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School Board Property Tax Increase Will Not Be Postponed Because of PC CAPS Building Deferral

Someone contacted us and asked if property taxes increases would be delayed due to the PC CAPS building being put on hold. The answer is no.

The School Board voted to increase property taxes in order to accommodate student growth. It wasn’t directly tied to the Professional Studies Building that was agreed upon but is now delayed — awaiting a needs assessment.

 

School Board Postpones Decision on Professional Studies Building Indefinitely Without Any Discussion?

On Tuesday the Park City School Board was supposed to vote to re-affirm their commitment to the $5.7 million Professional Studies building that would hold PC CAPS, among other things. In a surprise move (at least to us) School Board Superintendent Ember Conley recommended (via reading a letter she had written) postponing a decision on the Professional Services Building until a comprehensive review of the district’s building needs was completed. This was then approved unanimously by the board.

School Board president Moe Hickey was asked this morning by KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher if this is something they discussed in a closed meeting. He said no and then continued to describe why delaying a decision was important. We have watched video of the meeting a few times and it seems strange. Dr Conley reads a letter she has written about the PC CAPS building and the growth at other Park City Schools. She then cites that she and the Leadership Team think we need to perform a study of all district needs before moving forward. A motion is then made by board member Nancy Garrison to defer the decision on the building, per the letter. NO DISCUSSION around deferring the decision occurs. They then all vote for delaying it.

If we go back in time to May 20th, all members of the board (except Ms. Knauer) voted for the building. Then suddenly on Tuesday they all decide it should wait, without discussion? We get why Ms. Knauer may have voted that way but the rest? Did they all read the PTO letter that was sent out calling into question the timing of the building and then all individually decide more discussion needed to take place?

We’ll stop being coy. This is the type of decision that should have been discussed in front of the community. We’re not sure where, or if, it was discussed as a group beforehand (it shouldn’t have been discussed as a group) or if everyone just listened to Dr Conley read her letter and independently decided she was right at that moment. If members of our school board are willing to sign tax payers up for a $5.7 million building and then just let it go without discussion, it calls into question their decision making in the first place.

If they got together beforehand and decided that they needed to postpone the building due to public pressure, we are sure many people are happy with that outcome, but it’s not legal per the Utah Open Meetings Act. Legally, policy discussions are required to be made in public, except in a few, special circumstances. Again, we are not accusing them of breaking the law because we don’t know what happened. To us, watching the video, it was just weird.

Regardless, the people on the Park City School Board owe the community a discussion. By running for public office they have signed up to represent people who live here. They owe those people an explanation for why they make decisions, especially on ones this controversial and large. It’s unfortunate that they obviously don’t think that matters.

Yes. You’re Kid Finally Got a D in Something. Where Do You Go to Make Yourself Feel Better About Sage?

During Tuesday’s Park City School Board Meeting, there was a presentation on Sage. Sage is a new standardized student test required by the State of Utah. We’ve heard over the past few months how bad the results are going to be. Results will likely be released next week and at that time we will know more about how Park City kids fared versus other schools in the state.

It sounds like this test is based on high expectations and that most Utah schools fared pretty poorly. You can tell from statements made at both the state level and local level that this won’t be good. Damage control is well under way. The good news is that this is just another standardized test and doesn’t really indicate whether you’re little Suzie will be a brain surgeon or collect food stamps from the salaries of brain surgeons.

So, we look forward to the results next week. As the old Chinese proverb goes…”may you live in interesting times”.

To get more information, in preparation for the Sage results, look here:

http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/SAGE-Communication.aspx

School Board Could Educate Other Government Bodies With The Speed and Quality of Information They Provide

If you listen to representatives from our county and city, they talk about diversifying our community away from being a purely a tourist destination. They often talk about wanting to bring high tech companies to the Basin. They talk about all the things we have to offer these technology companies. It sounds so good. However, it’s easy to talk the talk but it appears walking the walk is harder.

The truth shines through when it comes to the meetings they run. In reality the only way we know what goes on in county and city meetings is to attend a meeting in person. The alternative is to wait a month or two and read meeting minutes. If you are concerned about an issue and want to know how your representatives voted, you better hope KPCW covers it the next morning. Is this 1978?

Contrast that with the Park City School Board. We wondered how the vote went on the Professional Studies Building last night. We checked the School Board web site and the results of the vote were listed by 6AM! Better yet, the video was available this morning too.

In the age of Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube what the school district has done is fabulous. Like the rest of society, they’ve embraced technology and it helps the community as a whole. What the Park City City Council, Summit County Council, and both Planning Commissions are doing — or not doing — is a disservice. How can we expect those bodies to help us transition our economy to high tech if they don’t embrace it themselves?

It’s like expecting the plough horse salesman to suggest the best SUV for your family.

We’ve been critical of how the board handles public comment; however, the speed at which this information is disseminated is best in class.

We still feel the class size issue has not been addressed and will continue to speak out on behalf of teachers for a school district that has enough money to heavily invest in programs outside the classroom. For example, I recently received a report from Ecker Hill that CTE classes average 35-38 in 3 sections, a Spanish class of 43…and other random core classes at 30 or more.

