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.