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Should we convert more Park City intersections to roundabouts?

I live in Jeremy Ranch and the Jeremy and Pinebrook roundabouts are often the bane of my existence. When we did Park City Follies, we had a whole video about the roundabouts with lots of a four-letter word mixed in.

With that in mind, I came upon the most comprehensive discussion of roundabouts that I have ever read. It was amazing. I learned such facts as:

  • The Jeremy and Pinebrook “roundabouts” are actually called rotaries, due to their size.
  • One-quarter of the 35,000 traffic death per year in the US happen at intersections.
  • 0.1 percent of all crashes at roundabouts end in death. 04 percent of crashes at intersections lead to death.
  • Elon Musk says Tesla’s can’t self drive roundabouts yet.
  • It costs at least a couple of million dollars per intersection to convert it to a single lane, small, roundabout.

If you have the time, and care about roundabouts, this Freakonomics article is worth the time. In some ways they make a lot of sense.

The second most important person in the Park City School District is leaving

The most important person in the Park City School District is your kid’s teacher. The second most important person is Todd Hauber. Yesterday we learned Todd was leaving PCSD and headed to the Granite School District in mid October.

You may not be familiar with Todd, but he has been the Business Administrator for the Park City School District for a decade. You may think of PCSD as an educational environment, but as it is with most things in Utah, there is a legislative component that extends into how a business can run. Todd manages all of that for the Park City School District. Who figured out the bonds for our school expansion? Todd. Who had the foresight to ensure that our lease revenue bonds were purchased before the recent interest rate hikes? Todd. That saved us a ton of money. Who knows about every legislative change each year? Todd.

When I was running for School Board, Todd sat down with me for about 20 minutes after a school board meeting to explain a financial issue. He didn’t have to. He wanted to. He wanted to educate. He was impressive.

I have witnessed that level of knowledge and professionalism since I started following the school district when Ember Conley was Superintendent. He has always known more than most about our schools. He knows how it all works. Unfortunately that knowledge will soon be gone.

I emailed School Board member Andrew Caplan and expressed that we should do everything possible to keep Todd Hauber. He replied that they had tried but the opportunity was too great for Mr. Hauber to pass up. That’s too bad for us. I guess, our loss, is Salt Lake’s gain.

If this was baseball, we just lost our starting shortstop. We’ll need to work very hard and get pretty lucky to find someone in his ballpark.

Thanks for the decade of work Todd. We’ll miss you.

How are your Park City School District class sizes?

Last spring, there was a worry from teachers and school administrators about class sizes in our elementary schools. I wanted to check in and see how class sizes are turning out this year.

I often point out the negatives of the district; however, if they solved this potential issue, they should get the praise. So, if you are inclined, can you let me know in the comments or on Facebook what your elementary school child’s class size is and whether it’s a DLI class (Non-DLI classes were the most at-risk because DLI class sizes are limited by state law).

Thanks for the help!

Why does the Park City School District have such bad luck?

Wow. A lot of bad things seem to happen to the Park City School District.

It started with a magic rock that somehow broke the Superintendent’s kitchen window but didn’t break the window’s screen. This act of dark magic forced school board members, against their will, to chastise the community for its hatefulness.

Then some of our best teachers were not able to understand why it was a terrible idea for their kids to go to the same school where their parents taught. This caused some of them to leave and others to lose trust. More bad luck.

Then PCSD teachers who live out of the district became so mentally challenged that they couldn’t comprehend why there may be issues enrolling their kids in Park City schools.

Then the district got blindsided by the Covid mask mandates at Parley’s and wasn’t even able to communicate properly due to the stress. It made the district feel even more mistreated when the Health Department had to teach people at Parley’s Park Elementary how to wear masks.

Then KPCW, the local NPR station, was mean to the school district with the questions it asked and what it reported. The only mature recourse the school district had was to stop talking to the radio station.

Then some employees made the Park City School District look really bad by not reporting allegations of child rape and abuse. I’m sure the district felt even more like a victim when the police and sheriff had to teach their employees how to tell the appropriate people if a kid says their penis was touched by a school employee.

After that, Summit County got really angry with the district and wouldn’t allow them to build whatever they wanted without permits. That has to be a real distraction for the people trying to do God’s work. Then, Summit County had the gall to offer Park City Schools a temporary permit to make Jeremy Ranch safe for opening. What is the County trying to do? Are they trying to make the school district feel bad? There’s no way the school district should even speak to Summit County after that. See KPCW.

