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What’s on tap for Tuesday’s Park City School Board Meeting

On Tuesday, March 15th, the Park City School District Board of Education will meet at 3:30 PM. While usually we are warned to “Beware the Ides of March,” there is nothing particularly scary scheduled for this meeting. However, there are a number of topics being discussed that may interest you. The items below are from the school district agenda:

  • FY23 Budget (here is the document)
    • Revenues are forecasted to be down 2.3%
    • ESSER funding for positions is going away. These were monies from Covid funding and could impact positions at our schools.
    • Existing employee contracts will require an additional $2.2 million this year, due to the teacher negotiations a few years ago.
    • The Master Plan (i.e. the bond that was passed) requires PCSD to start paying $3 million in debt payments in 2023.
    • $49.8 million of non-bonded capital projects will be paid for in 2023, including $42 million in new financing.
  • Fees (here is the document)
    • This agenda item is to present the fees that will be in place next year.
    • The discussion of fees for 2023 was held last year, so I don’t know how many conversations there will be on this topic.
    • The maximum amount of fees per student is $6K per year. Maximum fees for families are $12K per year.
    • Each program is different, so to understand the maximum fees you would want to look at the fee schedule above.
    • Lunch is going up by about 4% for kids and 13% for adults.
  • Legislative Session (here is the document)
    • Business Administrator, Todd Hauber, will present on Utah Legislative decisions that will impact schools.
    • The range of impacts is broad. This isn’t a decision on what Park City Schools should do but it reflects what the State of Utah says our schools must do :
      • A student’s birth certificate will determine which gender-designated sports a student can compete in.
      • School water taps have to be tested for lead by 12/31/23.
      • More stringent requirements are coming that require public bodies to be in-person at meetings during voting issues.
      • Provide period products in restrooms.
      • Dropout prevention programs are now required for school districts.
      • The Utah State Board of Education must provide an online tool to compare schools, so parents have more choice when choosing their students’ schools.
      • Schools must include parents, reflective of the school’s community, in order to discern what materials are sensitive and thus can’t be used in instructive materials.
      • More paid professional hours for education (up to 32 hours), will be funded by the State Board of Education.
      • The Dakota Pacific Amendment, which enables the project to be built without community involvement, will impact our schools.
      • Ethnic Studies becomes part of the Utah Core Standards requirements.
    • Mr. Hauber will also present on other bills passed during the legislative session.
  • Seven new policies will be discussed/passed:
    • Sexual Harassment under Title IX (new policy)
    • Criminal History Record Information (new policy)
    • Paid Leave for Maternity and Paternity (updated)
      • Note: There are significant changes in this policy and you may want to look at this one.
        • You now must have worked for the district for 12 consecutive months and be eligible for benefits to receive Leave.
        • Leave is now 240 hours (versus 30 workdays). That sounds equivalent but It is also pro-rated by FTE.
        • Leave can only be used one time during a 24 month period.
        • After paid leave, you must work for 90 days of service or you have to pay back everything.
    • Wellness
      • Nutrition services used to continuously review school menus “in conjunction with a registered dietitian and/or qualified nutrition advocacy group to determine opportunities….” That part in quotes is going away.
    • Student Enrollment
      • The district appears to be removing language that stopped disabled students, who utilize open enrollment, from attending Park City Schools in certain cases. It appears this policy change would loosen requirements.
    • Permit and use of School District property
      • When third parties use school property they are expected to pay for it (especially for-profit entities).
      • This change limits the number of days a third party can use the facilities in a year.
    • Family Rights and Privacy
      • This further defines what student information can be shared by the school district.

If you want to attend the meeting in person, it’s at the School District Office (2700 Kearns Blvd, go through the door on the left and then turn right) and starts at 3:30 PM. If you want to provide public comment about anything not on the agenda, you would want to be there before 5 PM. If the topic is on the agenda and you want to speak on it, the Board may let you speak but they don’t have to. They provide you with three minutes to speak.

