The Park City School District will have the new Superintendent in place by the start of school in August. She comes from the Greenwich, Connecticut school district which shares common goals and objectives. Carolyn Murray has this:
Superintendent Jill Gildea leaves the Greenwich School District effective the end of July and according to Park City Business Administrator Todd Hauber, she’ll be in Park City no later than the 23rd of August.
The Chair of the Greenwich School Board, Peter Bernstein, told KPCW that as for Dr. Gildea’s tenure with the affluent, yet diverse, public school district in western Connecticut, “Our loss is your gain.”
“She’s a very experienced, nationally known superintendent. She did great work for us. I am personally very sorry to see her go. Btu she is making a decision for her family and honestly, for somebody who has made career choices on family decisions, I get it. You know she did great here. She’s left us, I think, in a really fantastic position. She’s highly organized. She’s been everything from a teacher to a principal to an administrator to a super. So she gets the actions at each level and how they affect everything else. She’s really great.”
The Park City School District and the Greenwich School District share some objectives such as implementing the Strategic Plan and making big decisions on capital projects like new and expanded school facilities. Bernstein says Gildea made great progress in the year she was there.
“You know she helped us move our strategic plan forward. We’re in year three and I’ve seen more work this year than previously. We’ve done a lot of work on our master facilities plan. It’s a 15 year capital plan for our buildings. We have a lot of work to do. We have some very old buildings in need of tender love and care. We want to use them into the future and set them up for what we call next generation learning.”
Park City’s Board of Education voted to implement later start times last year but no time frame was set to roll it out. Bernstein says last year was their first year and Gildea was a big part of addressing some of the unintended consequences of the change and preparing their district to handle the 2018/19 school year.
“This was our first year doing it. She came into a plan that was already underway. We needed to make some modifications to it during the course of the year. Also set up some changes for next year. We had some issues with early dismissals for athletes. WE had some traffic issues and some transportation issues because bus routes had changed. We acquired a couple of extra buses for that. We had to find some practice fields due to limited fields with lighting at night. Our students have to leave earlier for athletic activities and we had concerns about missing class time.”
Bernstein says they have a 15 year master plan that includes significant capital projects for replacing and updating schools.
The Park City School District completed Strategic Planning earlier this year and will start the Master Planning process again this fall once Gildea arrives. In 2015, the master planning efforts resulted in a failed school bond initiative. It will be up to the Master Planning Committee’s findings before the board is willing to consider another attempt at a school bond referendum.
For the past 5 years, the Park City School District has worked to close the achievement gap with a variety of programs that include more individualized progress reporting. Early literacy programs, Professional learning Communities and Tiered Support Systems are programs Park City’s previous Superintendent brought to the district. Bernstein says they too have a different take on tackling the achievement gap issue.
“In fact, it was very similar to what Dr. Gildea was using in her previous district so it was an easy transition for her. She is definitely about individualized learning and that’s one of the keys to tackling the achievement gap because it’s really about what each student needs.”
Greenwich School Board member, Peter Sherr was involved in interviewing and hiring Gildea and says she exhibited strong management skills, knowledge of personalized learning, and the use of data to track student achievement. However, school funding is tied to the municipal budget in Greenwich and Sherr says that was a difficult adjustment for Gildea. Park City school funding comes from property tax valuations and the school board business is independent of the City. Sherr thinks the Park City school district budget system is a better fit for Gildea.
Bernstein is sympathetic to Gildea’s decision to leave the Greenwich School District after just 10 months, because her husband took a job in Salt Lake City. He says she complied with her contract requiring a 90 day notice of her departure.