Superintendent Notifies Board – Last Day is June 30, 2018

Superintendent Ember Conley

Park City School District Superintendent Ember Conley announced today, Dec. 6, she will not seek renewal of her current contract. Her last day as superintendent will be June 30, 2018. She will remain available to transition the new superintendent until Jan. 31, 2019.

“I wanted to provide the board with ample time to select a superintendent who will continue the important work that we have been doing over the last five years,” Dr. Conley said. “A successful transition is extremely important as we move into the next chapter for leadership in Park City School District.”

Dr. Conley has served as superintendent in Park City since 2013. Prior to that she served as a school and district administrator for nine years in Colorado and Arizona.

“My singular focus has been to provide choices and opportunity where students are excited to learn. I will remain fully committed to this vision we created.  As the head administrator I stand with my team in recognizing the tremendous accomplishments we have been able to achieve at PCSD for our students.”

As superintendent, Dr. Conley is responsible for the overall academics and educational experiences with curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional practice; District Office management; administrative team management; budget oversight (including supervising the planning, preparation and presentation of the annual budget and making recommendation to the board for approval); resources and facilities; and knowing current national education trends.

“Dr. Conley and her leadership will be greatly missed. The Park City School District has grown leaps and bounds during her tenure in our community,” said Board President Andrew Caplan. “The Board thanks Dr. Conley for her exemplary service and commitment to our district and wishes her the best in her future endeavors. We look forward to celebrating her accomplishments with the community this spring.”

During her time at PCSD, Dr. Conley’s accomplishments include:

–Park City High named one of the top 500 schools in the nation

–Increased graduation rate from 89% in 2013  to 97% in 2017, which is the top 1% of the country

–Awarded elementary school, Jeremy Ranch Elementary, as a National Blue Ribbon School, the first in PCSD

–Lead two successful contract negotiations with staff after coming into an environment of federal mediation for contract negotiations

–Improved the achievement gap for Latino students

–A top  five Advanced Placement rate district in Utah with a 75% participation rate and a 70% pass rate with the distinction of being awarded top AP School in the state in 2015 and the top two AP students in the state in 2016

–National speaker and advocate to combat opioid crisis in youth with two national publications in School Administrator Magazine and the ASCD Education 

–Improved outreach with Latino community by creating an entire department for student outreach

–Enhanced community partnerships, including the establishment and support of Communities that Cares and Summit County Health Department

–Developed STEM programs at all elementary schools

–Implemented coding for all elementary students

–Added a gifted and talented specialist at each elementary school

–Developed the Beverly Taylor Sorenson dance specialist at Parley’s Park Elementary

–PCSD was named the only Apple Distinguished Program  in Utah for 2014-16 for implementation of its “one-to-one” initiative that supplies students (grades 2-12) with laptops to use in the classroom and to take home

–In U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 rankings, Park City High is one of only three high schools in Utah to earn a gold medal

–Successful implementation of international recognized Dual Language programs by the Spanish and French Embassies

–Added crucial administrative staff — Associate Superintendent of Student Wellness and Director of Communications — with a focus on student wellness

–Doubled the number of nurses in the district from 3 to 6 to address student health needs

–Created new academic program, Summit Learning, for the Park City Learning Academy

–Increased counselors and added social worker counselors to support families and students

–Developed nationally recognized full-day preschool program and added free all-day kindergarten for all students (the only district in the state)

–Named to two national education organization boards that include AASA and the Horace Mann Executive Board

Board Meeting Summary

Dec. 5, 2017 | Special Regular Session

Master Planning Consultant

The board met with Nick Salmon, founder and president of Collaborative Learning Network, who has been retained as a consultant to assist the board in developing a plan for its master planning process. He will identify the data needed for the planning process including enrollment, school sites, facilities, and funding; create a timeline; assess the feasibility of completing a master plan for bond election scenarios; identify key participants in the planning effort; and identify community engagement tools. This week, Salmon is touring all PCSD schools and properties to review current space uses and to meet with school leaders to establish key issues at each site. He is meeting with the Facility Committee to review the planning process and to identify community partners for the planning process and school success. He will present his findings to the board by Dec. 14.

