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Live Blog of the School’s Last Public Focused Master Planning Meeting

Tonight we are at the School District’s public meeting related to rebuilding its Kearns Campus and moving Treasure Mountain to Ecker Hill. The connection is a little spotty, so I’ll do my best to keep up.

Click Read More to follow along…

Unfortunately the connection was pretty poor, so it wasn’t possible to blog in real-time. However, it was an interesting meeting. Many different perspectives were presented. Here is the play by play:


Rory Murphy: Explaining how the Committee got to where it is today.

Rory: Most of this is influx and we are here to get your opinion. We spent last Fall trying to understand what the issues are.

Rory: Two of our schools have reached capacity. This is due to a bubble of kids (2009-2013) coming through. That’s why we don’t want to build new schools. During the great recession, foreclose\d second homes were bought by primary home owners. Our concern is that if we build another school, kids from outside of the Park City area will use our schools.

Rory is explaining the demographics and the number of people coming through. He says Todd Hauber (Business Admin) will be explaining how they got the estimates for the number of kids coming through the school system.

Rory: This is not a final decision. We are taking input and will send an opinion to the School Board for a decision.

Rory: I love that I have received 20 emails in my inbox today about tonight’s event. This is emotional stuff. I ask that we give everyone the respect they deserve. Please direct questions to me or Sean Morgan (the co-chair of the Committee).

Dr Ember Conley (School Superintendent): Thanks for coming. My friend Nancy DeFord, and former school superintendent, says I am a little scary right now. I think that’s because I’m passionate about this. Three school board members are here tonight to hear your concerns.

Dr. Conley: I like to start with why we are here. We want to provide an excellent education for our kids in Park City. It’s en exciting time to be an educator. We have to be on the top of our game. We have to teach the skills of the future.

Dr. Conley: I received an email from a person today asking why we are doing the things we are doing when we aren’t even in the top schools in the nation. This is because we are trying to speak to specific educational goals.

Dr. Conley is now going through the district learning plan. She is talking about how the district didn’t have a learning plan when she arrived. She said they are seeing improvements in standardized test like SAGE.

Dr. Conley: We have looked at other districts and have found that we are unique. We have high performing students and very low performing students.

Dr. Conley: Our SAGE results showed that only 9% of our 11th graders who were hispanic were proficient in English. These students had been int he district for a long time. We determined that we needed to get after the problem when the students were young.

Dr. Conley: We have found that our students who have been in our preschool are getting to grade level quickly. We are modeling our kindergarten after our successful preschool program. We want our teachers who are teaching K-2 to have a reading endorsement.

Dr Conley: As you know, every school offers dual immersion. Two schools are spanish and two are french. We have had our first dual immersion class enter Ecker Hill Middle School. This is causing challenges.

Dr Conley: 5 of 7 school are at capacity. At Trailside, we will have portable classrooms. Parley’s is at capacity as well.

Todd Hauber (Business Admin): I am the business guy. We have looked at our facilities and enrollement.

Todd is showing a graph of the enrollment at our schools. He is showing a large jump in growth between 2010 and 2013. He says we are looking at about 2% growth going forward. He is showing a table showing about 400 people per class. He says we have to determine whether schools wil stay at that rate or whether it wil return to about 300 people per class.

Todd Hauber: We worked with a demographer to look at enrollment trends. If we are at the low end, we could have a shrinkage in the number of students. This is due to low brith rates. If that holds, we will have a .3% shrinkage in students. At the high end it is 2.3% growth. The mid-line is about 1.1% growth. This would be 60 students coming into the district each year for the next 5 years.

Todd is now showing a VERY SMALL table with the estimated development in various areas across the Park City area. He says that this has been controversial because some of the areas like Deer Valley show more growth of students than a lot of people agree with.

Looks like about 115 people here.

Todd is now showing the capacity of existing schools. This is based on a state formula. The capacity is based on a threshold which is 90% of the maximum number of students. We are close to capacity and therefore feel we need to look at how we manage this.

Sean Morgan, co-chair of the committee is now speaking. He is talking about the process they followed in the committee. He says they took all sorts of variables into account. He says they had 3 workshops to talk about this issue. He says they tried to give education to the community members during the first workshop.During the second workshop he says the community members broke into 6 groups and devised plans. He says each group presented the plans and they cam up with pros and cons. During the 3rd workshop the Planning Copany cam back with 3 plans. He says everyone got to vote on the 3 plans.At the conclusion of the 3rd workshop, it became clear that “Scheme 3” was the preferred plan.

Sean Morgan: Then we went out to the community. This is the third community workshop related to that. We will then take all feedback received and will weigh everything. We will take comments from this meeting and other meetings, email, etc to determine what the an should be and whether they want to move forward.

Sean is now describing Scheme 3. He says they added a new wing were Dosier is because a corridor can be extended out from the central core of the building out. He says that they didn’t choose to put the new High School wing near the Eccles Center because the circulation of students is poor. He says they didn’t go north because it gets in the way of the loading docks and the utilities in the ground. He says they could go out into the parking lot but its not optimal.

