Earlier this week I provided questions to each of the Park City School Board candidates. Below is the response I received from School Board candidate Meredith Reed.
1. Tell us about yourself. How will you help make the Park City School Board the best that it has ever been?
I am running for the Park City School Board because I love our schools and want to do my part to make them even better. I am the proud mother of four amazing kids: one PCHS graduate, a student at Ecker Hill, and two at Jeremy Ranch. I believe that great schools make great communities.
We are so fortunate in that our community is deeply invested in ensuring that we have the best school district possible. Collaboration with our teachers, staff, parents, students, local government, non-profit organizations, community partners, and residents is essential to the immediate and long term success of our district and to achieving the best outcomes for our students. Building community trust is built on clear communication and transparency and by acting in an open and deliberative way.
I have the skills to realize these goals. I am a veteran who served as a Chaplain in the Air Force, and I’ve worked as a strategic planning and communications project manager for more than twenty years. I’ve worked to solve tough problems, and understand the value and importance of communication between government and the community.
2. The majority of Park City families’ property taxes go to the Park City School District. Many of us have had our taxes triple over the last decade. How will you balance ensuring our educators are paid fairly while ensuring taxes are within residents’ means?
With a booming residential real estate market, tax payers have seen a jump in their property taxes this year. Utah’s state laws are at the foundation of this problem. Language in the Utah Constitution establishes that property has to be taxed at fair market value. Exacerbating the current problem is an education funding law adopted in 2018 that interferes with a mechanism in the state’s truth-in-taxation law from the 1980s which has led to higher payments than a property owner would have to make under normal circumstances. This state law has affected taxpayers since it passed, but increased valuations have led to higher tax payments this year. Property owners who are experiencing an undue burden from these tax increases have several options available to them for tax relief: the ‘circuit breaker” tax relief program, the option of requesting a tax abatement, or enrollment in a tax deferral program.
Through my extensive community involvement and advocacy, I have connections with non-profit and government leaders across Park City and Summit County, as well as relationships with state lawmakers. Productive relationships at the state house are essential for what we aim to accomplish for our school district and making sure we have the most resources available to compensate our educators and staff. It is critical that we are participating in the policy discussions at the legislature to ensure the concerns of the Park City School District and taxpayers are taken into consideration in new legislation.
3. Should the book Fun Home by Alison Bechdel be in the Treasure Mountain Junior High library. Why or why not?
I am not familiar with this book; I cannot speak to its content or merits. When choosing books to include in the library, librarians should work to create a collection that serves the student community and reflects a variety of experiences, social and emotional development, and is appropriate for students’ intellectual and reading levels. Park City’s curriculum adoption policy (9050), established in 1995, provides clear guidelines for curriculum. Materials that are adopted must be thoroughly reviewed by parents of students, teachers, administrators, and when appropriate, the students themselves. This policy, which has been in place for nearly 30 years, safeguards against the inclusion of sensitive materials.
4. The school district has been involved in a number of controversies recently (mask mandates, child abuse, building permits, etc.). Do you think PCSD needs to change? If not, why not? If so, why?
Our community is rightly concerned about the many serious issues facing the school district. We need a positive change; to have open discussions about safety, transparency, communication, truthfulness, equity, and, most importantly, our children.
The school district has experienced a number of missteps and mistakes; some culminating in criminal charges. More recently, the delays in construction projects has been an obvious and avoidable problem. By an overwhelming majority, voters approved the nearly $80 million bond for infrastructure spending to support the yearslong master planning project and strategic realignment of our schools. When the construction began without the required permits, this delayed the completion of those projects and added to the costs. In order to ensure seamless collaboration with state and county partners, the district should review protocols in place to make sure that the district, the contractor, and all partners are working in sync. All of our state and local government agencies have the same goal – to work together for successful outcomes for our students.
The Park City School Board is at a crossroads and needs new leadership. It is critical that we elect leaders to our board who demonstrate integrity, a commitment to honesty and good decision making, and a willingness to cooperate with our district stakeholders.
5. What is one thing you will deliver if elected to the school board?
I will absolutely ensure that our board is conducting its business in public and following the Utah Open Meetings Act. I will use all community media channels (KPCW, Park Record, TownLift, et al, and social media community forums) and commit to using all resources available to communicate with our stakeholders. I will work closely with the district’s media relations spokesperson to develop and increase opportunities to engage with our broader community, and make certain that we all work together to accomplish what is best for our students. I believe we can work together to create meaningful change that impacts the students, educators and staff, and families of our community.
6. What’s the most impactful memory you have of when you were in elementary school?
My father served in the US Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, and later after completing law school, as a Navy JAG officer. Like all Marine kids, I was raised to hold Marines in the highest regard. My life goal in third grade was to be a Marine, myself, when I grew up. While discussing my aspirations with my third grade teacher, Ms. Herman, she assuredly informed me: “girls can’t be Marines.’ I replied that indeed women could serve as Marines, but she was not convinced by an eight year old. (Ms. Herman was clearly unaware that women had been a permanent part of the regular Marines since the 1940’s.) Following our conversation, I returned home from school and let my parents know what Ms. Herman had said. My parents contacted Ms. Herman to politely correct her and inform her that this career path was, in fact, an option for their daughter. Next, the three of them went a step further and agreed to having a female Marine come visit my 3rd grade class. In my recollection of this class visit the Marine was absolutely perfect – her uniform was impeccable, she was gracious, the class was in awe. There are a number of aspects to this story that have had a lasting impact on me: my parents were advocates for me with my teacher, my teacher was willing to learn something new and share it with the class, and an outside organization was willing to take the time to participate in that educational process as well.