You can also provide public comment by emailing  by 2:00 PM on the day of the meeting.

If you would rather watch the meeting online you can do that on PCSD’s YouTube channel. I would encourage you to do this if you have time. It’s always informative.

Park City’s Powder Bouy isn’t predicting good things

Do you even want to ski anymore? Are you already considering biking as we approach February? Are you looking forward to shorts-weather? Well, the Powder Bouy supports your resignation.

For those who don’t follow an NOAA buoy that sits off the coast of Kauai, here is the primer. When this little piece of plastic, that sits in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Hawaii, sees its wave-height increase dramatically then two weeks later it snows in Park City. It’s pretty simple.

There is a whole website about it and it’s pretty interesting. Take a look at the site and it shows the last “pop” was November 10th. That means we should have had a storm around the 24th. Bingo. Not much since then? Bingo.

Here is the most recent report from the buoy and it doesn’t look good. As a matter of fact, I have never seen it at 5 Feet. When a storm is coming in, it is quite often at 30 feet or higher.

Let me do my best to depress you even more. Here is the forecast for the remainder of the ski season from the NOAA.

Hotter:

Drier:

According to the buoy, things don’t look great through mid-February. Let’s hope that turns around and the NOAA’s best and brightest are wrong on temperatures. Typically February and March are our best snowfall months.

This year, so far, is the poster boy for why we need a Tech Park.

We need to diversify our economy. Vail isn’t where it’s at.

We are staring down the need for Park City 3.0 –whether we realize it yet or not.

Park City School Board to consider switching to remote learning tomorrow at 10 AM

Earlier today, Utah Governor Spencer Cox opened the door for schools to return to remote learning due to the Covid Omicron variant onslaught. The Park City School Board has scheduled an emergency board meeting for tomorrow at 10 AM to discuss whether schools should go remote.

This could mean that one, some, or all of our schools will change to remote learning next week due to the Omicron variant striking Park City.

Earlier today, we received what seems to be copy of a text from Park City High School Principal Roger Arbabi to teachers confirming that school will be in person tomorrow.

We will provide more information as it becomes available.

Vail is desperately stupid in Park City

This imagery from KPCW is the funniest thing I have seen in weeks. Mountains. Check. Well-dressed CEO posing on a multi-million dollar deck. Check. A couple of dollars for employees. Check.

Yes, Vail employees, if you will work until the last day, whether there is snow or not, and if we continue to employ you, you will get $2 per hour more.

Did the ski patrollers not get this memo?

I’m sure it will change their minds.

It represents much of what is wrong with Park City today.

Viewing Updated Park City School District Covid Numbers

Many of us want to better understand the number of cases of Covid in the Park City School District. We have provided a link for a couple of years; however, last year PCSD changed how they are reporting numbers and our current link no longer worked.

That has been updated. So, now if you want to find out the current number of cases, you can click on the link in the upper right portion of the screen (or in the pancake menu on mobile devices).

Sorry for not updating that sooner.

Here is the link.

A way to help Park City teachers with Covid-19

On any random Tuesday, teachers have a tough job. Throw in a worldwide pandemic, coupled with a new Covid variant that may be as contagious as measles, and teachers are between a rock and hard place. They are in close quarters with children for 7+ hours a day and those children often don’t follow the best practices.

When I think about today’s Park City classroom, I imagine a video like the Jurassic Park DNA sequence but with Covid viruses floating around. That’s a lot of viruses floating through the classroom. I’m not a scientist but I do know:

Amount of virus in the air + Time of exposure = Odds of catching it

That is leading to teachers becoming sick. When they are sick or have been exposed to someone who is, they have to quarantine at home for at least 5 days. Some teachers have a support structure and others don’t.

If you’d like to help those teachers who are infected with Covid and may need a little help, please consider supporting a local program that provides Grubhub and supermarket gift cards for Park City teachers out sick (and their families).

Everyone needs a little help now and then. Teachers support our community every day. This is an opportunity for us to support them back.

Here is the web page that explains how you can help.

