The Park City Board of Education spent nearly eight hours this week in a team building retreat with the new superintendent and the district business administrator. As a result, the Executive Board now has a handful of unified goals and objectives for the coming year. However, most of the members said they’ve been very frustrated with public criticism of their decisions. Carolyn Murray has this:
During the two days of meetings, the board addressed issues on leadership, public relations and academic objectives.
One consistent concern from the group had to do with public perception and local media coverage of the school district. Member Petra Butler said it’s frustrating to not get recognition for their successes.
“But, you know Maryann, this board has done some fabulous things and I think sometimes those things are extremely overlooked especially when something negative happens. Things that have been accomplished in that short period of time are pretty spectacular. We, as a collective group, should be very proud of all the accomplishments we have made thus far.”
Paid consultant, Maryann Billington agreed with the Board that the national media is more favorable to the district than the local media.
“I will acknowledge when I took this on a few months ago and started gathering information, I found more positive press about Park City outside of the state of Utah than I do inside the state of Utah…(laughter)…”
“No, it’s references, it’s comparisons, it’s through the associations. It’s things that you are doing there and those are broadcast, you’re just not bringing them home."
However, school district Communications Director, Melinda Colton disagreed.
“I disagree completely with that. I’m sorry. I think that…look…KPCW and the local TV station. We average about 55 local stories a month. That’s unheard of….”
“ ugh…but what kind of stories..”
“No, I’m talking of those positive, maybe 10 percent are negative. But again, I’m just going to say it, the negative ones they remember. That’s right but I think locally, the majority of the stories that are out there are pretty great. But really, it’s hard. It looks skewed to you. I can even give you a summary of positive/negative. “
But, Board President Andrew Caplan said it’s not the quantity of the stories, it’s the one or two negative local stories that strike a chord with the community, that overshadows the positive.
But, he said that’s not a bad problem to have when community expectations are high.
“When we execute well, it’s expected, right? When we have a mistake or are going through a learning process and finding our way in something it’s easy to criticize. You know…it’s a high-quality problem, obviously. That’s the press thing. You see all these things nationally. Locally, it’s not the story. Locally, the story is well we should have done this differently or we could have done this differently and that’s okay.”
Board of Education President, Andrew Caplan.