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Election Preview: Park City School Board Seat 4

Summit County

As mail-in ballots arrive in your mailbox KPCW is interviewing local candidates about their platforms. Park City School Board Seat 4 is being vacated by JJ Ehlers who is not seeking another term. Appearing on the ballot to fill that seat is Vicky Fitlow and Kara Hendrickson.

Vicky Fitlow has lived in Park City with her husband and children for over 18 years. Fitlow is an attorney who has practiced law in Park City during those 18 years. She became involved in education while her children attended the Weilenmann School of Discovery. Fitlow is a member of the charter school’s board.

“I’ve been a classroom volunteer making copies.” Fitlow continued, “I run a mean laminating machine and I’ve done everything that I could behind the scenes to support teachers and make sure that they have everything that they need to be able to be extraordinary for students. Loved the opportunity to get involved at the ground floor. It’s a public charter school, it’s funded by the state of Utah. For the last four years I’ve been able to serve on their board of directors, one year as chair.”

Kara Hendrickson is a recently retired school teacher. She taught for 30 years including 16 years at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School. Hendrickson said her family moved to Park City because she recognized the great education the district provides.

“This is by far the premiere school district for public schools in the state.” Hendrickson explained, “Because I’m a teacher I obviously very much care about children. I want to just give in another way instead of working with kids directly, now working for them. I know I can make a huge difference in the schools because the board would be able to have the opportunity to have an expert on the board that knows what goes on, on the ground. I think its an opportunity for the community to get the very best person they can. If they care about every student and every teacher, as I know they do, they would want to have the one with the most experience.”

Fitlow says the Park City School Board is trending in the right direction after a failed bond effort in 2015.

“That process was a yearlong process and yet people felt like at the end the community hadn’t been listened to.” Fitlow said, “Coming from the other side, you feel like you’re getting information out there, you feel like you’re listening to people, you feel like you’re bringing the community in. To hear at the end of that process that people feel like it’s been sprung on them and that they haven’t been heard is really tough. I think the lesson to take from that is to just redouble your efforts to get out there, be a part of the community, invite people in. I think this master planning project that’s underway is going about it from the right direction which is envisioning what we want our kids’ education to look like. Then working backwards from there to decide how do we get that in place? You have to just be relentless about getting information out there and about bringing people in to provide their input and to really listen.”

Hendrickson also says that she’s happy with the direction the board is moving especially as they commence a nine-month master education plan.

“We have a very cohesive board now instead of just making decisions and putting it out there for people to talk about they are now including people from the community.” Hendrickson continued, “Interested volunteers, parents, teachers, community members. It’s nothing but positive and I’d like to be on the ground floor with that as it starts. I would bring a lot to the table on that as well. I think it’s a great idea that they’ve got people running it from outside and hopefully I will be elected and will automatically be part of it but if not, I still want a say in it. It’s important that we have the teacher information.”

Fitlow feels that her time in board meetings and her understanding of the district goals help qualify her to be on the school board.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to attend all of the board meetings for the past two or three years but especially the board retreat that was held earlier this year where they had a facilitator come in and help them work on those goals.” Fitlow explained, “So, I’m a big fan of the process of going through and articulating all of the goals you could possibly have as a school board. Then the whittling those down to what are the ones that are truly overarching and important. I think they did a great job of coming up with the categories. Having seen the process gives me great confidence that they have selected the goals that are truly important to the community and to the district to set the vision and the direction for the future. I’m excited to jump in and support those goals.”

Hendrickson hopes that her experience as a teacher, along with emphasis on open communication will help qualify her to be on the school board.

“Teachers work with the children every day, they have them for most of their daylight hours.” Hendrickson said, “To have success we need to have teachers who feel supported and get what they need to do the best job they can. To make it right for our district we need to have a lot of input from all kinds of people in our district.  but I want to work on the new standard based grading. It’s going around now in the neighborhoods that not every teacher in every grade level at every school understand how to give these grades that’s one of my big issues. Again, communication and transparency with our district, I don’t know what that’ll look like. I would really like to see all board members spend time in schools, actually go into classrooms and talk to teachers rather than being segregated from it. I kind of have an agenda and whether or not it works I will learn but I bring some really fresh ideas.”

That’s Kara Hendrickson, she’s running for Park City School Board Seat 4. Her opponent is Vicky Fitlow. For more election coverage in the Wasatch Back visit KPCW.org

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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