The Park City School District Board of Education hosts monthly informal meetings so that it can engage parents and members of the community. The following items were discussed April 18 at Trailside Elementary School with board member Petra Butler.
Superintendent Search Update
The board recently approved the appointment of David Gomez as Interim Superintendent. Mr. Gomez was previously the principal at Parley’s Park Elementary. Dr. Ember Conley began conversations a few weeks ago with the board regarding her transition as the new superintendent of Mesa Public Schools. She felt it was in the best interest of the district to appoint an Interim Superintendent. Mr. Gomez will remain in place until a new superintendent is officially on board.
The board met last Tuesday with HYA consultants, who are conducting the national search for a new superintendent. Butler said the board narrowed the field from 30-40 candidates to less than 10 semi-finalists. The board is appointing a 10-member committee comprised of five employees and five community members to assist in the selection of the next superintendent. Semi-finalists will be interviewed May 5. The candidates will be interviewed by both the committee, and by the board. Finalists will be selected, with interviews set for May 18.
In addition to Interim Superintendent, the following interim positions have also been filled:
–Interim Associate Superintendent for Teaching & Learning: Traci Evans
–Interim Principal at Ecker Hill Middle: Sam Salinas
–Interim Principal at Parley’s Park Elementary: Tracy Fike
Master Planning Update
A parent asked for an update on a potential fifth-, sixth-grade campus. Butler said the board is focused on moving forward with the master planning process. The board recently hired NV5 out Denver, Colo., as master planning consultants. Business Administrator Todd Hauber said NV5 will coach the board through the master planning process and bring technical experts on board, as well as forming a steering committee.
Hauber said NV5 will find out how the community envisions the district and how that supports the vision of the master plan. Butler said the board is coming to master planning without any agenda. She emphasized that the outcome of master planning will be part of the community long after the board is gone.
Currently, the district is providing NV5 with data that it will study throughout the summer. This fall, more intense and longer conversations will occur with the community. A draft of NV5’s plan is expected in January 2019. Hauber said the plan will not look at individual circumstances and facilities but will be the vision that needs to be considered as the board makes future decisions. Butler said NV5 will, in essence, provide the board with a roadmap to move forward.
One parent expressed concern about too much testing occuring this time of year. She also asked for an update on where the district is with standardized grading. Communications Director Melinda Colton said the district is just finishing an audit of the actual time students spend testing; that audit will be released in the coming weeks. Trailside Elementary Principal Carolyn Synan said all schools are all looking at standardized grading.
A parent said the schools are not showing sustainable progress to close the achievement gap. She feels it is important for programs and assessments to be part of the master planning process.
One parent asked why PowerSchool and Canvas do not interface. She asked that there by one system for parents to check. She encouraged the board to have the current software systems evaluated for efficiency and ease of use for parents.
A retired teacher reminded the board to be fiscally responsible to taxpayers. The anticipated tax increase combined with a potential bond down the road, he worries that taxpayers will say “enough.” He asked the board to be more frugal with day-to-day spending and to be careful with funding contributed by the community. Butler said the board continues to ask a lot of questions in an effort to be transparent about what it is spending tax dollar on and why it is a necessity.
Securing School Front Entries
A parent expressed her frustration with the lack of security as parents enter schools. She is appreciative of the remodeling of the front offices that is occurring, but says something needs to be done in the meantime to secure the front entries until the front offices are finished. She asked the board to consider hiring additional personnel to check parents in and out. Butler said the district’s safety consultant recommended against hiring security guards or off-duty police officers. It will be not be effective unless someone is guarding every door that goes into the school. County and city law enforcement have increased their patrols at all schools.
A parent asked about the district’s efforts for recruiting difficult to fill positions. Butler said that will be one of the board’s priorities for the incoming superintendent.
The board’s next Information Exchange Meeting is Wednesday, May 9, at 6 p.m. at the Park City Learning Academy, 2400 Kearns Boulevard.