UPDATED: Public Discovers It's Locked Out Of Park City School Bond Hearing
The Park City School District Board is scrambling Thursday to respond to a problem during Tuesday’s bond hearing. The doors were locked, so people interested in attending were not able to enter the building.
Earlier this week, KPCW reported the $79 million school bond public hearing was not attended by anyone. On Wednesday KPCW learned that two people tried to enter the PCSD offices a little after 6 PM on Tuesday which by law must be held prior to a final ballot referendum. The doors to the building had locked so no one could enter the building. According to School Board President Erin Grady, it was unintentional.
“Our understanding was that the door was unlocked. Somehow, I think somebody must have left and tripped it and it relocked. So that was definitely something on us, and something that we're actually in the process of working with the state to see if we can add an additional hearing because of that, that I'm waiting to hear back from the state to see if we're allowed to. We did have somebody that was able to come in and listen to the meeting, but they did not have a comment.”
Board member Andrew Caplan told KPCW in an interview on Wednesday that there was no public comment given during the hearing. However, there was a written email comment from Early Childhood Alliance Executive Director Kristen Schulz supporting the bond referendum. Her email was read by Board Vice President Wendy Crossland. The email was read a few minutes after six, after the hearing opened to the public.
She said Board Member Caplan was mistaken to say in the KPCW interview that there was not any public comment on the bond.
“I think Andrew just didn't even think about the email and honestly I think that just was not. I think he was thinking when you asked him, did anybody actually stand up and so I think it was just that was it. It was not like an intentional misstep I think he was just like, oh, no, nobody was actually there to public comment. So, I think that's what, when they asked, I think that's what he was referring to.
In Utah, a bond referendum requires a public hearing, so taxpayers have a chance to publicly state their comments about the bond. The hearing notice requires a time and location. Summit County Clerk Evelyn Furse said the school district has enough time to comply with the bond election guidelines.
“There is both a public hearing and a public meeting, and they can be held at different times, or they can be held at the same time. And so, it's at the public meeting that you need to read the pro and the con, so I'm not entirely sure what effect that problem would have on the election. What I can say is there is still plenty of time to have a hearing that would meet these requirements. If they chose to re-notice it.”
Grady said the Board is legally required to remain neutral and not endorse or oppose the bond at this stage of the referendum process. Furse said the school board must hold a hearing no less than five days before and no more than 30 days before the election notice is posted.
“And the election notice has to get posted at least three weeks before the election.”
On Thursday night, Erin Grady published a Board of Education UPdate on the school district newsroom site. It says the board scheduled an informal Community Forum for October 7, 6:00 to 6:45 PM, at the Ecker Hill Middle School Auditorium Commons. She said two BOE members and district administrators will provide information on the bond proposition, listen to public feedback, and answer questions on the master facility plan projects. The session will be recorded and shared on the Board of Education webpage
The school district has not announced a re-notice of a bond hearing at the time of this report.