Cell Phone Towers

Business Administrator Todd Hauber asked the board if it would consider installing AT&T cell phone towers at Dozier Field or on the side of the Eccles loft section. The proposed lease agreement could generate $1,000-$1,500 a month for the district. The board said it prefers to see more detailed renderings of what the cell phone towers look like before committing to the lease.

Transportation Update

Park City Municipal Transportation Planning Manager Alfred Knotts and Senior Transportation Planner Julia Collins shared updates about Park City’s Transit Tunnel and the Highway 248 project. They reminded the board that the city is designing and implementing an integrated system of trails, buses, roads, and alternative transportation options in an effort to providing transportation access to all residents and visitors, preserving our small-town character, and meeting the city’s net-zero carbon goals. Knotts said the city will continue its ongoing communication with the district as it moves forward on this project and others.

Human Resources Review

Following a recent review of the Human Resources Department, Associate Superintendent Tim McConnell presented the board with the department’s goals and action steps to address the findings. The review looked at the department’s branding, recruiting, screening, hiring, and onboarding. The department has adopted “Adventure Awaits in Park City School District” as its branding in all teacher recruiting and marketing. The district will take part in several presentations, college and university job fairs, and Education Week’s Virtual Job Fair later this Spring. It will also recruit dual immersion teachers through university DLI programs and career placement centers. The application process has been streamlined and the process for screening, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding new teachers is being evaluated and improved.

School Safety Review

–Superintendent Ember Conley said the district is holding additional safety training for staff, reviewing and updating policies and procedures, and studying vulnerabilities during an emergency. A districtwide lockdown/lockout drill is planned for Dec. 15, with law enforcement, to practice emergency response procedures. She plans to conduct similar drills monthly on a districtwide basis.  A tabletop active shooter drill is planned for Feb. 26.

–Dr. Conley has been in contact with school safety consultants to help the district determine best practices. She hopes to have a request for proposal sent out to potential consultants before Winter Break.

– She has met with a vendor for a cell phone booster for schools that have “dead spots.” All intercoms have been checked and four have been repaired or reconnected.

–Construction is underway on the elementary school front office vestibules. The work should be completed by the end of the Winter Break.

–A Safety Sub-Committee recently met to review Visitor Management Systems, and a recommendation for an Emergency Management system will soon be recommended.

–Board President Andrew Caplan urged the Superintendent to retain a security expert/consultant to help guide the district on its safety improvements.

– Board members Petra Butler and Anne Peters suggested an interim fence for portables until fences are installed later this Spring. 

Student Appeal

The board reviewed a student appeal and voted to revoke the suspension, per Policy 10100 – Safe Schools.

Policies for Posting

–Policy 7025: Personnel Records

–Policy 7035: Scope of Employment and Use of Weapon

Policies Approved

The board approved revisions to the following policies:

–Policy 7085: Employing Licensed Staff

–Policy 7160: Orderly Termination

–Policy 10001: Bullying

–Policy 10026: Home School Dual Enrollment

Holiday Extravaganza to showcase student musicians Dec. 7-8

The Holiday Extravaganza, performed by student musicians Dec. 7-8, isn’t a typical concert. The audience is invited to wander around to the different venues at the Eccles Center to experience the 17 music ensembles from Park City High and Treasure Mountain Junior High. The Extravaganza is Dec. 7-8 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and admission is free.

“The ability to showcase every performing group from TMJH and PCHS during the two-night Holiday Extravaganza helps our department accomplish our goal of supporting each other’s program through exposing our students to various genres of music present within PCSD,” Hughes said.
“It is also great for the parents of our students to be able to watch the other performing forces in action and to see an ensemble they may otherwise not see. The format of the concert allows the concert attendee to choose their own adventure, and experience music of their choosing.”Hughes also said the evenings of music provide a chance for parents to show their elementary-age children the types of music taught at the secondary level.