Most recently, we found out on Saturday that the teachers’ daycare is being shut down. Only 19 teachers used the daycare, so it probably won’t matter. We have no communication from Park City Schools on this, but who can blame the district? They are dealing with a lot of stuff right now. So, we have to assume that it is either that construction at the high school made it hard to provide, lack of funding caused it to shut down, or perhaps the devil made the daycare close. I’m sure the district couldn’t have seen this coming and had absolutely no warning. If they knew, they wouldn’t wait to announce this until three days before the school year starts. I mean, it could have impacted whether those 19 teachers looked for work elsewhere, but that wouldn’t happen at Park City Schools — not even in a teacher shortage.

There is only one conclusion to draw. The Park City Schol District is damned. It is cursed. The deck is stacked against it. I can come to no other conclusion. Naysayers might say that you reap the crop you sow, but that is totally unfair. Park City School District is doing God’s work. For proof, see what I said above.

If I were advising the top levels of the Park City School District, I would say one thing. GET OUT. This is a cursed ship. If you are Dr. Gildea, you have no control over these things. So, the best bet is to find a greener pasture.

I would say a similar thing to the school board. They get paid almost nothing and get nothing but harassment. They don’t need this. Park City is second only to Aspen with the number of board positions a resident can apply for. There are better alternatives. Let other fools try to make this school district successful.

If you are a parent, you probably don’t want to sell your house in this market. So, you’ll have to hope that you can deal with Park City High School being the 21st-ranked public high school in Utah. Batten the hatches, though, because the rankings seem to be going down — due to the curse, of course.

The Park City’s school district seems to be damned. We are like the Monkey’s Paw. We have all the wishes in the world, but each one of them goes bad.

Here’s hoping that this year is the year we beat the curse — but don’t count on it. Rumor has it that the District Office is built on a Native American burial ground.

What we have learned from the Summit County Attorney settling with Park City schools on child abuse

We learned nothing.

OK, that’s not quite true.

For those who haven’t been following the story, kids/parents reported child abuse in Park City Schools. Multiple people from the school district allegedly didn’t report child abuse to the proper authorities. The County Attorney filed a lawsuit against the school district. The County Attorney then settled with the school district under the idea that no one could prove rape or touching of a 4-year-old’s penis, so it wasn’t a big deal. The settlement also noted that no one at the district TOLD someone to cover it up, so I guess it wasn’t a conspiracy.

I think that’s where we are.

Yet, we still seem to have cases of alleged child abuse that weren’t reported by school personnel, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The County Attorney will allegedly monitor the district for two years — so I guess we have that.

What we have learned is that the penalty for not reporting child abuse is … nothing.

I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. I am Jack’s Broken Heart.

Yet, you play the game you have to play. You are dealt the hand you are dealt. Here are my takeaways:

  • If you depend on Park City schools to do anything regarding child abuse, you are misguided.
  • If you depend on the Summit County Attorney to do anything regarding child abuse in schools, you are misguided.
  • If your child is bullied, raped, touched, etc., report it to the Summit County Sheriff’s Department or Park City Police. You can’t rely on the Park City School District. If you don’t trust Summit County because you don’t trust the County Attorney, report it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or Child Help (https://childhelphotline.org).
  • Don’t trust the schools to tell you that your child was bullied, raped, or touched. Talk with your children about the issue. You likely won’t find out any other way.
  • If bad things have happened to your child, civil lawsuits appear to be your primary option. Tens of millions of dollars of lawsuits should be able to elicit change. Of course, that doesn’t help your child that was raped.

So, that is where we are. The truth doesn’t only hurt; it sucks.

Welcome to Park City.

More horrific allegations are levied against Park City School District

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting on a lawsuit brought against the Park City School District by the parents of a current second grader. The parents allege that when their child was in Kindergarten, he went into the principal’s office, was instructed to pull down his pants, and the principal touched his penis. According to the allegation, when the parents reported this to four people at the school, none of them reported this to authorities. This is one of the cases of unreported child abuse cases being investigated by the Summit County Attorney, Margret Olson.

Yet it gets worse; the lawsuit alleges that the boy has dyslexia and dysgraphia, and after the parents reported the issue, his special education services were taken away. It further alleges that due to this, the child now has difficulty spelling his name and writing ABCs.

Yet it gets worse; the lawsuit alleges that due to their child’s speech difficulties, he now gets bullied. According to the court filing, “He was punched so hard he lost sight for four days, ending up in Primary Children’s Hospital. He was kicked, choked, hit on the head, pinned to the ground, and threatened with a knife.”

