Has the Park City School District Considered the Impact on Hispanic Children of Having 5th-8th at Ecker Hill?
I was having a debate with a friend over whether the additional travel time that will be required for 5th and 8th graders to travel from areas like Prospector to Ecker Hill was discriminatory toward our Hispanic kids, since that population is a minority and Park City’s Hispanic population is higher near the Kearns campus (thus impacting them more than other populations). We ultimately concluded that it may be discriminatory but that doesn’t mean it’s illegal. My friends point was that no matter where you put the school, someone is impacted.
She had another good point though. She said, aren’t Hispanic kids generally faring much worse in our schools? I said, “yes”, and quoted the Superintendent’s stat that only 9% of our Hispanic 11th graders are proficient in English. She said, “what’s the impact of the additional travel time, especially if by bus, of travelling from Prospector to Ecker Hill (vs Prospector to the Kearns Campus)”?
That answer is probably somewhere between 20 to 30 minutes if travelling by car or 45-plus minutes if traveling by bus. Currently 6th and 7th grade students make that journey but under the new plan, that will be 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. So more students are impacted. Then we have to take into account studies that indicate that when adolescents get as little as 30 minutes less sleep each night their performance is impacted. Riding a bus for an hour will thus impact waking times, unless later start times are introduced for 5th to 8th grades.
Census numbers tell us that about 1,800 Hispanic persons live in the area between Old Ranch Road and municipal Park City (1500 of those 1,800 Hispanic persons live within very close proximity to Kearns). In contrast, the population of Hispanic persons in other areas (i.e. Pinebrook, Kimball Junction, Trailside, Jeremy Ranch) total approximately 1100. That means there are about 63% more Hispanic persons near the Kearns campus than are near to the Ecker Hill campus.
So it is likely many kids in our hardest hit educational group, will likely have some additional hardship, because of moving two additional grades to the burbs, that requires more travel time, thus impacting performance.
Now, does that fear come to fruition? Do our Hispanic kids get a worse education because of this? I guess we’ll see. There are so many variables that it would be hard to prove (either way). That said, it sure does seem like a bit of a head-wind.
The one thing I’m surprised about, though, is that this never seemed to come up in School Board discussions over the plan. There was a lot of talk over all day kindergarten to help our Hispanic kids and a little talk over school start times, but the two concepts never seemed to be discussed in concert. Never once did I hear the question asked, “What’s the impact of travel times to our Hispanic kids if we move 5th and 8th grades out to Ecker?” Nor did I hear an answer.
I know the School Board’s Master Planning Committee spent about 9 months discussing school needs, but the more I consider the issue, the more I wonder whether the School Board spent enough time to really understand all of the impacts of the choices they made.