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Park City School District Board members divided on superintendent performance review process

Park City School District.
Kristine Weller
Park City School District board members Meredith Reed and Nick Hill are sworn in January 2023.

Two Park City School District Board of Education members say they have never been part of a review process for the superintendent. Here's more on conflict surrounding the school district leader’s contract.

Park City School District Board President Andrew Caplan told KPCW the board plans to renew Superintendent Jill Gildea’s contract this year. Soon after, some district parents created a Change.org petition requesting the district wait to decide on the contract renewal until new school board members take office in January 2025.

Gildea’s contract expires June 30, 2025, and the board must notify Gildea in writing if it does not intend to renew her contract by February 1, 2025. If the board doesn’t send notice, the contract automatically renews for an additional two-year term.

Caplan said the typical procedure is to inform the superintendent in June or September the year prior if they don’t intend to renew. That’s around the time, he said, when her performance review is finished.

The district told KPCW it’s standard practice to conduct a performance review for the superintendent each year. Caplan said a formal review of Gildea’s performance has occurred each year since she was hired.

However, board members Nick Hill and Meredith Reed say no performance reviews have been done since they were sworn onto the board in January 2023. Reed says, from her understanding, Gildea has not had a performance review since she became superintendent in 2018.

Caplan said in past years, the board president and vice president would drive the performance review process.

“Board leadership will, so that's the president, the vice president, will reach out to every board member, get a list of things that we feel like the superintendent has done well, a list of things that they haven't done very well,” he said. “Leadership will discuss the topic of renewal or non-renewal, and then we'll give her a formal performance evaluation and discuss her goals for the following year.”

Reed said she has not been part of a process like this.

“I have never been asked by any of my fellow board members my thoughts on any feedback on the performance of the superintendent,” she said. “Some informal questions, which A. haven't happened, and then if they had, that's still not thorough performance evaluation.”

Hill said he was also not involved in a performance review of the superintendent in 2023 when he joined the board. So, he didn’t feel comfortable making an official decision.

“I declined to vote on that because I hadn't been part of any performance review at that time, and I didn't have any information about any performance review,” he said. “I still have not seen any historical performance review information.”

The board changed the performance review protocol this year at Hill and Reed’s request. The Utah School Boards Association is now facilitating the review in accordance with state guidelines. Reed said as part of the review, the association sent board members a feedback questionnaire.

Caplan said the USBA performance review data has been collected and sent to all board members. But, Hill and Reed said they have not yet received that data.

Caplan said a discussion of the review results is planned for the board’s next meeting Aug. 20 in a closed session. A vote on the contract renewal will take place during the open session. Reed said she will ask to delay the decision until January when new board members are sworn in.

“It's fine for us to have a closed session and discuss the performance review results that were generated from our assessments, but I think there's a lot more information that we need in order to make any decisions, and I think it's a decision best left for the new board,” she said.

However, Caplan said waiting might not leave enough time for a decision.

“They would have one week to review and decide on whether to renew the contract or not,” he said. “It would be simply impossible to ask three new people who have zero experience in being a school board member, or of you know, they're not familiar with her performance to do that, to make that assessment in a week.”

Reed disagrees. She said there are intelligent, thoughtful candidates running for school board who have been paying attention to district happenings.

“The last election cycle was a referendum on the school board. We essentially had two sitting board members that lost their reelection bid. We've had two incumbents who withdrew from the race,” Reed said. “The voice from our community is that they want new leadership and new direction, and I think that honoring that choice and that desire from the voters is very important as well.”

Further, Reed and Hill said the board should look into compensation packages for superintendents in ski town districts like Lake Tahoe and Breckenridge to understand if Park City School District’s superintendent contract is the best fit.

Whether it’s the current board or the new board, a decision about Gildea’s contract must be made by February 1, 2025.

Board Vice President Wendy Crossland referred KPCW to Caplan for further comment. Board member Anne Peters did not respond to KPCW’s request for comment on Monday. She dropped her bid for reelection to the board Tuesday.