If you haven’t been following the drama of Silver Springs and the loss of their bus route, here is the tldr;:
Park City and Summit County had a falling out over the current bus system. Summit County is making their own bus system called High Valley Transit (HVT). As part of that, they are canceling the 7 Pink bus service that runs through Silver Springs. Silver Springs residents are up in arms because it impacts their transportation options. Many claim they moved there because of the bus.
So, that’s where we are. Silver Spring residents are writing letters to the Park Record. They are calling their County Council people. A few have sent in comments to the Park Rag. I’m sympathetic, but I also pay attention to what our leaders say. In Wednesday’s County Council meeting, HVT Board president Kim Carson and Summit County Regional Transportation Planning Director, Caroline Rodriguez, spoke about current plans and answered questions from council persons.
According to the county council conversation, here is why your leaders think the current HVT plans are good for you (and why your bus isn’t coming back).
- Huge buses are going through your neighborhood with “no one” on them. That’s a waste of resources and bad for the environment.
- Today buses come every 30 minutes. HVT plans are better because “on-demand” minivans will pick you up in 15 minutes. It’s actually better for you whether you believe it or not.
- Neighboring neighborhoods can now call for pickups, instead of having to walk to your neighborhood. It’s a benefit for others.
- There is no time. They are establishing temporary offices at park-and-rides and getting in vehicles (hopefully) a week or two before launch. There is no time for changes.
I see the flaws in these arguments. For instance, yesterday morning, at many times, there were more people on the 7-Pink in Silver Springs than on the 10 Electric from KJ to PC. However, I think leaders have made up their minds — for now.
The “for now” is the important part. Kim Carson did say that they want to be flexible. They want to alter their plans based on how the system functions. So, Silver Springs residents, I’d give up on the fight to get a diesel bus careening through your burb. It’s not going to happen. However, I wouldn’t settle for a generic micro-transit alternative either.
I was messaging back and forth with someone who lives in Silver Springs and they had a good point. If the micro-transit would pick them up and take them to the Canyons or a central spot like Smith’s in Kimball Junction, that may be good enough. I think the Silver Springs’ fear is that they will need to take micro-transit to another bus stop, transfer, and then get to the Canyons or Smith’s to shop.
So, why not propose that Silver Springs micro-transit have expanded drop-offs for a trial period. If every pickup ends up being one family in a car headed to the Canyons or KJ, then expanded service doesn’t make sense. It’s no better than the family hopping in a car. If there is really the demand that is being signaled, then perhaps it would make sense to continue on-demand, micro-transit to a few extended locations like the Canyons and into Kimball Junction. If demand is big enough, perhaps a small shuttle bus would make sense.
Silver Springs is a little different from many neighborhoods in the Basin. For example, in Jeremy Ranch, HVT micro-transit is an addition to what we have had. In Silver Springs, the current HVT plan is seen as a subtraction. By providing Silver Springs with a chance to show that it makes sense to provide an expanded micro-transit, it may bridge the gap.
The diesel bus isn’t coming back to Silver Springs, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives. Perhaps my proposal isn’t what Silver Springs wants, but maybe Silver Spring residents can come up with something that meets both the HVT and residents’ needs.
Note, the video of the meeting seems to have disappeared but here is the link in case it comes back.
A guest post from a Silver Springs local:
I think it’s fair to say that the residents of Silver Springs feel betrayed by the loss of the Pink bus. We are one of the very few neighborhoods in the area that is reasonably well laid out for public transit (in the 5 minutes it takes the bus to drive through, it comes within easy walking distance of 300+ houses) and while Covid has put a damper on ridership, it’s historically been popular, at least in my experience.
It’s not clear to me why every other Lime bus couldn’t come through Silver Springs (service every 30 minutes as it is now). The detour takes minimal time, serves lots of residents well, and is easy to use and understand.
I personally have zero interest in taking a microtransit vehicle (which we both know will show up late half the time, causing me to miss the bus I want) with my kids/carseats/stroller/etc. Transferring between vehicles multiple times per trip just means I’ll drive, even if I didn’t have to lug carseats and boosters around. I imagine many people here feel the same.
Don’t get me wrong, if I lived in Jeremy Ranch, or Silver Creek, or some other area that is impractical to serve with a fixed line, I’d be excited. The microtransit service will be a big upgrade for those places. But I don’t – I live somewhere that I chose partially because of access to the bus, as did many of my neighbors.