The following groups will perform Thursday: 8th Grade Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, TMJH Jazz Band, JV Jazz Band, Varsity Jazz Band, 8th Grade Choir, Jazz Choir, Percussion 2, Percussion 3, and Advanced Percussion.

Ensembles performing Friday are: Wind Ensemble, Varsity Jazz Band, Jazz Choir, PCHS Chamber Choir, 8th Grade Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Full Orchestra, Percussion 3, and Advanced Percussion.
The music faculty include: Bret Hughes, Director of Percussion, Chris Taylor, Director of Concert and Jazz Bands, Scott Tanner, Director of Orchestras, and Christin Abbott, Director of Choirs.

School Closure Procedures

With snow falling in Park City this weekend,  here is an explanation of Park City School District’s school closure procedures. Parents and staff should become familiar with the guidelines and are encouraged to review them at the start of each winter.

The decision to close school, delay start time, or release students and staff early can only be called by the superintendent to reduce confusion between schools and programs; this includes cancellation of any elementary after school programs.  

When school closes early due to weather, all evening activities will be cancelled, with the exception of high school athletics and activities, which will be determined by the superintendent and athletic director. Sometimes there are exceptions to this rule; and we will notify you of these situations as they arise.

By policy, head secretaries and 12-month employees, which includes principals and assistant principals, are expected to report to work as soon as it is safe to do so.  This expectation is based upon the issue that we typically have families who do not receive notification and may show up to school.  We are NOT obligated to keep students, but need to contact parents or an emergency contact to get them home safely.

The decision to close school for the day or release early is one that is made with much thought and consideration. The administration takes into account many different factors including the safety and well being of our students and staff. We look at the weather conditions, precipitation and temperature, based on information gathered from the National Weather Service (NWS), local road conditions provided by UDOT and discussion with the city and county transportation officials.

In the event that inclement or extreme weather warrants school closing, delay start or an early release, the following will occur:

Cancellation/Early Release of School: Parents will be notified as early in the morning as possible, often by 6:00 a.m., through the use of PCSD Chat and the local news media.

Early release from school will be determined as early in the day as possible based on information gathered from The National Weather Service.

Closings and Early Releases will be posted on the following media outlets:

–PCSD Website 

–PCSD Facebook & Twitter


–KPCW Radio

Delayed Start

In the case of a two-hour delayed start, morning preschool would be cancelled; afternoon preschool would be held.  Staff would be expected to be on time and ready to work.  As for food service, breakfast would NOT be served, but lunch would be provided.

This is the process going forward:

For a snow day where school is canceled, 12-month employees are required to report to work as soon as it is safe to do so.

For an early release, the decision to close school or release early due to the weather is made by the superintendent in consultation with the administrative team, and UDOT. The safety and well being of our students and staff is at the forefront of the decision. All staff are required to remain at their work location until all students have been picked up or until released by the superintendent.

For a late start where the start of school is delayed by an hour or two, employees would come in at the later time — so a two hour delay, employees come in two hours later.

In the case of a two-hour delay, morning preschool would be cancelled; afternoon preschool would be held.  Staff would be expected to be on time and ready.  As for food service, breakfast would NOT be served, but lunch would be provided.In most cases employees will be working their normal duties once they arrive at their work locations, although they may be asked to help out at schools with other duties if needed.

PCHS ‘Got Talent’ Showcased Dec. 14

The theater department at Park City High School is bringing awareness to its department and high school talent during its first-ever PCHS Got Talent on Dec. 14.

The talent show will be performed at an all-school assembly during the day hosted by the students council. That night, the show will be open to the public at 7 at the Eccles Center, hosted by Rick Kimball and Griffin Childers. Tickets are $5, with proceeds supporting the theater department.

Foreign Figures will be the guest artist for the evening show. Foreign Figures is a Utah-based indie pop group formed in late 2014 by brothers Eric and Steve Michels, Seth Dunshee, and Jonny Tanner. All Utah natives, the band met while attending Utah Valley University. They call themselves Foreign Figures as a nod to the time that each member spent living in a foreign country, as well as the band’s interest in connecting with all types of people around the world.

