On July 3rd, the Park City Board of Education unanimously ratified the school budget for the 2018-19 school year, along with the proposed $5.6 million tax increase. The vote was taken immediately following one extended comment from a member of the public who wanted to understand the School Board’s decision on the new Superintendent’s compensation package. Click here to see the Superintendent compensation package. Carolyn Murray has this:
On June 21st, the Park City School Board approved the 2018-19 Budget by a vote of 4 to 1 with Board Member Petra Butler dissenting. In the most recent July 3rd meeting, all five school board members voted in favor of passing the budget for next year, along with the 2018 revised budget and a $5.6 million tax increase. The tax increase is not final until the Truth and Taxation meeting scheduled for 6 pm on August 14th. According to Business Administrator, Todd Hauber, another tax increase of similar size is expected for next year. Butler explained her reasons for changing her vote from the June 21st meeting.
“I just want to make it very clear as to why I didn’t vote with the budget at our last meeting on the 21st. I want people in the community to understand I didn’t have questions with regard to the positions themselves. My questions surround the “on boarding” of all these employees as well as the timeline for that to take place. I just want to make sure we are all clear on that. I’m going to ratify this because as a board, we’ve made the decision that this is what we are going to do moving forward and I support the decisions that are made by this board.”
Beverly Harrison was the only person who gave input to the school board during the July 3rd meeting. She asked the board to be more proactive in their communication and that in particular she was concerned and confused about the decision to provide housing as part of the new Superintendent’s compensation package.
School Board President Andrew Caplan says it’s a shared community interest to have a Superintendent live within the district and he says other districts have bought homes for their employees and the property would remain as an asset on the school district’s balance sheet.
Harrison says she understands that the new superintendent is coming from Greenwich Connecticut which is an expensive place to live.
“But what kinds of precedent is it setting. I really thought I heard Leslie interviewing a person from the school who said if the woman doesn’t take advantage of this housing incentive that those moneys….it was like I lost it then, the moneys…we’d buy a house anyway….and in the future a superintendent might opt to live in it…I don’t know..”
Caplan: “We’re not purchasing a home and giving it to someone…”
Harrison: “It’s like the district will own this home? This is radical in my mind.”
School Board President, Andrew Caplan says they have set aside a million dollars in the capital budget to purchase a home for the incoming Superintendent with the intention for it to be used for future employees. He says it’s potentially a good investment for the district in the long term.
Harrison says the Board’s decision needs further communication to the public because the overall compensation package, including the housing benefit, is confusing to the public. Caplan says KPCW’s reporting is the cause of Harrison’s confusion specifically stating the station uses shock value and click bait when reporting on school board decisions.
Harrison: “So that’s a million and her salary ………”
Caplan: “So the salary is 235 and I think she (Ember Conley) was 185-187…something like that. So it represents a 20---25% increase…to what she was making…It’s not you know, on a head line basis, you know for KPCW’s shock value and click bait..it’s a ..um... big number…. And they love to put the all in, including our URS (Utah Retirement Service) retirement benefits and our generous Health Care package to try to shock people and get them upset, when actually we are only talking about a 20 to 25 percent increase and….”
Harrison: “But it is shocking….it is shocking for a community member, for us in the community to hear about a housing allowance for a superintendent that you said is happening…it’s new. It’s unheard of in terms of general public”
Caplan: “Yea it’s definitely new.”
Harrison: “And I know there’s been really strong negative reaction to spending 1.3 million on salary and compensation.”
School District Business Administrator, Todd Hauber says the base salary and benefits package for the new superintendent represents a 24. 5% increase over Superintendent Conley who departed the district in June to run the 60,000 student Mesa Arizona Unified School District. Hauber doesn’t know what the annual taxable benefit for Superintendent Gildea would be until they purchase a property. He says he’ll know that value once they have identified the actual purchase price of a new home.
“Yea, that will be a tricky one too, because I don’t have enough details either because we don’t have a house or a residence to figure out a value computing to what that might represent. Probably at the end of the day, I ‘ll have to use something like an IRS guideline as a taxable fringe benefit so at that point when we get that far along, I’ll have a number.”
Harrison asked the board to continue to provide the details whenever they have the opportunity. Caplan says he has an ongoing issue with the way KPCW reports on School Board decisions.
Harrison: “Whenever we talk on the radio, think of me as a sample size of one and all the people that aren’t here….”
Caplan: “Well that’s an ongoing concern of ours is our relationship with the radio and how that comes out and so, we agree with you, we’re not happy with the reporting and the coverage necessarily that we get ….It’s an ongoing…it’s an ongoing issue…so…but thank you so much Beverly.”
Board member, Ann Peters says they engaged the community in the Superintendent selection process and decisions to provide housing were supported by the committee and the consulting firm which was hired to do the search.
Harrsion: “I feel better, I can hardly fathom it….but I still….”
Peters: “ I feel like we are embarking on a new chapter in this district..so with her leadership, with Dr. Gildea’s leadership…I mean…yes…exactly…correct..”
Harrison: “I mean you’re ready, we are ready to do some…we’re ready to move forward in an unbelievably…you know unquestionable positive direction? You all feel, like obviously feel like ..this is going to work for us..?”
The next school board meeting will be the Truth in Taxation hearing on the $5.6 million dollar increase on August 14th at 6 pm in the district offices on Kearns Boulevard.