This plan is throwing the Silver Springs area under the proverbial bus in exchange for a savings of 5 minutes of drive time and a few gallons of fuel a day. It’s penny wise and pound foolish, and it’s a plan that was made with what appears to be no public input. We should change it and keep the bus running through Silver Springs.
–Silver Springs Resident
Park City is still a small place. While there are lots of new folks and outside influences, I believe we are still a family. We support our own. When Park City’s own Gold-medalist ski jumper Lindsey Van fought for women’s ski jumping in the Olympics, the community got behind her. Through her efforts, Women’s ski jumping became an Olympic sport in 2014. A triumph.
Today we have the chance to support another born-and-raised Parkite — Wyatt Pike. Wyatt is competing on a musical television show called American Idol. Out of tens of thousands of contestants, he has made it to the top 24 of all people on American Idol. Amazing. Starting this Sunday (April 4) he needs internet votes from all of us to continue in the competition. Is competing on a television singing show on the same level as enabling equal rights in the Olympics. Probably not. However, Wyatt is one of ours.
I first met Wyatt a few years ago in the Park City Follies. He and fellow high-schooler Christian Labertew were our two high school performers who showed up for weeks of practice and then ten nights of shows. Wyatt and Christian were amazing. They were pleasant. They were considerate. They were kind. They were talented. They fit in with people who, in many cases, had acted and sung for decades. They were Park City kids.
Now Wyatt has grown up and needs some help. Having watched his performances on America Idol, I would call him Park City’s Woody Guthrie. Occasionally, he stretches into Park City’s Mumford & Sons. He is fun to watch. Some day he will be performing in Nashville or Austin — without a doubt. Our Park City family can help him get there sooner.
He will be competing again on Sunday April 4. He needs your vote. You can help him in three ways. Starting on Easter, you can vote via the America Idol Website, using the American Idol app, or by sending a text to 21523. This will help Wyatt become one of the finalists. This will springboard his career. It’s what we would do for family.
As Lionel Ritchie said about Wyatt, “You’re Park City’s James Taylor. You are a fabulous story teller. You are in your own lane.”
If you haven’t seen Wyatt, here is his background:
Here is the song that got him into the top 24:
The long-running joke is that everyone loves buses because they hope everyone else will ride them. With Park City Transit, buses typically have 5 or less people on them. It doesn’t make a real difference for travel or the environment. In fact, if a diesel bus has less than 9 people, it would have been better for the environment if people would have driven their own cars instead.
Yet, if we adopt bussing as a community, we can make a real difference.
Over the years, I have had a love-hate relationship with Park City’s bus service. I love it because I haven’t driven to a ski resort in almost half a decade. The bus is so much simpler because I don’t worry whether there is a parking spot and it drops me far closer to the lift than if I drove. I hate it because I have to get in my car to drive to the Ecker Hill Park and Ride to catch the bus. Driving half-way sort of defeats the benefits of the bus.
Enter Summit County’s new bus plans. If you haven’t heard, they are splitting from Park City Transit later this year. They are forming a new transit district called High Valley Transit. The promise is to get you from Jeremy Ranch to Deer Valley in 30 minutes. Another promise is having vans pick up people from their homes across our neighborhoods and deliver them to transit points efficiently.
So, imagine you are in Summit Park and you want to Ski on some random Sunday. You use their app to schedule a pick you up near your home. They pick you up and then deliver you to the bus stop with the next pickup headed towards PCMR within the next 15 minutes. You get dropped off within 1000 feet of the Cabriolet lift at the Canyons; Oh, and the buses are said to actually have ski racks on them so you don’t have to schlock your skis into the van or bus. Why wouldn’t you do it?
It’s a no-brainer. If you do this, your car doesn’t pollute. Your car doesn’t jam the roads. You don’t take up a parking space. You don’t worry about getting a parking space. You are dropped off close to lifts. Everyone wins.
So, I’m excited by the idea of the High Valley Transit System. Long-term it could link Heber, Kamas, Coalville, and the Salt Lake Valley to Park City. It would bring in more business without impacting roads. Yet, because I’m petty, I would never have a bus stop at Hideout — let them suffer – Hideout is toxic — but that’s a story for another time — or every time.