Park City poop confirms we are in trouble with Covid

As they say, poop doesn’t lie. In this case, poop is telling us that Covid is running rampant through the Snyderville Basin and Park City. Every week, Utah’s Water Quality department posts the amount of Covid found in sewage at each water treatment facility.

The last time we checked in was September 2021 and we were doing pretty well. We were running at about 200 MGC (million gene copies) per person per day. MGC is a measure of the amount of Sars-Cov-2 found in sewage. Today we are running at 12,448 MGC at the East Canyon WRF that serves much of the Snyderville Basin and 17,989 MGC at the Silver Creek WRF that serves much of Park City and the eastern side of the Basin.

For reference, The Snyderville Basin’s numbers increased 16-fold since before Christmas. Park City’s numbers have increased 12-fold since December 21. This number is likely influenced both by locals getting Covid and increased tourists bringing the virus in.

Either way, it points to confirmation that Summit County’s mask mandate is warranted. Hopefully, that measure will help stem the spike, so that schools and local’s lives can get back to normal. However, for now, we are in the thick of it.

Silver Creek WRF (handles much of Park City)

East Canyon WRF (handles much of Basin)

Note: the way the Utah Water Quality Department has changed since our September 2021 article. So our previous article references a different measurement scale. This story uses the new numbers.

Park City School District and the Health Department had better figure out what to do with Park City High School amid Covid surge

Cases of Covid-19 are spiking at Park City High School. Currently, 46 kids have tested positive. Normally, more than 30 students with Covid would trigger what’s called “Test to Stay” at the school. This would mean that all students would need to be tested to continue in-person classes. However, due to the language in the Utah Legislation that created the Test to Stay program, if a student hasn’t been in school for the last 14 days, they aren’t counted. Due to the Christmas break, 29 of the 46 cases aren’t counted versus the Test to Stay threshold at PCHS.

So what we have is an outbreak, that can’t be officially treated as an outbreak, because of legislative rules. However, the Park City School Board, School District, and Health Department need to be treating this as a major issue. Covid cases at the high school are going to blow up; Test To Stay will be triggered. The numbers could be so staggering that the Summit County Health Department will have to put in mandates. There may be so many kids out of school that the district has to make alternate plans for remote education.

Why do I say this? The transmission capability of Omicron and personal experience. I got Covid before Christmas. I am triple vaxxed and likely got Omicron while waiting an hour for takeout, while wearing a mask, at Bombay house in SLC. I tested positive for Covid a couple of days later. My kids took a PCR test and tested negative. A couple of days after that, they tested positive. My story isn’t uncommon.

Whether a high school student tested positive on the morning before classes started, and thus they are not counted in the numbers, is irrelevant. Many high school kids are social and likely have spread this to their friends. Their friends will test negative for a bit and then they will test positive. Between the two tests, they will spread it to others.

I would be remiss if I didn’t state that Omicron seems rather benign for many people. It was for my family. However, public policy is not that nuanced. A positive test is a positive test and that will dictate the actions taken. I would guess we will have 150 positives at PCHS within a week. I wouldn’t be shocked if the number stretched to 300 at some point soon.

The question is what the School Board, School District, and Summit County Health Department are doing about this?

Let’s start with the School Board. I was a little shocked that there wasn’t an emergency meeting being held by the Park City School Board. I would think the board would want to discuss issues they find important, given the fact that the high school will likely move to a Test to Stay paradigm. Also, after the debacle at Parley’s Park earlier this year, I would think the board would want to ask some pointed questions of Superintendent Gildea and the district:

  • Have you communicated with the Health Department to ensure there are enough tests (and testing teams) for 1,500 high school students to be tested?
  • If there are not enough tests, and the school goes full remote, has the district communicated with teachers and students on how remote learning will work? Have they planned for reaching out to ELL and disadvantaged students to ensure all students are treated equitably.
  • How will Test to Stay practically work at the High School? Will it delay start times? How do we keep students safe while waiting for testing?
  • For students that choose remote learning, or have to be remote, what plans do we have in place to help hundreds of students continue their learning process?
  • Given the numbers at the high school, can we change any procedures to make students safer?
  • Given student numbers, what can we do to keep teachers safe?