“This is going to be one great night,” said Kimball. “This is one show you will not want to miss.”


Youth suicides in Utah increase by 141.3 percent

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) announced today, Nov. 30, that suicides among Utah youth aged 10-17 from 2011 to 2015, increased 141.3 percent, compared to an increase of 23.5 percent nationally.

Suicidal ideation and attempts among Utah youth also increased during this time period. In Summit County, youth suicide attempts increased by 3 percent (826 youth).

The UDOH requested help from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to better understand the factors leading to this increase.

A team of Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers from the CDC was deployed to Utah to conduct an independent epidemiologic investigation, also known as an Epi-Aid, of this urgent public health problem. The Epi-Aid team worked closely with staff at the UDOH to analyze data from seven major data sources to better determine trends, common precipitating factors for suicide, and risk and protective factors for suicidal behaviors unique to Utah youth.

“None of these data sets could have provided such a comprehensive picture of what is happening alone,” said Michael Friedrichs, epidemiologist with the UDOH. “Our investigation showed that suicide is complex and youth can experience multiple risk and protective factors. No single behavior or risk factor could explain all the reasons for the increase we’ve seen.”

From 2011 to 2015, 150 Utah youth aged 10-17 died by suicide, the majority of which were aged 15-17 years (75.4%), male (77.4%), and non-Hispanic white (81.3%). More than a third (35.2%) of youth who died by suicide had a mental health diagnosis and nearly a third (31.0%) were depressed at the time of their death.

“We continue to see the critical importance of addressing mental health concerns both in relation to suicide deaths and suicidal ideation and attempts,” said Kimberly Myers, suicide prevention coordinator at the Utah Department of Human Services. “Mental health treatment can and does work. Suicide is preventable and we need to continue to promote better access to care for those struggling with suicidal thoughts.”

Those experiencing suicidal thoughts can reach out for free, confidential help 24/7 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visiting  The SafeUT Crisis Text & Tip Line app is also available for download. Suicide prevention resources for LGBTQ youth are available at

In addition to mental health concerns, family relationship problems, other forms of violence such as bullying at school and electronic bullying, substance use, and psychological distress were common risk factors in youth suicides. However, supportive family, community, and peer environments were protective against suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

“Families, schools, neighborhoods, and communities at large must become safeguards against suicidal thoughts for youth,” said Cathy Davis, suicide prevention coordinator with the Utah State Board of Education. “Including youth in decisions that affect them, setting clear expectations and rules, ensuring youth are able to ask for and receive help when needed, giving them opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities, and providing a safe place where youth live, learn, and play can all help prevent suicides.”

Additional findings showed that among those youth who died by suicide:

  • 55.3% experienced a recent crisis within two weeks of the death (family relationships and dating partner problems were the most common recent crisis)
  • 23.9% disclosed their intent to die within one month prior to their death
  • 20.5% had a history of cutting or had evidence of recent cutting
  • 12.6% experienced family conflicts as a result of restriction to technology use or that resulted in a restriction to technology, such as having a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or gaming system being taken away by a parent or guardian
  • Of the 40 cases that had information on the decedent’s sexual orientation, six (15.0%) were identified as sexual minorities

The Epi-Aid team also compared the three most commonly implemented suicide prevention programs in Utah schools – QPR, Hope Squads, and Hope for Tomorrow – to national recommendations for suicide prevention. None of the three programs have been rigorously evaluated for effects on suicidal behavior, although findings from less rigorous evaluation show some preliminary positive results.