That said, I believe there are challenges in the proposal.
First, can you really get from Jeremy Ranch to Deer Valley in 30 minutes with the available-stops proposed? I’m not so sure, but if they promise it, they better be able to deliver.
Second, I should be able to schedule a pickup within 30 minutes. The expectations are in the ballpark of Lyft/Uber waiting times. If it is longer than that, I won’t do it. I don’t think most people will either. There should also be the ability to schedule pickups ahead of time which alleviates that issue.
Third, they better backfill the service to ensure places like Silver Springs that had direct bus service have adequate service levels.
Overall, I like what Summit county is proposing. It is so much better for us Basin locals than what Park City Transit provides. That said, there are no good ideas — there is only execution.
If Summit County executes, this could be a game changer. I hope they do. If so, we will all use the crap out of it.
Call to Action: If you or someone in your household tests
positive for Covid-19, pick up the phone and spread the word.
Don’t wait for someone else to do it.
Contact tracing during the widening spread of Covid-19 is hard,
if not impossible at this point.
If you test positive, remember who you could have exposed in the last week or so,then call and inform them so they can get tested. They also need
to look out for signs and symptoms.
If your child (a PCSD student) tests positive, remember who your child could have exposed in the last week or so, then call in inform them so they can start looking for signs and symptoms. Also, call your PCSD school secretary.
All positive test results automatically get shared with the
Summit County Health Department, according to a nurse at one
of our testing sites. Summit County reports it to Utah’s
Department of Health. Your positive case becomes a number entered into county and state systems and third-party
On August 24, 2020, PCSD sent an email to district parents
announcing new healthAttend software, an attendance
portal which can also help track Covid-19 cases. It read:
‘Park City School District is implementing new tools to
help ease communication between parents and the
schools regarding absence reporting and potential
symptom monitoring from home. If your student will be
out of school, we ask that you use our online system to
report their absence(s). This greatly alleviates the strain
on front office staff during critical times of the morning
routine and enables us to focus our attention on COVID
precautions and getting your child safely to class. It also
helps our nurses monitor symptoms and cases, in an effort
to mitigate potential illness outbreaks.’
In reality, healthAttend is a stand-alone database that PCSD
nurses use to enter Covid-19 cases. Is not ready for parents
quite yet. HealthAttend became a company just one month
before PCSD decided to adopt its graphic database. There
is no interface between healthAttend and PCSD. Parents
still have to call and email school Attendance Secretaries
to report an absence or illness, then talk to the school
nurse to discuss and confirm a Covid-19 positive case.
According to one of the district’s Attendance Secretaries,
‘HealthAttend is an external program that does not link to
our school software therefore requiring manual entry.’
After a school nurse confirms the case, he/she enters it into
healthAttend. Late each night, the healthAttend system
gets refreshed, so data entered today is displayed tomorrow
for most people. District administrators have also
confirmed this information and that healthAttend is
stand-alone and displays only an aggregate of
school-entered numbers. After all that, the school
administration decides who to email about quarantining
other students who were in contact with your child during
Recently, a PCSD student tested positive.
The parent entered the information into healthAttend, but
PCSD did not see that entry. The parent called the school
right away, but it was on a Sunday. By the time the school
applied protocols and procedures and finished notifying
parents whose kids were exposed during unmasked time
together, it was late on that Monday afternoon after
exposed students were back in school, possibly spreading
this virus in classrooms and hallways.
Timely notification and action is what can prevent viral spread.
Have school protocols changed?
Yes. There will be no more quarantine unless unmasked
PCSD changes protocols as often as the state changes them.
According to the state as of 12/3/20, students may return to
school before 14 days of quarantine only if ALL three
criteria below are met:
- The school verifies the person who was exposed and the
person who tested positive were both wearing a face mask
as defined by the State Public Health Order on masks in
schools. (Our student athletes were exposed without
- The person who was exposed tests negative for
COVID-19 at least 7 days after the last day of exposure.
- The person who was exposed does not have symptoms of
On 12/3/20, Dr. Gildea issued a letter to teachers stating:
‘…With Mask to Mask contact, there will be 0 school
based quarantine – effective immediately – other than
lunchtime contact. The social distance in a classroom is
not a factor in whether or not to quarantine re: seating
chart. So, the only contact tracing schools will be doing is
potential lunchtime or school activity based exposure….If
our athletes practice WITH masks, there is 0 quarantine for
team based exposure.’
