Board Meeting Summary

Feb. 27, 2018 — Regular Session

Moment of Silence

At the request of Superintendent Ember Conley, a moment of silence was held in memory of the 17 victims who lost their lives at Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.

Safety Consultant’s Report to the Board

Cole Smith, a safety and security expert with the Tresit Group, presented the board with his analysis for safety. Smith is a former Special Agent for the Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service. “Park City School District has been extremely proactive in their response to school safety and emergency procedures,” 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 school upgrades for access controls.”  Smith commended the district’s willingness to improve security procedures, visitor access, and perimeter security are in line with best practices. He reminded the board that the report will not guarantee the practices put in place will completely stop and eliminate all threats in schools. “A trained teacher who can make decisions is by far the best. All improvements, additions, and procedures will complement a well-trained teacher.” The report 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 full report can be accessed here.

Superintendent Search Update

Darline Robles and Carmella Franco, consultants from HYA Executive Search, presented the Leadership Profile which was compiled from input gathered during more than 40 focus groups/interviews and an online survey. The full profile can be viewed here. Highlights from the Leadership Profile include:

–Strengths That Should be Continued or Expanded: high standards for academic achievement,  safe schools, strong sense of community, variety of programs to meet diverse student needs, curriculum (technology and DLI), community partners, innovation, focus on mental health wellness, and the quality of teachers, administrators, and staff

Challenges and Concerns the New Superintendent will face and should address: communication, equity and access, facilities and growth, uniqueness of district, lack of leadership from the top, organizational management, organizational health, lack of focus on eliminating the achievement gap, and lack of leadership for English Learners and DLI program

Desired Characteristics Essential in the Next Superintendent: One who has a proven track record and can develop a strong partnership with the Board of Education.  One who will foster a climate of mutual trust and respect in order to continue to attract and retain outstanding employees; as well as be an accomplished and experienced instructional leader with knowledge of best practices while demonstrating integrity and a professional presence.  A superintendent that is a visionary, an  excellent communicator and collaborator is preferred.  Other essential attributes desired are: fiscal acumen, politically  savvy, effective manager of the system, and knowledgeable about facilities.

The first round of interviews is tentatively scheduled for April 27-29, with final interviews tentatively scheduled for May 5-6. The board anticipates extending an offer to a candidate by mid-May.

School Start Times Update

Superintendent Conley provided the history of the school start times proposal, stating there was a past motion (made June 6, 2017) on the floor from the Board to implement new start times for the 2018-19 school year. The administration gathered the details of that motion and what it would look like financially. That information is included in the preliminary budget discussions. The budget will not be voted on until the end of April. The board is also looking at the timing of master planning and if it should wait to make any major changes in school start times. Dr. Conley said there are some traffic solutions being discussed by the city and county, but those solutions are down the road. Vice President JJ Ehlers said the discussion will continue March 6 when more board members are present.

PCEA Report

Ben Kahn, co-president of PCEA, reminded the public that the upcoming tax increase is a result of increased spending across the district, and not just a salary increase for teachers. PCEA wants representation on hiring committees. And Kahn said there was lack of transparency on start times being discussed by the Board tonight. Vice President Ehlers reminded Kahn that start times is only a discussion item because it is included in the preliminary FY19 budget.

PCCEA Report

Colleen Mutcher, president of the Park City Classified Education Association, expressed concerns on behalf of the Transportation Department, about the two-bell schedule. Transportation employees have a lot of concerns about the cost of implementing the new start times, the need for 8-10 new buses, the need for 10 new drivers, and the possible loss of benefits.

Communications Report

Melinda Colton, Director of Communication, reported on the Utah School Public Relations Association’s strategic effort to use district social media channels to push out safety messages, protocols, and resources following the Stoneman-Douglas High School shooting. Colton also said she has been working with Human Resources to develop its online presence for the Education Week Online Job Fair set for March 1. PCSD will be recruiting teachers nationally for the 2018-19 school year. At the request of the board, she is working with the HYA consultants who are conducting the Superintendent Search.