Yet it gets worse; the parents allege that the school never told them about the bullying and that they found out about it from their son. The parents also allege that when they brought it up to school administrators, they were brushed off.

Yet it gets worse; according to the lawsuit, the school’s answer to these issues was that the child should transfer to a different school.

Yet it gets worse; no one from the school district will comment.

I would encourage you to read the entire article by Courtney Tanner. It’s the most damning thing I have read about Park City schools.

Here are some of my thoughts on this matter:

  • I feel for this family (and the others too), who suffer through these events. Their only recourse to affect change is to sue the Park City School District, Dr. Gildea, the School Board, the Principal, and staff members. It shouldn’t have to be like that.
  • Why is no one at the school district on administrative leave until these allegations are sorted out?
  • Can the County Attorney really settle with the school district on unreported child abuse cases after the Salt Lake Tribune article?
  • The school district’s lack of comment on this is unbelievable. Here is the problem now. The article states that the allegation about touching the boy’s penis was made against a male principal who is still listed as head of their school. That’s two people — and not hard to figure out. If the allegations are false, the school should be talking about this to support their two principals. If the allegations are true, the school should be talking about this to support the innocent man. However, as the public, we are now left gossiping, wondering, hoping, and making up our own narratives. It’s not fair to at least one of these principals.
  • Speaking of that, should you worry about sending your kid to school next year? Should I?
  • Outside of the child abuse, the lesson that the school district allegedly seems to be teaching us is, don’t speak up, or you’ll be sorry. Sounds more like the Godfather than Head of the Class.
  • If you have a special needs child, are YOU now worried whether something will happen and your child’s services will be removed? This allegation seems to be a recurring pattern in our district.
  • How many millions of dollars are we as taxpayers going to have to pay for this mess?
  • I hope this child gets the help he needs to get back on track.

This whole thing makes me sick. I’ve followed Park City Schools for a long time. There have been issues in the past. They didn’t approach the 2015 bond correctly. They retaliated against a nurse related to her standing up for the parents of type 1 diabetes children. They don’t communicate at all. They appear to have deserted our underserved kids. There is a bullying problem.

However, this is a new low. If even half of these allegations are true, we need to clean house at the top of our district.

Update:
Since writing this article, I read the court filing the Tribune’s article is based on. I have been contacted by parents worried about the allegations of sexual abuse cited in the Tribune article. Parents should know that this lawsuit isn’t actually about those charges. It sounds like either they have been investigated or are being investigated. It’s far more about bullying that has allegedly been allowed to get out of control. It’s about allegedly not protecting students. It’s about failure to report child abuse. It’s about alleged retaliation. It’s about allegedly denying civil rights. The lawsuit is about not helping a child in need.

That said, the incidents the lawsuit alleges are horrific, whether a child’s penis was touched or not.

Note: I am not going to publish the court documents, out of respect for the privacy of those involved. They are publicly available if you wish to find them.

The Winner Takes it All: Congratulations to Mandy and Meredith on the Park City School Board election

The final votes for the school board election were tallied, and I lost.

I lost by 22 votes. I always say it, and I often repeat it — the most important elections are local. It’s what impacts us every day, and it’s something we actually have a say in. Thank you to everyone who voted — no matter how you voted. So now it is up to Mandy (Pomeroy) or Meredith (Reed) to find the change we need in our school district.

If you have kids in the district, you may wonder about unreported child abuse and how that impacts your children. If you don’t have kids but pay taxes, you may wonder why the school district didn’t allow tax levies to drop off as they should have — thus increasing your taxes. Either way, you may wonder about cost overruns that seem to be happening.

You may also wonder about whether all decisions of the school board are discussed openly. You may watch meetings and wonder how all school board members came to a consensus without talking about it in an open meeting — which, of course, doesn’t seem right (or legal).

You may ask if our school Superintendent, with only 4,600 students and 7 schools, should be compensated at nearly half a million dollars per year and gets a house and gets a car.

If you REALLY care, you may ask why our caucasian students have such a good outcome, but less than 25% of our underserved students are proficient in math and English.

There are so many questions for our school district.

As I tell my kids, who try to make me feel better about my loss, “I’ve been complaining for a decade. At least I tried to do something.” Now, Meredith and Mandy have a greater responsibility. They have to actually fix it. Execution is always harder than ideas. God Speed.

There are no good or bad ideas. There is only execution.

If you are reading this, you likely care about what happens with Park City Schools, too. I would encourage you to delve deep into the issues over the next few months. The next election is huge. Two seats are up for election and the choices we make will influence the future direction of the school district.