A community member just shouted that the school was designed to extend wings into the parking lot. This could be interesting.

Sean is now talking about MCPolin changes. He says they wanted to move the parking lot and play areas.He says when we expand the High School it causes Dosier Field to be moved. He says we have heard from community members that many don’t like that. He says there are ways to not move Dosier.

Sean is now talking about sports. He says they concept as to make all athletics be on the east side of the campus. He says the gyms aren’t big enough so they contemplated adding a year-round field house that would provide all the things they need. This would also allow better spaces for brnad/dance/arts.

Sean says they are planning on keeping the District Office where it is. They will also keep the Learning Center where it is.

Sean is now talking about Treasure. He says it has met its useful life. The decision in this plan was to raise Treasure Mountain.

Sean now is talking about where the 5/6 school should be. He says the idea was that we would have a 5-8 at the Ecker campus and the High School on Kearns. He says this would take out a transition between schools because 5th-8th would be generally in the same place. He says that has impacts like busing kids. There would be additional traffic near Ecker, too. He says that traffic on Kearns may be helped, though.

Rory Murphy is now talking about costs. He says one of the biggest issues is always the money. He says they put together a wish list without putting money into it. There are huge price tags associated with it. He says it is not fair to discuss this without costs. He says they had 4 contracting groups sit down and they estimated the costs. The estimated costs are:

TMJH Demolish: $500-700K
PCHS Expansion: $16-$22 Million
Relocate Dosier: $3-$4 million
5/6 School: $25-$29 million

Total: $46-$56 million

Rory Murphy says they have $19 million the bank. He says they know its expensive.

Sean Morgan is now going through comments they have heard. Here are the categories:

* Why move Dosier? Seems like it will increase noise and light pollution. That decreases property values
* Wasted money
* Building an athletic facility on east side of campus is too far to walk.
* If that athletic complex is open to community it will add more traffic
* Do we need an indoor field house?
* 5th-8th campus has conerns over busing time
* Should we create two separate campuses (5-8th on each campus)
* Overall price is too much
* This has been a rushed process. However three are pressures to do this now. 1) Pressure to realign grades. 2) It will be more expensive later.

Citizen Questions:

Park Meadows Citizen: Does engineering allow school to go up?
Response: We are looking at that now. It appears that is possible. When we get to third level we don’t meet city requirements for height. Aslo meeting code is more expensive.

Park Meadows Citizen (also president of lacrosse club): The need for a fieldhouse is big. Getting field time is extremely hard. We live in a snowy environment. Basin Rec is over capacity. If we built another field house it would be instantly over capacity. Verne, Wasatch, and Morgan already have these. We deserve those too. I put together numbers today. If we look at field sports there appears to be 2000 kids involved in organized sports. He says we need indoor fields.

Summit Park Citizen: I want to piggyback on the previous person. I want to talk about the reality. If you look at the weather it can say sunny but then it can be so cold that kids can’t feel their hands. If we want to be a top 10 school system, then we need facilities like this. Let’s build a great facility for the great future of our children.

Park West Village Citizen: While we put money into an athletic facility, we also need to budget for band and visual arts. We need to pit money into those program too.

Park Meadows Resident: I made comments about students walking to athletic facility. I’m not sure if that what would happen. I have McPolin kids and they walk slowly. I think it puts McPolin kids at risk. It needs to be considered. I don’t mind athletic facilities, though. I have a question about what happens next year when I have a fifth grader. Will we have trailers all over Park City in 2016?
Response: That is under discussion. It is not a small problem. We havne’t come up witha final-final plan. There is likely to be some trailers. We may not move the kids out of the elementary schools right away. We might keep Treasure Mountain up fro a while. We have been thinking about it.

Park Meadows Citizen: The problems I see is that its not a Master plan. It’s a Master Wish List. It should have been considered before they spent $30 million on the existing high school a few years ago. This school district ha s abad record on capital spending. If you look at the spending over years it is 5-6 times what is spent on average. We want to tear down TMJH because we don’t like it. There is value in the building and value in Dosier. This plan ignores the expansion plans that are in place. These arguments seem highly illogical. As an architect, I have been involved in school bond election. I have never seen anyone come to the public asking for $100 million without getting professional estimators to come in. It shouldn’t just be general estimates.I nat to see Park City have the best education in the country. I don’t see how a field house helps with that. I don’t see how the school district should take the lead with that.

Citizen: Treasure Mountain Junior High is dangerous and it needs to go away.However, I’m not in favor of having a new plan that causes walking to atheltic facilities. I like the idea of using the parking lots pr the baseball fields for expansion. You could also put a 9th grade academy on the baseball fields. Some parents are concerned with 9th and 12th graders mixing.

Park Meadows Citizen: The biggest thing to me was that I was invovled in the revamp of Treasure Mountain school 15 years ago. We should have gotten rid of it then. I have kids in school. What we have leanred is that the walk prevents kids form doing things. My fear is that the east side athletic facilities are used primarily after school because it takes to long to walk.

