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance that works to improve awareness about mental health and substance abuse. The Board of Education is continuing to provide more resources to assist with the mental wellness of students.

Next Safety Drill: The district will continue to conduct safety drills on a monthly basis. We will no longer provide advance notice to students, staff, or parents in an effort to practice under more “real-time” scenarios. The Great Utah Shakeout  (earthquake drill) is April 19 and all schools will be participating.

See Something, Say Something: Parents and teachers, please continually remind your students if they see something that seems odd or out of the ordinary, they should report it to you or school administration. If it happens outside of school hours, immediately contact the Park City Police or Summit County Sheriff’s Office (depending on where you reside). Once we are notified of something suspicious, we immediately involve law enforcement and begin the process of investigating the tip.

SafeUT App: The SafeUT app is a statewide crisis text and tip line that provides real-time crisis intervention to youth through texting and a confidential tip program. While the main thrust of this program has been crisis counseling and suicide prevention, the app can be used to report bullying issues as well as potential school safety threats or related issues. It’s been reported that tips shared through the SafeUT app have already prevented dozens of planned acts of violence at Utah schools.

Teacher Possession of Firearms: As per state law, teachers and administrators are allowed to have concealed weapons in their possessionat school, as long as they meet the requirements outlined in state code. There is no requirement that administrators ask their teachers whether or not they are permit holders and/or whether they carry within the schools.

 

New Park City High School Principal Appointed

Park City School District Superintendent Ember Conley announced today, March 21, that Roger Arbabi, currently the high school principal at The Columbus School in Medellin, Colombia, has been appointed principal at Park City High School.

Mr. Arbabi brings 25 years of education experience to Park City High, having served as an assistant middle school principal at The Columbus School, and Granbury Independent School District in Texas. He is also a former high school AP physics and science teacher.

“Our family chose to come to Park City almost one year ago, not only for the quality of life, but also for the high quality of its schools,” he said. “I’m honored to be chosen to be a part of Miner community and to continue the amazing work that is already happening at the high school.”

Mr. Arbabi, who is fluent in English, Spanish, and Farsi, holds a Master of Education in Educational Leadership, and a Bachelor of Science/Biology. He was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador where he trained extensionists to go into the field and teach sound agroforestry techniques to local farmers. He also assisted single mothers to start small businesses to support their families, and developed and executed a seminar for two local high schools on the awareness of global and local environmental issues and the planting of more 1,000 trees in erosion areas.

He and his wife, Kathryn, will reside in Park City with their two children. His wife is an OB/GYN and will be volunteering at the People’s Health Clinic. Mr. Arbabi begins Aug. 1.

“Roger is a welcome addition to Park City High School, to the district, and to our administrative team,” said Tim McConnell, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources. “His background is unique and extraordinary. This is an excellent decision and we are so excited for him to arrive in Park City.”

Board Issues Statement on 2018-19 School Start Times

The Board of Education is expected to not implement new school start times for the 2018-19 school year. In June 2017, the Board passed a motion directing the Administration to implement early start times for the coming school year.

After consultation with city and county transportation officials, it has been determined there are no viable solutions for the 2018-19 school year. City and county leaders are still reviewing SR-248 and working on solutions that will improve traffic conditions along the corridor in the future.

It is anticipated the Board and District Administration will continue discussing school start times during master planning later this fall.

District Statement Concerning Student Walkouts

The recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida, and other losses of life on school campuses across the nation over the past several years have driven increased interest in student-led civic engagement efforts and actions, including school walkouts.

Park City School District supports students’ constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and free expression; however, the role of our educators is to remain neutral, including when a walkout is held during contract time and on school property. 

Our goal in responding to student-initiated plans and other forms of peaceful assembly is to keep the focus on teaching and learning, while promoting student safety on campus.

If students do not return to class following any walkout, standard attendance rules for unexcused absences, truancies and tardies will apply. Classes will continue for students who choose not to participate in walkouts. Park City School District supports students’ rights to have varying opinions, and asks that there be respect for those opinions.

The first nationwide walkout is planned for Wednesday, March 14, and we anticipate some of our students will participate. Students will be supervised and law enforcement will be present.

Additional events are planned for March 24 (March for Our Lives), and April 20 (National School Walkout in remembrance of the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting).

Park City School District remains committed to a safe, neutral, learning environment for all students.

Park City Named Best School District in Utah

Park City School District has receive the honor of being named best school district in Utah by Business Insider.

“There are nearly 100,000  elementary, middle, and high schools in the U.S. The best districts are coveted, and a high-caliber school system can be a key factor when a family decides to relocate to one city over another,” the article states.

Niche, a company that researches and compiles information on schools, provides a ranking of school districts. Their ranking is based on a district’s strength of academics, health and safety, diversity, and the quality of teachers.

“We are incredibly honored,” said Superintendent Ember Conley. “This accolade is a reflection of the incredible teachers and staff who are advocates for our students. We also strive to be forward thinking in providing our students with the best possible education,” she said.

PCSD’s letter grades from Niche include:

Academics: A

Health & safety: A

Diversity: B-

Teachers: A+

Park City High Principal Shares He is Not Returning

Highly respected school leader Park City High School Principal Bob O’Connor shared Thursday, Jan. 11, that he will not be returning as principal at the high school in order to address health concerns.

Mr. O’Connor released the following statement to students, parents, and faculty: 

“I want to thank all of you so much for your concern and support over the past several weeks while I’ve been going through a series of screenings and tests to diagnose my health-related symptoms. My doctors have discovered evidence of a neuromuscular-degenerative disease that requires me to seek multiple care plans and treatments. It is in my best interest to take medical leave to fully explore treatment options. Due to the nature of my health issues I will not be able to return as Principal of Park City High School.

“I am proud of my 21 years of service in leadership roles in the Park City School District. My latest service as Principal for the past six years at Park City High School is reflected through the numerous accomplishments of the entire faculty and student body.

“The students at Park City High School offer me hope for a brighter world full of music, scientific discoveries, athleticism, diversity and environmental stewardship. Their love and enthusiasm are infectious, which is something I will cherish forever.”

Superintendent Ember Conley announced in November that Mr. O’Connor was taking leave. Kathleen Einhorn was named interim principal. Dr. Einhorn will serve as principal the remainder of the 2017-18 school year. 

“Mr. O’Connor is a highly respected educator and administrator. He is a role model for advocating for children and his staff.  His exemplary service as a leader in the district will be irreplaceable. He is a advocate and champion for students.”

The district will post the position this month and begin the search for a new high school principal. The district will screen applicants and interview in March with the replacement announced later that month. A hiring committee will follow district policy with a balanced team of teachers, parents, administrators, and board members.

Mr. O’Connor was hired by Park City School District in 1997 and has served as principal at PCHS since August 2012. Prior to that he was an assistant principal at PCHS and a principal at Treasure Mountain Junior High School.