Where can I find real Covid-19 case counts?
Case counts reported at the state, county, and school district
levels vary because of the different procedures and timelines for notification. You can find PCSD case counts at both the state
and county level. Often they report higher numbers than PCSD.
This varies. Word of mouth spreads faster than computer data in
the case of PCSD. Teachers may have a more accurate count
than healthAttend given their proximity to information in the
Summit County Dashboard
PCSD healthAttend Dashboard
It’s up to friends and community to call each other, through
word of mouth, if we want to notify and learn quickly about
Call everyone you know who may have been exposed—the
old-fashioned way! Post it on social media the new-fashioned
way! There’s no shame in it. This is a public health concern. To
meet the challenge of not spreading this virus, a phone call is
quicker than entering data into a void and hoping it goes
somewhere. It’s faster than a PCSD email. The most
responsible party is YOU.
Let’s pick up the phone, reach out to friends, and spread the
word, not the virus! Love our community.
After the news broke that Park City School District’s substitutes would no longer be working for the school district, we reached out to the Superintendent’s office to see if they had a comment on the situation.
Dr Gildea’s office responded quickly with the following comment. We may not like the decision to do this but we appreciate the quick response.
We have heard from our educators and staff for multiple years that there have been a shortage of substitute roles across PCSD – teachers, instructional assistants, etc. We have tried a variety of strategies to recruit and retain including shifting the pay rate without improved results. Last year, we began to explore an outsourcing service.
The benefits of the service include: pay is more frequent (bi-monthly versus monthly), incentives and bonuses are available which is not possible in the public sector such as attendance and days worked incentives, early retirees do not have a conflict with URS if they work for a private entity, and there is a more targeted recruitment and attention paid to the temporary workforce.
An RFP process was followed, and EduStaff was selected by HR/Ops team/Business Services Team in October 2020 as the preferred vendor for this process, and they will launch their services in January 2021. Because they are a separate entity, they do require their own intake application for confidentiality purposes; however, the placement remains within PCSD and works to maintain sub preferences for sites, etc.
In the meantime, PCSD has also added permanent building substitute teachers to support each school site. Those roles will remain in place to cover preventive quarantine educators or longer-term sub placements. The goal is to provide a seamless learning experience and continuity for our students. We are working with a new strategy to better support our schools.
Let me know if you have additional questions.
It’s hard to believe that PCSD students are into their third month of in-person school – that’s a huge victory for kids, the district, and working families. In-person school tops our household list of things to be thankful for this year.
That’s due to hard work (and some luck) at many levels – and a group that has played an outsized role this year — substitute teachers. Subs fly under the public radar most of the time. They’re not your kid’s daily teacher, and you’ll often never meet one. They don’t usually sign report cards and your child might not remember their name.
But this year more than ever, subs are critical. If a teacher isn’t feeling well, or their child at the high school is quarantining, they have no choice – they can’t come to work. That means subs have to step in to keep the school functioning. Many subs also work long-term jobs of 3 or more weeks, sometimes the entire school year.
It’s news to no one that teachers are underpaid. But subs do much worse – $13-15 an hour, with no benefits. That’s right, you can literally start for the same amount at Smith’s. Subs receive no benefits whatsoever – but they come to work anyway, because they’re parents and community members who care deeply about kids and education.
So when PCSD announced that effective January 3rd, the entire substitute teacher corps would no longer be employed by the district, and instead would work for a 3rd party temp agency called EDUStaff, based in Michigan, our reaction was disbelief. Every current sub must reapply for their current job, including spending hours on an online application (literally, we spoke with a sub who is on hour 3 and at step 10 of 22) and an in-person interview – which conveniently can only be scheduled during the school day.
The district claims that they need more subs and that hiring this 3rd party company is a way to get them.
At the Park Rag, we have a number of questions about this:
- Shouldn’t our first priority be to retain the subs we have? Many subs feel disrespected and unvalued. One sub we contacted told us “I didn’t sign up to work for a temp agency.” They take pride in working for the district, even for minimal pay and respect. Many may quit.
