A second round of master planning for the Park City School District in the last five years has been underway since last summer. In April, the process will conclude with a presentation to the Board of Education. Taxpayers and community members have the next couple of weeks to weigh in.
The Park City School District completed a strategic plan last year which defined the district’s priorities and goals. The master plan, currently underway, will implement the vision for future education.
The school district is projected to grow about one percent a year for the next 10 years according to a 2018 demographic study done by a consulting firm hired by the district.
A $56 million-dollar school facilities bond to build a new school for all 5th and 6th grades as well as remodel the high school and athletic facilities failed in 2015.
A newly seated school board said a new master plan was required and needed to be built by the community, rather than district leadership. The board says it wants this round of planning inclusive and transparent in order to avoid another failure at the polls.
Jim Tedford is a retired middle school teacher who opposed the 2015 school bond. He was selected to be a member of the master planning steering committee. It’s a group of 20 stakeholders – half of the members are from the public – the other half work for the school district, Park City or Summit County. Members have been asked to define what the future of education looks like for Park City kids. Tedford wants more participation from the community.
“Well, the process that they’ve lined out is certainly going to work a lot better, I think. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a whole lot of feedback from the community. You know, they’ve had these meetings and the one at Ecker, I think, had a dozen people and I hear the one at the high school had a dozen to 15 folks. I don’t know what these small ones are having. What kind of a turn-out they’re getting for those, so, I think it’s a good idea. I think as with anything else, it’s going to get really pressed for time at the end.”
Tedford says he’s concerned the steering committee will not have enough time before the April 16th deadline.
“But I am a little concerned about the timing from here on out. I foresee a real shortage of time to possibly complete the task at hand properly. I don’t know how they’re going to deal with that but hopefully there’ll be the opportunity to do the job right”
Tedford thinks eventually, the district will have to bond to address future facility needs. The district currently has $20 million dollars in a reserve fund to help with future capital projects. Tedford is also part of the grade realignment taskforce which is one of five task forces to address what the steering committee identified as critical issues. “I used to teach in the six, seven, eight middle school for 20 years. My two big concerns is to not have too many transitions between schools. I think that’s really tough on kids to have to change to a whole new system into another whole new system. So, I am not really in favor of a separate five-six, and a separate seven-eight school which has been proposed in the past. The other thing is I think kids should probably stay in a school for at least three years, so they don’t just move in, kind of get acquainted, then another year, they’re gone. That’s my own personal feelings.”
In addition to grade realignment, the other task forces are focused on school locations, the Kearns campus, class size, and the future of Treasure Mountain Junior High School.
All meeting schedules, agendas, and meeting minutes can be found at pcschools.us under the Future of Learning tab.
Tedford says the final grade alignment task force is scheduled to meet March 26th.
“I understand that the steering committee is going to make a recommendation, that we’re going to be presented with three options along with a cost factors and then we’ll, I guess, vote or do something that would work the best. You know, there’s also a planning committee. You’re aware of that. It’s got some administrators on it and some teachers. So, the master planning committee, I guess, has to approve things and then it goes to the school board. And, that’s about all I know.
The steering committee and consultants will present the results of the master planning efforts to the school board on April 16th. On May 26th, the board is scheduled to decide how to move forward with the options presented and whether a bond is needed.