-PCEA Spokesperson during 10/21/2014 school board meeting

Definition: re-iter-vote (v.)

Definition: re-iter-vote (v.)

To vote again on something you’ve already voted for, and passed, with the stated intention of trying make sure other people know that everyone who voted for it was really, really, really behind it… but in reality just trying to convince yourself.


Example: The Park City School Board will re-iter-vote on the PC CAPS building.

Get Ready for a Treasure Mountain School Bond Next Year

In the debate over the new Professional Studies building, that the Park City School District is going to  re-iter-vote  on Tuesday, people are asking why they aren’t renovating Treasure Mountain Junior High School instead of constructing a new PC CAPS building.

During Tuesday’s School Board Meeting they included an estimate of the costs to renovate Treasure Mountain in their meeting documentation. It comes in at a cool $28 million. Currently there is only $18 million in the Capital Fund — or $13 million after the professional studies building gets built. So, either they know they can’t renovate the building because they don’t have the money or they are just waiting until next year to use the nuclear option and raise money because these kids deserve better than a building that is likely to fall on them at any moment. Our bet is on the latter.

The only question is whether they use their remaining ability to raise property taxes or whether they’ll go the bond route. Who are we kidding… Of course it will be the bond. That way they can still raise property taxes later (cue maniacal laugh). Also, according to Ballotpedia, Utah school district bonds are voted on in each odd numbered year. It just makes too much sense. Get the new building this year. By next year, everyone but Leslie Thatcher will have forgotten about this debate, and then the school board spends the next 6 month conditioning us all about the need for a new school.

So look for the school board to start brining up the issue early next spring. It will build to a frenzy around the cry of “for the kids” and you’ll read the Park Record Editorial telling you to vote for it. Then we’ll all go to the polls and…who knows. As is said in the movie Contact with Jodie Foster:

First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price.

Oh and just think what this could do for Park City’s Building industry. You read it here first.


Here is the cost estimate for Treasure Mountain renovations

 

Is Enrollment Way Up or Only a Little Bit? Depends on What They Are Selling…

We listened to School Superintendent Dr Ember Conley’s interview on KPCW and she was being questioned about the $5.7 million professional studies building they are going to vote for again tomorrow. It’s funny, though… during that interview Dr Conley repeated the idea that our school district has experienced so much growth, and therefore, facilities like these are needed.

A few minutes ago we were doing some research and saw this nugget on the footer for each school’s “About Us” Page (click image for bigger view).
265students

“The district has only increased by 265 students over the past 5 years.”

So are we experiencing extreme growth or growth of only 265 students in 5 years? We guess it depends on what they’re selling.

The Ice Arena Portion of the Basin Rec Bond May Be Reason Enough to Vote Down the Entire Thing

Note: We are writing a series of articles on the Basin Rec Bond. We feel that that the “Pro-Bond” side is getting a lot of press and wanted to provide alternate points of view.

As part of Basin Rec’s $25 million bond, they will be using $2.5 million for construction of a second sheet of ice at the Park City Ice Arena. There are three main issues with this. The first is that it’s been 7 years since the Ice Arena was constructed and it’s lost money every year.

icearenalosses

In 2013 losses increased to $170,000 per year up from losses of $136,000 in 2012. During conversations over the Ice Rink’s expansion in 2013, Mayor Dana Williams commented that he believed that the initial agreement was to not consider adding another sheet of ice until the Ice Arena broke even. That appears to still be years off.

The second issue with expansion of the Ice Arena is that they say they had to turn down 94 requests for ice time, equating to 417 hours and $131,000 in missed revenues. There are two issues with this. First, that’s $314 per hour. Currently they are brining in $114 per hour in revenues. This “untapped” market generates 3 times the revenue? Really? Second, the Ice Rink says there are 6,153 total hours available each year at the arena. So, they are missing out on 417 hours. Can they fill the other 5,736 hours at this second rink? More likely they would just spread out the traffic. Instead of having two ice sheets operating from 6 AM to Midnight, each making $670,000 per year. They probably have two ice sheets operating from 7AM to 10PM each making $350,000 per year.

Finally, and perhaps the biggest reason people may want to vote against the bond is that this $2.5 million that Snyderville Basin residents will be committed to for the next 21 years is for a “potential expansion of the Park City Ice Arena“. What? It’s not guaranteed? So the message is, please give us money, we’ll potentially use it to build another ice sheet, but if we don’t you don’t get the money back. Wow.

So, as part of this bond issue they want residents to contribute millions of dollars to something that loses money every year, probably won’t be 100% 90% 80% 70% utilized, and may or may not happen.

Like we have mentioned before, there are parts of this bond that many people probably like, like open space. However, we shouldn’t be forced to make bad investments just to get the things we as a community really want. Perhaps the only way to send the message that this isn’t acceptable is to vote down the entire bond and make them come back with individual bond offerings on the next ballot.

As always, the Park Rag does not officially endorse any candidates or many positions. You may think that adding another sheet of ice is vey important to our community…and that’s your right. We just want to point out potential issues we believe people should consider when voting this November.