Seven of Park City’s eight schools will be closed to out-of-district students next year.
Only McPolin Elementary school will remain open for students who don’t live within the Park City School District boundaries for the 2019-20 school year.
School closures have to be reported to the State Board of Education by the end of every year. Park City School Board President Andrew Caplan says the decision to close schools is made using a methodology that was changed a year ago. For the current school year, all Park City schools are considered closed schools. Next year, only McPolin will be open.
“It really comes down to what spaces are teachable spaces for a classroom. It’s a subjective view. The best example is a computer lab for example or a dance studio, can you use that to teach a typical English class? If you can’t then it’s not a classroom space. Our community has asked for small classes so that’s one thing that we have, and we’ve also asked for a lot of programs. So, when we have great things like coding and computer and dance and art and science and all of these things that aren’t typical in the state of Utah, we’re going to have fewer spaces for traditional classes. That means that our capacity is going to be a little bit lower than the rest of the state.”
McPolin is the only elementary school that is all dual language. Those students who live within McPolin’s boundaries and don’t want to be part of that, can move to other district schools which offer just a partial dual language experience. That has left room open in the only in-town elementary school.
“From a practical perspective I think it would be very difficult for someone to bring their child into McPolin beyond the Kindergarten or first grade year. Bringing in a fourth grader where half the day is taught in Spanish is kind of a tough ask for a child if they don’t have that language expertise. When you live in the district you can transfer intra-district very easily. For example, if you move into the McPolin but you don’t want to do duel immersion you can go to Parleys or Trailside or another school that doesn’t have dual immersion. If you’re coming from out of district, you don’t have that flexibility. So the only choice would be McPolin.”
The school district is also seeing is a number of its students looking for other educational options – and have left the local school district. The number of Park City students attending the Silver Summit Academy -- a South Summit school—doubled this year. Others are opting for charter schools like Weilenmann and the Winter School as well as private schools in the Salt Lake Valley.
“The numbers, when you just look at our enrollment looks flat to slightly down, but there is actual growth in terms of the students in our community. They’re just choosing other options as well. The Silver Summit Academy is the biggest one. We have over 80 kids who would be in the district who are there now and that’s a lot of students.”
Looking at the different types of learning styles available is part of the district’s on-going master planning process.
“that’s what we’re asking families, and parents and community members to talk to us about. How do they want their children to learn? We’ve been a very traditional district for a long time again this isn’t just a Park City thing, it’s a national trend that parents want more focus on individualized learning and they want their students to be able to learn in different ways and that’s why we’re seeing this trend towards Silver Summit and things like that. There’s a lot more project based learning and different styles of education than what we’ve traditionally taught here in Park City.”
Caplan says any changes in how material is taught – whether it’s project based, career and technology led or blended learning, will be decided by the community through the master planning process.