Incumbents include Mandy Pomeroy and Erin Grady. Challengers include Meredith Reed and Nick Hill.

Do you like the School District you’ve got? If so, you have a couple of people to vote for. If not, you have a different direction that you can go.

As Thomas Jefferson said. “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”

Good luck out there.

You’re going to pay more taxes to the Park City School District than you should

Park City School District’s clarity and trust continue to take hits.

Let’s say 20 years ago PCSD took out a loan and the final payment is this month. They could either acknowledge that they have paid off their debt and let taxes drop because the school district’s loan has been paid off. Or PCSD could say, we could really use that extra money and no one will notice, so let’s keep charging it.

That’s where we are.

And that’s what the school district is doing. While the certified tax rate should drop this year to reflect the fact that the school district paid off a capital levy, the school board wants to keep the rate artificially high because they could use that money to pay for cost overruns for construction at Jeremy Ranch and McPolin. They want taxes to be about $42 higher per year, for the average house, than they should be. They hope you won’t notice.

If we delve into trust issues deeper, the school district said they wouldn’t raise taxes to fund improvements at Jeremy and McPolin. However, the improvements will increase our taxes over what they would have been. During the recent school board meeting, Andrew Caplan tried to defend the concept by saying, “The promise was that we will not raise taxes beyond the current debt service.” To me, he is parsing words. The developments at Jeremy Ranch and McPolin were supposed to be paid for by increased revenue growth and not taxes. Dr. Gildea said they would be paid for by bake sales. This is clearly not the case. The cost overruns of 1-3% are now being paid for by taxes. This is unacceptable.

Instead of decreasing the tax burden on residents, as they should be doing, the School district is trying to hide cost overruns by removing tax decreases. Yes, it is complicated, but the bottom line is that your taxes should be less than they will be.

As someone who has been following this closely it is infuriating. The district signed up for $40 million in improvements based on lease revenue bonds. These weren’t supposed to raise taxes. Now we are hearing that we will pay more in taxes than we otherwise would and that money will be used for development related to these bonds. That’s a tax increase.

It’s another example of why there is little trust in the Park City School District and why we need a change.

Park City School Board is likely violating First Amendment rights with its public comment policy

Tuesday, Park City parent Kris Choi spoke to the Park City School Board during the open comment portion of the board meeting. Her concern was regarding the superintendent’s new contract. When Ms. Choi stated the responsibilities of the superintendent and then asked why her contract was renewed given the sexual abuse scandal, school board member Andrew Caplan stated, “First, this is exactly what we stated is not allowed. Talking about a specific person is not welcome in public comment.” They shut her down.

About 30 minutes later I received a text from another parent who had apparently been watching the school board meeting. Their question was, “Josh. Quick question for you. If the PCSD Board meeting is ‘not the forum’ to ask specific questions regarding personnel, where is? Thanks!”

That’s a darn good question.

The problem is that when people have a problem with how our schools are run, where are they supposed to go? If the issue is with the Superintendent and/or the board who do they address that with? Likewise, to the person who reached out to me, I would say that all positions should be on the table for discussion. If a person has a problem with a principal, teacher, or the firing of a baseball coach they should be able to address that in front of the governing body.

The school board doesn’t have to respond. The board can listen and then thank the person for their comments. However, in the case of Ms. Choi, she was shut down because she wanted to discuss the superintendent’s contract. Previously I witnessed a substitute teacher, Sarah Altschuler, shut down because she wanted to ask questions about why she wasn’t allowed to teach at certain schools. She couldn’t even speak about herself.

It’s not right, and it’s apparently not legal.

Yes, cue up the next in line of legal wrongdoings by the Park City School District. The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) has done a thorough analysis of this exact question. According to the SPLC, “It’s increasingly commonplace for districts to impose restrictions on what members of the public may say during the open-microphone portion of board meetings. But such restrictions are doubtfully legal, and in a pair of recent interpretations – one in Illinois and one in Virginia – have been found unconstitutional.”

Their legal interpretation is that the “Constitution is not understood to guarantee citizens a right to be heard before their elected officials make a decision.” However, “once an agency does agree to accept public comment, the commenting system cannot be operated in a discriminatory or viewpoint-restrictive way.”

What they mean by that is that the school board doesn’t have to give people the right to speak but once they do, they have to allow people free speech.

