The Park City School Board voted 4 to 1 in favor of adopting the revised 2018 school budget along with the new 2018/19 budget. Board Member Petra Butler was the sole dissenting vote. The budget includes a $5.7 million tax increase proposal this year and another similar amount next year in addition. Carolyn Murray has this:
There are 21 new positions proposed for the 2018/19 school year. Board Member Petra Butler says administration doesn’t have systems or resources to make a smooth transition for the new hires.
“And the reason I want to address that issue is we on boarded a number of employees last year and the process was not very good and nothing has changed. We haven’t added an additional person to HR. We really don’t have a strategic plan in place that really has a successful on boarding component to it.”
Butler says this is a big issue for the new Superintendent to deal with especially since she is also new to the district.
“It’s something that will now fall to the new incoming superintendent and I really want to set the superintendent up for success. There are a number of issues she is going to need to tackle when she comes into the district and I just would have liked to see a strategic plan so this wouldn’t be one more thing she has to address.”
Last year the, Administration hired approximately 20 new employees and this year they’re creating another 21 new positions.
“Well it’s a lot more than 21 because I don’t think people realize that when we create a new position, many times they’re filled by people within the district so when you vacate their spot, and you move into a new spot, there’s a lot of training and on boarding that goes along with that new position, but you also have to fill the position that you vacated.”
She says she could not vote in favor of the budget because last year’s process was not effective.
“I learned from the positions we on boarded last year, and even former Superintendent Conely stated at one of the board meetings we didn’t do a really good job. And so….you know I thought it was incumbent on the fact that I thought we needed to address that issue.”
Butler says they needed deeper discussions on the priorities of the newly approved positions. She says they talked about an optimum number of new hires in prior board meetings.
“And that number was in the neighborhood of 12 to 15. The board was trying to make a determination about how critical these positions were and I just wish we would have had a little bit more discussion about the priority that was associated with those positions. What are the priorities for the district as we move into next year. Then I would have really liked to have seen the positions that we were hiring aligned with those priorities.”
She is involved with the district mental health initiative which includes partnering with Connect Summit County and the Mental Health Alliance. There are two School Psychologists on staff for the 5000 student population. Butler wants to see more behavioral health experts hired.
“So for me that would have been a priority. Behavioral Specialists, more counselors in our schools…I think that is something that will have to be addressed as we move forward next year. We kind of re-focus on what are the priorities of the district and if mental wellness is going to be a priority of this district and if so, how are we going to address that?”
Butler says currently the two school psychologists spend most of their time putting out fires and it ultimately is a disservice to students.