The CDC made the following recommendations based on these findings:

  • Increase access to evidence-based mental health care for youth
  • Strengthen family relationships
  • Promote connectedness within the home, peer, school, and community environments
  • Identify and provide support to youth at risk of suicidal behaviors
  • Prevent other forms of violence among youth
  • Reduce access to lethal means
  • Teach coping and problem solving skills
  • Consider comprehensive and coordinated suicide prevention programs that address multiple risk and protective factors simultaneously
  • Conduct ongoing comprehensive evaluation of suicide prevention programs

Suicide is a complex behavior with multiple risk and protective factors. “No one prevention strategy will work to prevent all suicides. However, implementing comprehensive, coordinated prevention programs will be effective and likely reduce suicidal behaviors among Utah youth,” said Myers.

To get involved in suicide prevention efforts in Utah or to find a suicide prevention training near you, visit

A three-page summary report of the findings is available at The complete CDC investigation report is available at

Trailside Mileage Club logs 2,924 miles so far this year

The 429 members of Trailside Elementary’s Mileage Club have already logged 2,924 miles so far this year. On Nov. 21, the students logged 140 miles, despite the rain and the wind.

The program, sponsored by the school’s PTO, is a running/walking club that encourages students to get exercise during their lunch recess. The PTO encourages teachers, parent volunteers, and younger siblings to join in the run. Some 46 students have already run more than 13 miles and are considered “All Stars.”

“The amazing Jess Lerner moved to Park City this past summer from a school in Colorado that had a Mileage Club. After becoming our PTO vice president of Health and Wellness, she introduced the idea to us,” said Megan Luckan, co-PTO president at Trailside this year with Melanie Smith. “We were so taken with the idea of fostering continued group activity at recess, and the physical and mental health benefits of the exercise, that our PTO Board voted unanimously to have her start it.”

Parent volunteers help set up and take down, cheer runners on, hand out awards and track laps.

The Mileage Club offers students the opportunity to build self-esteem, improve their health, and experience their own personal power. Based on a non-competitive philosophy, the Mileage Club focuses on the completion of both personal and collaborative goals.

This is the last week of the Mileage Club, with runs planned for Tuesday and Thursday (Nov. 28 and 30), from 11-12:30 p.m. Once students have completed four laps they receive a charm. This week’s charm is a snowman.

PCSD closing all schools to open enrollment for 2018-19

The Park City School District Board of Education voted Nov. 21 to close all its schools to open enrollment for the 2018-19 school year. No new out-of-district students will be accepted next year. The board made the decision to maintain program offerings while holding class sizes to manageable levels.

Out-of-district students who are currently attending PCSD schools will be allowed to remain within the school system, but if they are moving from one school to another in 2018-19, they will need to submit an open enrollment application.

PCSD employees will continue to be allowed to register their children in PCSD schools.

The district currently has 168 out-of-district students attending its schools, 33 of which are children of employees.


Board Meeting Summary

Nov. 21, 2017 | Regular Session

New Board Member Appointed

The board appointed Erin Grady as the new board member for District 5, replacing Julie Einhausen who will step down Feb. 5, 2018.  Grady has lived in Park City for 34 years and currently serves as co-president of the PTA at Parley’s Park Elementary. She is a board member of PC READS and the Figure Skating Club of Park City. For 12 years she served as communications manager for Deer Valley Resort.  

Closing Schools to Open Enrollment

The board voted to close all PCSD schools to open enrollment for the 2018-19 school year. Out-of-district students currently attending PCSD and moving to a different school in 2018-19 will need to submit an open enrollment permit. No new out-of-district students will be accepted in the district next school year.

Superintendent’s Report

-Superintendent Ember Conley reported on her visit to the Western States Resort Superintendent Conference in Telluride, Colo. Participants discussed mental health, affordable housing for staff, bonding, student incentive programs, and staff recruiting.

-The Superintendent said the district is currently evaluating three certified educator evaluation systems, and is beginning Open Office Hours every other month starting Nov. 29 from 2:30-4 p.m. in the Board Rooms.

-Dr. Conley reported that the administration has reviewed protocols and policies related to the district’s emergency plan and is making improvements to the existing plan.