Budget Discussion

Business Administrator Todd Hauber presented $5.7 million in capital outlay recommendations to the board for FY19. The recommendations can be viewed here.

Patron Comments

–Lauren Strachan, a parent who has served on the school start times committee, said the committee approved a two-bell system for an 8:30 a.m. or later start time in schools to assist students in their mental health and well being. She suggested the board considered pushing all start times back 25 minutes so that school buses will not be on the roads during peak traffic times.

–Sharon Maddux, a teacher at Treasure Mountain Junior High, said she attended board meeting thinking a vote was taking place on school start times. She expressed frustration that there has been no communication on this issue with stakeholders, especially teachers. Maddux said this issue will impact every staff member in the district. She believes start times would be better coordinated with the possible realignment being discussed as part of the master planning process.

–Elissa Aten, co-founder and president of PC Reads, said the Wilson Fundations reading program has been well received in the elementary schools. She asked the board to support the addition of four Tier 3 intervention specialists. She said these positions are critical because of the great need for intervention.

–Jim Tedford, a retired teacher, said arming teachers with guns is a very bad idea. He urged the board to support the students movements on this issue, whether locally or nationally. He applauds the students who are starting this movement. He encouraged the board to facilitate any students activities, within reason, that support this national movement.

3 thoughts on “Board Meeting Summary”

  1. Under the “Strengths That Should be Continued or Expanded” for a new superintendent, we have both “high standards for academic achievement” and “focus on mental health&wellness.” What we will need in a new super is one who recognizes – as Ember does, I believe – that these two “strengths” are in conflict if not mutually exclusive. As long as our district’s focus is on student “achievement” rather than learning per se, we will struggle with student mental health.

    Our new superintendent will need to help us transition away from traditional assessment/reporting systems that merely sort our children into GPAs for the convenience of college admissions, and replace those systems with assessment and reporting that measure authentic learning, probably some form of real standards-based reporting.

    Park City will always have a great number of students who are attractive to selective colleges, regardless of our assessment/reporting mechanisms. But we need systems that report the progress of all students, systems that let the steam out of the achievement culture pressure cooker so that our children can be healthy and happy learners.

    Moving to real standards-based education will in fact elevate our academic standards as it alleviates the stress from our current “race to nowhere.” A new superintendent will have to help all of our stakeholders understand the body of evidence that compels this shift.

    Can we revise the Leadership Profile to say “high interest in progressive assessment and reporting systems” in lieu of “high standards for academic achievement”?

  2. Please! Please! Please address the “start times” issue. It is unconscionable to continue to have kids with a high school workload and adolescent circadian clocks rising at or before 6 am in order to be at school by 7:35 am. It feels as though we’ve dropped the ball on this issue. I’d like to know if there is any chance start time changes will be implemented for Fall 2018?

    We need to make sure that all kids who have cell phones have cell SERVICE inside the school buildings, both common areas and classrooms. The importance of this was demonstrated clearly in the Stoneman-Douglas incident, wherein kids provided valuable information to their parents while trapped inside the school. Is this being assessed? It should be an URGENT PRIORITY!

  3. The Start Times issue seems convoluted and expensive. Option 3 reduces the financial burden but separates elementary schools into two start times, which can be problematic for elementary school coordination among teachers and staff. If that could be solved, might we have a solution? I would brainstorm with teachers and staff to help us all resolve it so maybe we can have a favorable outcome for the upper grades. Elementary school kids tend to go to bed and arise earlier, while teens need that extra sleep in the height of physical, emotional, and hormonal growth. All of our outstanding projects in this district will be incorporated into the Master Plan, which will help ensure that one project does not negatively impact another. I would rather have a solid decision that meets our future goals and needs than one that will end up being changed again in two years because its potential impact was not considered in the planning phase. Thanks to our Board members for doing things in an orderly fashion, putting the puzzles pieces together. It’s not easy.

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