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What do Donald Trump and the Park City School District have in common?

Like him or despise him, President Donald Trump has done one very great thing for this country. People are paying attention. Friends who never even knew an “executive order” was a thing, are now learning the power of presidency. Why?

Because politics have been shoved in their face.

Last week the Park City School District discussed increasing the capital local levy to its maximum amount. This would mean a family with a $650K house would pay over $900 more a year in taxes. For those of you who own in Park Meadows, that would mean you would likely pay about $1800 extra per year.

Talk about something being shoved in your face.

Yet, the more we think about it, the more we like the concept of a levy. Too often, small tax increases get swept under the rug. However, if your are paying a couple of thousand dollars extra per year, you are going to pay attention. You are going to ask whether the paint being used was from Home Depot or from Sherman Williams. You are going to wonder why in 2015 the school district bond to build a new 5/6 school, and remodel the High School to accommodate 9th graders was $56 million but now the number seems to be at $100 million.

You may even look at all expenditures and wonder whether money was well spent. Should teams travel out of state for competitions? Should teachers receive more compensation during the next round of negotiations. Should Park City Education Foundation personnel receive salaries from the School District?

It’s called shining a lighting dark spaces and sometimes you don’t like what you see. And often times you can’t unsee what you have seen. That is a good thing.

So, we welcome a capital levy from the school board. If they think they are under scrutiny now, just wait until their name is on the bill.

Sometimes it is good to look at the receipt after you have checked out at Fresh Market and see just what you bought.


Update: In a previous version of the above post, we asked “Should the Park City band have flown to Hawaii and played at Perl Harbor?” We had intimated that the school district had paid for this. Park City School District Representative Molly Miller reached out to make ensure we knew that parents, students, and the PC ED foundation paid for the majority of the Pearl Harbor trip for the band. She noted:

  • Of the money spent to send the band, most of it was raised by band members and their parents.
  • They participated in Live PC, Give PC.
  • They also received $1,000 in an “express grant” from the wonderful Park City Education Foundation.
  • District money spent on this life-enriching trip for our band members consisted of payment for a substitute teacher for Bret Hughes.

 

Comments

4 Comments

Avatar
Anonymous

Josh,
I realize your kids are young and not anywhere near being in HS, so I can see that maybe you don’t understand how HS programming works. Unlike elementary school, when HS students register for classes, they pay fees to cover the expenses of those classes. When sports teams travel out of state, parents pay hundreds of dollars to cover the expenses of the athletes. When the HS Band or Orchestra travel out of state, parents again pay hundreds of dollars to cover the expenses. In the case of the Hawaii trip, each student paid close to $2000 to be able to go on the trip. So when you say “you may even look at all the expenditures and wonder whether money was well spent” and imply that the school district is covering these expenses, you are mistaken.
In addition, I’m confused when you ask “should Pay [sic] City Education Foundation personnel receive salaries from the School District?” Did you expect them to work for free?? People who work 40 hours a week, whether it’s for a non-profit or not, should have a salary.
The title of your blog entry implies that Donald Trump and the school district have something in common. I fail to see what that is. The school district is working hard to make the right decisions for our kids. They’ve asked over and over again for input from their constituents. How exactly is that like Donald Trump??

Avatar
Parkrag

My main point is that if the district decides to implement a capital levy of nearly $1000 per year (on a $650K house), many Park City School District expenditures will come under intense scrutiny. People are going to pay attention more than they ever have. That is the similarity to Donald Trump.

As for out of state travel for students, it is good to know that every expense is covered by fees. I did a cursory review of recent travel requests and there are quite a few that are blank on the line called: “District Approved Fund Raisers that will Offset Costs.” Maybe in all those cases the students are paying their own way and the coaches too. That said, I guess I’ll take your word for it that all long-distance costs (flights, rental vehicles, hotels, food, per diem) for every student, coach, assistant, teacher, etc. are covered by student fees. I personally support athletics, band and other extra-curricular activities. However, if a team is flying to Oklahoma to “compete against the best” and part of it is on the public’s dime… Just know that people are going to look at that closely if school taxes become unbearable.

As for the PCED Foundation, I love the work they do. They do many good things for our community. I also don’t discount that it’s a full time job for some persons. What I wonder is whether most people know that the school district pays the salary of some PCED personnel — versus that money coming from the Foundation itself. The public may conclude that they would rather have all PCED donations go to programs, and thus paying PCED personnel from school district funds is a good use of tax dollars. Alternatively, the public may conclude that they’d rather pay a few more teachers with that money and let the money come from the Foundation. The few people I’ve talked to about this believed there was an arms-length between the Park City School District and PCED Foundation. They were shocked that the Park City School District was paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries and benefits to PCED Foundation personnel.

If the school district reaches heavily into the back pocket of citizens, many citizens are going to look back and ask exactly where every dime of their money is going. Maybe there is a good answer for that in every case… and maybe there is not.

That’s the point.

Avatar
Walt

Given that the PCEF donates money exclusively to PCSD stuff, who cares which one of the entities pays those employees?

Agreed also that the thing about extracurriculars is ridiculous. If you were in the band (or on any teams) back in the day you know very well that out of state travel is never paid for by the school.

Poorly researched on this one, and the Trump analogy… doesn’t make much sense to me. People were paying *lots* of attention to PCSD (including here!) well before Trump was even a candidate.

Avatar
Anonymous

I too have always found it odd that PCEF employees are on the PCSD books. I think it creates a conflict of interest. The district could hold sway over how funds are allocated. I always thought PCEF was an independent organization raising money for subjects held important by teachers, students, and parents. Also, taxpayers are now responsible for their salaries and benefits. Which are probably more generous had they come from the foundation. And if the district is the entity allocating the money, then why do we need those employees anyway. The superintendent or another andministrator could do the job and we could increase funding to PCEF by a large percentage.


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