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Is the School Board Acting Like a Dictatorship?

A friend of the Park Rag emailed in reference to the idea that the Park City School District will move forward with rebuilding schools even if the public votes down the bond. The person described the district as a DICTATORSHIP and asked what I thought.

I definitely think the term dictatorship is too strong and in this case is not right. The School Board is an elected body, and every few years we the citizens have the right to decide who represents us. That said, the school rebuilding decision is one of the most important decisions our school board will make. Perhaps even bigger will be choosing the next school superintendent (since it impacts actual education). It is likely that the school board will be picking a replacement for Dr Ember Conley in the next few years (average tenure is 4 years). So, the members of the school board matter both today and tomorrow.

Instead of using terms like dictator, I’d advise spending time on figuring out whether your school board members represent your views. If we are to believe the “message” that when we go to the polls this November and vote for/against a bond to transform Park City schools, that we aren’t voting on the plan, we are voting how to pay for it, then that makes the selection of Park City School Board members all that more important. If the main say we have as citizens is just in casting ballots for members every few years, we’d better pick wisely.

Please don’t take me wrong. This isn’t a call for getting rid of school board members. However, it is a call to ask you to both understand whether you’ve liked the process used to transform our schools to date (i.e. you’d be happy if the same process was followed going forward) and to keep track of the outcome of the school rebuild. You may really like how the school rebuilding has been handled to date and you may really like how it all works out. Then I’d use that information to base your choices in the 2016 election (next year). If you aren’t as happy, I’d remember that too.

Keep in mind that the rebuild was a unanimous decision. So, if you’re happy you’ll want to factor that into your decision in November 2016 for incumbents (Tania Knauer, Philip Kaplan, and Nancy Garrison) that may choose to run again. Likewise, if you are unhappy, you should remember that too.

Either way, calling people names doesn’t do much — especially when you throw around terms like dictator. In reality, democracy can be a pretty powerful weapon.


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