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Fabulous Park City School District Grade Realignment Discussion

On Tuesday, the Park City School Board discussed grade realignment. They ultimately determined that they will not go forward with grade realignment next year — but it will eventually happen.

It was a fascinating discussion with board members, the Superintendent, and school principals. It is quiet long but very informative. The relevant discussion starts at 17:13.




From KSL July 18, 2015:

“We know that we have to minimize that academic achievement gap,” said PCSD Superintendent Ember Conley. “And all-day kindergarten is the best way to do that.”

To accommodate the flood of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds, they’ll change the structure of elementary schools from K-6 to P-4. Those changes at the bottom will require an overhaul in the district’s school configuration.


From the Arizona Republic January 21st, 2012:

Deputy Superintendent Ember Conley said Maricopa Unified is losing fewer students than in years past, but “if I’m losing one student, that’s one student too many.”

At stake is the loss of thousands of dollars in per-student state subsidies that go to the district that actually educates the students. In Maricopa Unified’s case, that means losing anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 for each student who goes to either Kyrene or Tempe Union.

Still, LeFevre said, the onus to bring in students lies with districts and schools. Strong principals running strong schools with good programs attract families, he said.

Conley conceded that the competition also is helping elevate Maricopa, saying it has made the district “even more driven for academic success.”

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As Principal of Montezuma Cortez High School from 2008 – 2013, Ember Conley oversaw the school ranking from 229th to 216th out of 301. This school has a minority population of over 40% and over 40% receive free or reduced lunch.

The Maricopa Unified School District in AZ is ranked 239th out of 434 districts. Which is about where it was when Ember Conley was Principal and Interim Superintendent. The district consists of 8 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and ZERO high schools. Very high minority population and 54% of students receive free or reduced lunch.

PCSD is being operated as though we are the above districts. Not once did I ever here a community member express that we needed full day KG and pre school to help improve test scores for Latinos. All I ever heard was how PCSD is one of the best districts in the NATION. Now, we aren’t even best in state.


FYI, PCSD was dropped from the annual national rankings because of the achievement gap between minority/disadvantaged (here that basically means Latino) kids and the rest.

So if you want your national ranking back, you should probably be in support of the all-day K and various other early learning programs – even if you don’t think our public schools should serve that population or try to improve achievement for disadvantaged students for simple humanitarian reasons.

You can read about the US news ranking system here (note “step 2”):

Note that this doesn’t mean I think the superintendent is awesome (I have no strong opinion either way).



I don’t care about the rankings. The point was to highlight that rankings didn’t improve under Conley’s charge. Her entire career has been in low income districts and now finds herself in a district where all of her wish list initiatives can be afforded. So now 60 – 100 million will be spent to, hopefully, improve PCSD rankings by, hopefully, improving Latino test scores.

The Latino’s, just by being here, have immeasurably improved their lot in life. That should be thanks enough.

As far as things that need to be done, such as carpets at Treasure. Well, we used to have more money in a rainy day fund before Conley took it and gave it out as bonuses.


Let me get this straight – you don’t care about the rankings, but you feel they’re important enough to point out as a criticism?

Bluntly, you can’t have it both ways on this. I tend to think the rankings aren’t very important personally, but if you’re going to bring it up (and demonstrate that you don’t understand how they work), you can’t retroactively say you don’t care about them.

I can see why you posted the rest anonymously, though, that’s for sure.

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