Park Meadows Citizen: I’m all for having another fieldhouse. I question, though, whether it is the right location. I see the traffic and I think it will add to the worst choke point in town. I don’t think we should move Dosier Field. We should have the expansion where the daycare is. We can then expand the parking lots to whee the baseball field is. I am worried about kids riding a bus for 40 minutes going to Ecker Hill. I also worry about the traffic near Ecker Hill.
Response: If something goes into Ecker HIll the county will have to do something with the traffic there.

Park Meadows Citizen: I’ve been through these process before.I’ve tried to follow this and get other comments. I think Rory made the key point that there are many wants and many needs. The challenge is separating these two. My concern is that there are too many wants versus needs.I think we need to figure out how to draw the line It’s too aggressive, costly, and ambitious. I advaocate for a scaled back program. There are only a few of the community here. When the rest of the publci vote and see a big cost, they will say no. That will man that the needs are not met because the wants were too big.

Citizen: There is a difference between wish list and needs. My personal opinion is add on to the high school, expand it to the parking lot, don’t do the field house. I won’t vote for the big bond.

Silver Creek: I teach at Treasure Mountain and teach film. I trust that arts will be taken care of. I think this is an unrealistic wish list. I am fearful of taking the bond of this magnitude to the people. I was part of the 3 workshops. Many questions about transportation were not answered during those meetings. They aren’t still answered. There are too many questions to answer, still. We were told that getting rid of another school by moving to Ecker would lighten up the loads on traffic. We are not going to lighten the loads on Kearns if we have an athletic facility. Also, kids will drive to PE across the campus. If there is nervousness about 9th graders, we had 8th graders walk over to high school. Aren’t we opening anogher problem about knowing who is an appropriate adult walking with kids and who should not be walking. Should we move elementary school too? There are too many questions. We need to slow down. We could survive in Treasure Mountain for a few more years. We need to slow down.

Park Meadows: I have kids in 3 different schools. My first daughter was in the first preschool at McPolin. There are many studies about preschool and jury is out on preschool and that is one of the basis of this. We should maybe let it play out whether our kids should be in preschool. I would love to have Dosier neare my house bu I don’t think it makes sense to walk there. Four years is a lot of time to bus our kids to Ecker Hill. This process has bee rushed. I would hate for this population demographic plan…what if the population falls off. There are many schools where population stagnates. What if we do this master plan and the population doesn’t grow.

Jeremy Ranch: The goal should be education but we can’t brush off athletics. I am the co-president of girls lacrosse committee. I can answer why we do so well in Lacrosse. Our girls are forced to practice in January and February outside in freezing weather. They are forced out of the Basin Fieldhouse by kids coming up from Salt Lake.

Ranch Place Citizen: I think busing kids is OK. I live in the Junction and my kids bus for 4 years. I’d like equality. I’m concerned that the fieldhouse should be handled by the county.

Pinebrook Citizen: I moved here form Michigan and Leawood Kansas. My parents were educators and education is important to me. I believe we need to be financial stewards of the public money I think there are ways to prioritize plans so as much money isn’t being spent. Msot of my kids are multi sport kids. They are involved in performing arts. All those activities are important for a well rounded kid. Our athletics are undeserved. Our gyms are smaller and subpar compared to other 3A schools. Locker rooms are unsafe and teams won’t use them. Our field-sports children are forced to practice outside in freezing wet weather. We don’t have a good weight room. My husband is the wrestling coach here. As you look at the needs versus wants, extra curricular activities are needs and not wants.

Citizen: I’m one of your coaches at the high school. I coach track and field. I have to take my kids out to the Basin fieldhouse in the offseason and they have to pay money. This is because our school doesn’t have the facilities necessary. I don’t see many kids from SLC coming up it is mostly Park City kids. During the winter months I have to compete with Poland, Sweden, etc and my kids can’t train in the winter months. For Track we don’t have an indoor facility. Do we want to make due or get something better. If we leave Dosier, then we have to make the courts here better.

Sun Peak Citizen: I had the chance to go to every away football and basketball game. Our facilities are not up to those schools. We are on par with Ben Loaman. We are supposed to be the antithesis of what they are. I have been around sports my whole life. Sports is just as important as education.

Jeremy Ranch Citizen: Park City taxes are way low compared to elsewhere. To me $19 doesn’t seem too outrageous. My fear is that if we leave it as is, and mush things together, in 5 years we will be in the same place as we are now.

Citizen: Have raised 6 kids. I have shoveled a ton of snow off fields. It would be great to have a nice facility but as we look at this, if we look at all the facilties we have built, we have spent tens of millions and never spent it right. Maybe we tear down McPolin and move all the athletics to near the high school. We have spent $50 million on the high school and the gym is a piece of junk. When I look at my kid, they remember the athletic parts of their life but they also think of their teachers. Maybe this is moving too fast. I have raised good kids because of the teachers. As we go through the process, focusing on the students instead of the buildings is better. We need to push this process into the classroom. Perhaps moving Dosier field is a good thing. Let’s push it out a bit and not do it all at once.

Citizen: I’m an Ecker Hill teacher. 5th/6th grades go great together. Fieldhouse is a must. I hate the walking but I love expanding the High School.


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