PCEA Report

Ben Kahn, representing the Park City Education Association, said the association’s membership has grown to 276 members, an increase of 36 this year. He said PCEA has an active interest in supporting provisional teachers, retaining excellent employee, and adopting an objective and equitable certificate evaluation system.  Kahn said PCEA is anxious to clear up lingering issues of off-contract pay and to have a voice at the negotiating table.

Communications Report

-Melinda Colton, Director of Communications, noted the newsroom blog has moved to the district website. After Thanksgiving it will be publicized to parents and the community.

-PCSD Chat was launched Oct. 25 and texts were sent to 5,345 parents. Each was asked to rate the district communications on a scale of 0-10.  With a response rate of 67.4 percent, the overall rating was 8. In addition, the district received 1,799 communication compliments and/or suggestions for improvement.

-Colton is working with AtlasRTX to develop a texting system that can text communications to parents faster.

-Eric Esquivel, Latino Outreach specialist, provided the Board with a written report of the the Latino communications efforts, by school.

Budget Discussion

Business Administrator Todd Hauber reviewed the fiscal year 2019 budget considerations with the board, including the anticipated tax increase identified in last year’s budget cycle.

Safety and Health Updates

Dr. Conley said emergency procedures will be updated to include a clear protocol for students staff housed in portable classrooms. She commended law enforcement for its quick action and arriving at Kearns Campus schools within five minutes of a recently reported incident. This incident showed the need for clear communication to students who are moving between buildings on the Kearns Campus. Staff need additional training, and technology needs to be updated in parts of the high school. She said students need to be trained to text appropriate information to their parents.  Our emergency posters need to be posted in every classroom in PCSD schools, both in English and Spanish, and a smaller postcard version will be printed to give to visitors in the building. Board President Andrew Caplan suggested the board discuss hiring a consultant to look over PCSD’s safety protocols and assist staff with additional training and drills. The superintendent said she has already reached out to three consultants to see what services they can offer the district.

Review Safety Policies

The board asked that district safety policies be updated to include specific penalties and repercussions for staff who fail to follow proper protocols. Board member Julie Eihausen asked the board to be careful about any punitive action and to make sure there is balance. Caplan said if the board is going to ask this of employees, it needs provide proper training.  Board member Petra Butler said we need to hire staff who make good sound judgments and said the district does not want to be in a situation where an administrator doesn’t know what to do.  Board Vice President JJ Ehlers requested substitute teachers also be trained on emergency protocol and safety procedures.

Master Planning Consultant

The board approved the hiring of Collaborative Learning Network to guide the district on the process for master planning. A committee comprised of a board member, community member, and business administrator reviewed RFPs and submitted a recommendation.

Policies for Posting

The board approved posting the following policies for review:

-Policy 3005: School Community Councils

-Policy 7015: Alcohol & Drug Free Workplace

-Policy 7171: Licensed Public Employees Personal Reporting of an Arrest

Public Comment

-Ann Futch asked the board why the district has not clarified its decision planning process and improved communication with staff. She was a member of the 2015 Teachers Survey subcommittee that made recommendations for improvement to the district.

-David Hickman reported his daughter’s class at McPolin Elementary was sent back outside to their portable classroom during the lockout. He wants the district to acknowledge its mistakes with the recent incident and encouraged more training and drills.

Board Approves Updates to Strategic Plan 

Based on feedback from the community, parents, and employees, the board approved the following updates to the district’s Strategic Plan—2018-2022:

Mission: The mission of Park City School District is to inspire and support all students equitably to achieve their academic and social potential.

Vision: Park City School District is student-centered​ ​with a focus and emphasis on the whole child.  Our students are safe, supported, engaged, challenged, and healthy.


-Academic​ ​Success: We are committed to engaging all students to reach their full potential no matter where they are in their academic journeys.

-Leadership: We are committed to continuous development, accountability, and transparency.

-Excellent​ ​Personnel: We are committed to hiring the best and the brightest staff in a transparent and fair manner.

-Communication: We are committed to communicating with all stakeholders in an open, timely, and consistent manner.

-Community​ ​Alliances: We are committed to a culture of collaboration with our community partners.