They cite the “forum doctrine” from the Supreme Court which says that once an area is designated for public comment, all public comments must be taken. According to Police Dept. of Chicago v. Mosley (1972), once an area is declared a “forum,” then any regulation of free speech is unconstitutional. SLPLC states, “Only if a judge finds that the restriction is absolutely necessary to achieve a compelling governmental purpose will the restrictions be constitutional.”

I think most of us would agree that preventing questions about the superintendent’s contract isn’t a compelling government purpose. Likewise, a substitute teacher should be able to ask questions of the board, too.

This doesn’t mean it’s a free for all, though. A school district can impose limits like 3 minutes of public comment to everyone because the rule is applied equally to all speakers. They can also remove speakers that cause a disturbance, without violating the speaker’s first amendment rights. However, they cannot impose limits based on the words used by a speaker.

So, if Ms. Choi or Ms. Altschuler brought a legal case against the district, would they win? According to SPLC, “When speakers who’ve been restrained from commenting at public meetings bring constitutional challenges, they’ve generally been successful. Judges have no difficulty recognizing that a government meeting is meant for the airing of complaints, even if that requires naming or criticizing a particular employee.” The article provides several examples.

One might also ask the question, “What if someone speaks during public comment and commits slander? Shouldn’t that be reason enough from stopping them from speaking at all, just in case?” SPLC answers that too, “The argument that criticism of employees must be forbidden to prevent defamation fails on two legal grounds. First, not all critical speech is defamatory. Defamation requires proof of a false statement of fact. Accurately describing wrongdoing by a school employee is a non-defamatory act of constitutionally protected speech.”

They continue, “Even if it’s reasonably anticipated that some speakers will abuse the comment period to make defamatory statements, the Supreme Court has made clear that speech cannot be restrained in anticipation that it will harm someone’s reputation. Rather, the proper remedy is to let the speech be heard and – if it causes harm – compensate any injured parties by way of a civil suit for money damages.” United States v. Stevens (2010) and Near v. Minnesota (1931) uphold these arguments.

The Park City School Board is hiding behind a policy that appears to be unconstitutional. I feel strongly enough about this that I have filed a complaint against the Park City School District with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Yes, I am running for School Board, and having to deal with another lawsuit isn’t what the district wants. However, maybe it’s what it needs.

We need to start following the law. We had a failure to follow the law with mask mandates. We had/have alleged unreported child abuse cases. Now we have violations of first amendment rights.

When and where does it end? Repeatedly charged with crimes. Don’t hear the truth. Hide behind policy. Are these the lessons our school district wants to teach our children?

We need a change of culture at the top of our school district. This is another case where the district’s actions don’t look legal and for sure aren’t right.


Hi, I’m Josh Mann. I created the Park Rag in 2012 to tell stories like these. This year, I am running for Park City School Board. I believe that through open communication, we can build a stronger community. Thanks for stopping by.

If the Park City School District settles its child abuse cases, it’s an admission of failure for our children.

Three cases of child abuse in Park City have allegedly gone unreported by the Park City School District. This led Margaret Olson, the Summit County Attorney, to file charges against our school district. Reportedly, the number of unreported cases has grown due to the investigation.

Recently we heard from Mark Moffat, Park City’s Criminal Defense Attorney, that the school district is working on a settlement in the lawsuit. Moffat said to Fox-13 News. “We’re trying to work on a resolution that will work to the benefit of both parties and serve the interests of justice in this case.”

What?

What I, both as a parent and someone who wants to be on our school board, care about is how we are going to help the children that were abused and then how we will NEVER let the abuse go unreported again.

What I need to hear is that the school district committed no wrong. Only that will provide confidence in the school district.

If the Park City School District settles, I will assume the district did something wrong. If they are found guilty, I will know they did something wrong.

If we are hopeful for our schools, PCSD will fight this and be vindicated. They would prove, in a court of law, that they did nothing wrong and supported our children.

The only acceptable outcome of these unfortunate incidents is a non-guilty verdict. We can’t allow a settlement and then not know whether the school district did anything wrong. It may be the way of lawyers, but it doesn’t serve our children.

I’m not naive. I’d guess the PCSD legal counsel has advised the school district to settle. I’d also guess that Utah’s laws that can enforce civil penalties on the school district in these types of cases are weighing into this decision.

However, what I care about are the kids. To me, a settlement is no different from a guilty verdict. It does nothing to prove that my kids are safer. It also tells me that kids were likely harmed in the past and the school district has responsibility. Settling is CYA.

What we need with regard to the Park City School district is leaders being held accountable for their actions. This should go to trial, and the public should understand exactly what happened.