- If hiring more subs was a priority, why didn’t this happen over the summer? Why change the entire system in the middle of the school year? Subs and teachers tell us they had no warning of this change and were never consulted until the announcement dropped – the day before Thanksgiving break.
- Where was the outreach to parents and community members? We can’t recall hearing a word about substitutes on KPCW, the Park Record, or via direct communication from the district. Our natural sub pool lives right here in Park City – but it doesn’t appear PCSD ever reached out to them.
- EDUStaff presumably makes money on this arrangement. Why not try raising the sub pay, advertising for subs, or paying referral bonuses to teachers/subs who recruit new substitutes? This is money that could be used to actually solve the problem.
When you’re in a hole, stop digging. Low pay, low respect, and little or no effort at recruiting/retaining subs has indeed resulted in a shortage. Throwing the subs we have further under the bus will exacerbate it.
At a macro level, this may be just as bad. Making a fundamental change on the night before schools go on Thanksgiving Break is ill-timed. It feels like an action a large corporation would take when it’s trying to get away with something. It doesn’t engender trust with the public.
We hope that the Park City School District will reconsider this decision. If not, the substitute teacher shortage may become even worse. No one likes to feel treated like crap.
Remember when Vail said you would probably be able to ski whenever you wanted. Turns out that’s not true.
Opening day for PCMR and Canyons is tomorrow (11/20). Covid-times has turned what is usually an exciting time into a time of anxiety for many people. However, in many respects, it is a miracle we will have a ski season at all.
Enter Vail’s reservation system for Park City Mountain Resort. No longer can you just show up and ski with your Epic Pass. You need to make a reservation. When this was announced in late summer, people worried about whether this would impinge upon their ability to ski or ride.
However, Vail showed confidence and told us locals that we didn’t need to worry. The reservation system was really for those peak times like Christmas week and President’s Day. The Park Record posted an article about the reservations system and ran quotes from PCMR saying, “But we want to remind people that there is no need to worry or rush to reserve your days. Reservations are exclusive to pass holders through Dec. 7 and for the vast majority of days this season, we believe everyone who wants to ski or ride at one of our resorts will be able to.” They continued, “For the vast majority of days this season, we believe everyone who wants to ski or ride at one of our resorts will be able to…”
So, reservations began yesterday at 2PM. I logged in at 2:04 and was greeted with the message that I was 50,000th in line (that’s across Colorado resorts as well). I was able to get a Saturday reservation for the family at PCMR. However, then reports started rolling in that by early evening the only day available to ski was Tuesday. As of now, there are no days available to ski at PCMR in the next week (the reservation period that Vail uses).
This is likely due to a lack of snow and only a few runs being open. It’s also likely due to the extreme number of passes being sold. In recent memory, I know opening day at PCMR is busy, but I don’t remember Thanksgiving week being particularly crowded.
What I hope is that this isn’t a harbinger of things to come. If you have to log in between 2PM and 3PM on every Wednesday and then wait for an hour in line to try and reserve a space, that will be miserable. God help your chances if you aren’t fortunate enough to be working around a computer.
Likewise, if every day has maxed out Vail’s numbers, what are those lift lines going to look like? What’s the experience on the mountain going to look like? IS DV going to look any differently?
Regardless, if you really want to ski the week after Thanksgiving, I’d be in Vail’s Waiting Room at 1:59 PM on Thanksgiving Eve. If you try hard enough, you may get to ski if you really want to.
Welcome to the night before election day. I’m sure many of you are excited that tomorrow is the beginning of the end of Trump’s reign. Somewhere in that wish is a caution to be careful what you wish for, but tonight isn’t the time for that.
We’ve been notified that the Summit County Clerk’s office has been shut down due to quarantine and votes may not be counted until mid-November. So, tomorrow’s the Election-bowl of the century and the Clerk’s office (the people who count the votes) evidently didn’t take the precautions to ensure they could play the game.
The clerk’s office is shuttered until November 9 at the earliest. Your vote will be counted by Mid-November.
Are you upset and what’s your recourse?
The good news is that unless you are in School District #2, where school board president Andrew Caplan is defending his seat against Thomas Cooke, you really don’t have much to vote for — unless some random judge is your uncle.
The sad thing about Summit County is that in local elections no one except for Cooke is challenging the incumbent.