The board may say, we are on top of it, and emailing back and forth to make sure we are in a good place. The problem with that is that it violates Open Meeting laws. The public has a right to know what policy discussions are taking place in an open forum. So, there needs to be an official meeting.

From the School District and Health Department’s point of view, I think their Test to Start program that is available from 7:15 until 9:15 AM at the High School and Ecker Hill is a great start. However, I can’t find any information on Test to Stay protocols, which are likely going to be needed soon. The only mention is that that “At that time [after thresholds are met], Test to Stay protocols will be distributed to families. Compare this to the Alpine School District where they already clearly define what will happen and have a parental consent system ready.

Maybe that’s because Alpine School District has 89 schools and they take it more seriously. However, you’d think with only 7 schools in the Park City School District, we could have a plan ready and posted.

There is a lack of trust with the Park City School District. I ask myself if at 2 PM this afternoon the district gets word that over 30 students at PCHS, that can be “counted,” have Covid, will they successfully execute Test to Stay tomorrow?

Granted, I am a skeptic, but I don’t think so. I think it will be a mess. I hope they prove me wrong. To do that they will need:

  • Top notch communications to the public that explains what is happening and how this works
  • Excellent communciations for teachers/staff to explain how this impacts them.
  • A process for testing all students quickly and efficiently.
  • A mechanism to get parental consent for testing and a way to relay that to the people doing testing.
  • A system for recording all data.

They will need all of this on day one. Whether that is today or next week.

Perhaps I am wrong and we won’t cross that threshold requiring Test to Stay at PCHS. However, we already blew past that, except for technicalities. Perhaps the school district and Health Department have table-topped this, so they have a plan in place that will survive the first encounter with students. That would be great and I would love to be wrong. Perhaps, the school district learned from the incident at Parley’s Park and has spent the month of December planning for this.

However, I fear that the district is so intent on making sure schools stay open that they haven’t accounted for, what seems now, the inevitability.

We should know soon enough.

This is a train headed down the track right toward us. I hope the district has got this. If they do, then it will go a ways toward me believing they have things under control. I would conclude that they have learned from the Parley’s Park incident and it engenders more trust.

If not, it’s likely many key school district players won’t politically survive the repercussions.

More information about Test to Stay is available here.

The Dakota Pacific Project is dead for now. Great Job Park City.

I firmly believe the only politics you can individually effect are local politics. Park City and Summit County residents demonstrated that with the Dakota Pacific project. Kudos to Mitch Solomon, and Friends of Summit County for Responsible Growth, for organizing an overwhelming community effort to Stop Dakota Pacific.

For all intents and purposes, Dakota Pacific is dead. Dakota Pacific has said they are working on a new proposal but that they cannot afford to spend another year working through details. Given that any reworked proposal will likely go back to the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission, there will be more than a year of discussions. Given Summit County is considering a development moratorium for six months, so that County Planners can catch a breathe, it’s likely more like two years for Dakota to come back. It sounds like Dakota’s economics won’t support that. That, in of itself, tells you something.

What that ultimately means is that Snyderville Basin residents have a chance to figure out what the area of land under the UOP should be. It could be a Tech Park. I am in favor of that. This winter so far has shown we have to diversify our economy. It could be a space for both affordable housing and an Olympic Village for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Olympics. If done well, that could solve a number of needs. It could be open space, trails, and an extension of Run-a-muck, if Summit County buys it at a discount and designates it as such.

Regardless, we the people did something special. A month ago the common wisdom was that four of five County Councilors would vote for Dakota Pacific. Today, that is no longer happening. Thanks to the people of the Snyderville Basin caring enough to become educated, showing up, and speaking, we made a difference.

No longer is Summit Couty giving a prized parcel away to a developer. We have the opportunity to make something better.

Thanks to all of you!