So, don’t let the incomprehensible, Covid-19 action from the Summit County Clerk’s office get you down. Whether your vote is counted this year or later, it won’t really matter. All the Summit County Council candidates running unopposed will get reelected. The Assessor, running unopposed, will get reelected. The Recorder, running unopposed, will get reelected. The Treasurer, running unopposed, will get reelected.
Then, when the Clerk runs in two years, you’ll vote for him again, because no one will run against the Democrat.
Our collective actions aren’t getting the best result for Park City or Summit County. We need to find a way to have options when voting. If not, why vote at all?
As we entered the 2020-pandemic-school-year, fear was palpable. If you had a kid in school, you probably worried about how they would social distance. Then we heard word from some teachers that their classes were packed. We heard there were more than 700 new kids at Park City Schools this year! It was going to be the end of the world!!
But the world did not end.
We learned that according to October 1 enrollment numbers, including both remote and in-person students, Park City had 69 fewer kids in our school district this year than last.
According to PCSD Superintendent, Jill Gidea, during the most recent School Board Meeting, Park City had 4,696 students enrolled in K-12.
Here is the tally:
This compares with 4,765 students enrolled on October 1, 2019. So, we went down by 69 students this year.
From a Covid perspective, this flies in the face of what we have been hearing. People are moving here in droves. So, why are our schools not burgeoning at the seams?
- I hear people talking about the district not being truthful, but I don’t think the district is intentionally lowering numbers. They get state money for every kid. So, they would want to be biased to the upside — not the downside on enrollment.
- Perhaps, the people buying houses don’t have kids. That would fit with the most-recent second homeowner stats where 2/3 of houses in PC and 1/3 of houses in the basin are second homes. Maybe the people moving in are older and looking for a respite fro the city.
- Perhaps the families moving in are keeping their kids in remote-learning at their original schools in California, Texas, etc.
- Perhaps Park City Day School and Judge are getting all the kids because the parents are used to paying for private school and Park City rankings aren’t so hot any more.
I don’t know what the reason is. But it is what it is. For now, in what seems like the largest inward migration of people to Park City since the silver rush of 1892, our schools have gone down in population. Again, the numbers include students doing remote-learning.
That said, Covid-19 is a transitory event. It too shall pass. So, let’s look at these enrollment numbers in context and figure out what they mean for us going forward. There was a time when enrollment in Park City Schools was going up. It appears that time has passed — for now.
In the numbers above, look at the number of students in 7th through 12th grade. That average number of students is 403 per grade. Look at the number of students in grades 1st through 6th. That average is 337. The difference between the two is 16%. That percentage difference will only become bigger unless we get an influx in younger grades.
To put it differently, the 12th grade has almost 100 more kids than the 1st grade has in it (25% more kids). If trends continue, the lower number of students in younger grades will eventually lead to fewer students throughout the system. If we took the current 1st through 4th grade class and compared it to the current number of high school kids (assuming 9th-12th grade) it would be 1,264 versus the 1,649 that are enrolled now. That’s almost a 25% drop.
Why is that? It’s most likely that most families with a child or two can’t afford a $1.5 million house. People who can put $300,000 down are few and far between, and when you have kids, that only becomes harder.
This has broad implications for what the district is planning with capital projects. In 2015 a $56 million bond failed. Now the Park City School Board has given the district the ability to tax residents without a bond for capital improvements. I’ve heard numbers upwards of $150 million to $200 million to tear down Treasure Mountain Junior High, expand the high school for 9th grade and expand Ecker Hill for 8th grade.
It’s a strange course of action when numbers are falling like this. We’ll have to ultimately see what the school district does, but it seems unconscionable if they don’t put a hundreds-of-million-dollar-expenditure out to the people for a vote in the face of this.
I think most of us would agree that some form of capital expenditure makes sense — like bringing the 9th grade into Park City High. We do want to provide a good education for our children.
However, if our hand isn’t forced by growth, and we want to spend money, aren’t there better places to put some of that money? Like teachers or internet for kids who don’t have it or after school programs or technology or helping our ELL students.
Imagine finding a way to take some of those hundreds of millions of tax dollars being proposed for buildings and funneling some of that to help our Park City schools have better than a 36% proficiency rate in math.
The truth is that the school district is not growing. Great. Let’s refocus and get better.