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You’re going to pay more taxes to the Park City School District than you should

Park City School District’s clarity and trust continue to take hits.

Let’s say 20 years ago PCSD took out a loan and the final payment is this month. They could either acknowledge that they have paid off their debt and let taxes drop because the school district’s loan has been paid off. Or PCSD could say, we could really use that extra money and no one will notice, so let’s keep charging it.

That’s where we are.

And that’s what the school district is doing. While the certified tax rate should drop this year to reflect the fact that the school district paid off a capital levy, the school board wants to keep the rate artificially high because they could use that money to pay for cost overruns for construction at Jeremy Ranch and McPolin. They want taxes to be about $42 higher per year, for the average house, than they should be. They hope you won’t notice.

If we delve into trust issues deeper, the school district said they wouldn’t raise taxes to fund improvements at Jeremy and McPolin. However, the improvements will increase our taxes over what they would have been. During the recent school board meeting, Andrew Caplan tried to defend the concept by saying, “The promise was that we will not raise taxes beyond the current debt service.” To me, he is parsing words. The developments at Jeremy Ranch and McPolin were supposed to be paid for by increased revenue growth and not taxes. Dr. Gildea said they would be paid for by bake sales. This is clearly not the case. The cost overruns of 1-3% are now being paid for by taxes. This is unacceptable.

Instead of decreasing the tax burden on residents, as they should be doing, the School district is trying to hide cost overruns by removing tax decreases. Yes, it is complicated, but the bottom line is that your taxes should be less than they will be.

As someone who has been following this closely it is infuriating. The district signed up for $40 million in improvements based on lease revenue bonds. These weren’t supposed to raise taxes. Now we are hearing that we will pay more in taxes than we otherwise would and that money will be used for development related to these bonds. That’s a tax increase.

It’s another example of why there is little trust in the Park City School District and why we need a change.

Park City School Board is likely violating First Amendment rights with its public comment policy

Tuesday, Park City parent Kris Choi spoke to the Park City School Board during the open comment portion of the board meeting. Her concern was regarding the superintendent’s new contract. When Ms. Choi stated the responsibilities of the superintendent and then asked why her contract was renewed given the sexual abuse scandal, school board member Andrew Caplan stated, “First, this is exactly what we stated is not allowed. Talking about a specific person is not welcome in public comment.” They shut her down.

About 30 minutes later I received a text from another parent who had apparently been watching the school board meeting. Their question was, “Josh. Quick question for you. If the PCSD Board meeting is ‘not the forum’ to ask specific questions regarding personnel, where is? Thanks!”

That’s a darn good question.

The problem is that when people have a problem with how our schools are run, where are they supposed to go? If the issue is with the Superintendent and/or the board who do they address that with? Likewise, to the person who reached out to me, I would say that all positions should be on the table for discussion. If a person has a problem with a principal, teacher, or the firing of a baseball coach they should be able to address that in front of the governing body.

The school board doesn’t have to respond. The board can listen and then thank the person for their comments. However, in the case of Ms. Choi, she was shut down because she wanted to discuss the superintendent’s contract. Previously I witnessed a substitute teacher, Sarah Altschuler, shut down because she wanted to ask questions about why she wasn’t allowed to teach at certain schools. She couldn’t even speak about herself.

It’s not right, and it’s apparently not legal.

Yes, cue up the next in line of legal wrongdoings by the Park City School District. The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) has done a thorough analysis of this exact question. According to the SPLC, “It’s increasingly commonplace for districts to impose restrictions on what members of the public may say during the open-microphone portion of board meetings. But such restrictions are doubtfully legal, and in a pair of recent interpretations – one in Illinois and one in Virginia – have been found unconstitutional.”

Their legal interpretation is that the “Constitution is not understood to guarantee citizens a right to be heard before their elected officials make a decision.” However, “once an agency does agree to accept public comment, the commenting system cannot be operated in a discriminatory or viewpoint-restrictive way.”

What they mean by that is that the school board doesn’t have to give people the right to speak but once they do, they have to allow people free speech.

They cite the “forum doctrine” from the Supreme Court which says that once an area is designated for public comment, all public comments must be taken. According to Police Dept. of Chicago v. Mosley (1972), once an area is declared a “forum,” then any regulation of free speech is unconstitutional. SLPLC states, “Only if a judge finds that the restriction is absolutely necessary to achieve a compelling governmental purpose will the restrictions be constitutional.”

I think most of us would agree that preventing questions about the superintendent’s contract isn’t a compelling government purpose. Likewise, a substitute teacher should be able to ask questions of the board, too.

This doesn’t mean it’s a free for all, though. A school district can impose limits like 3 minutes of public comment to everyone because the rule is applied equally to all speakers. They can also remove speakers that cause a disturbance, without violating the speaker’s first amendment rights. However, they cannot impose limits based on the words used by a speaker.

So, if Ms. Choi or Ms. Altschuler brought a legal case against the district, would they win? According to SPLC, “When speakers who’ve been restrained from commenting at public meetings bring constitutional challenges, they’ve generally been successful. Judges have no difficulty recognizing that a government meeting is meant for the airing of complaints, even if that requires naming or criticizing a particular employee.” The article provides several examples.

One might also ask the question, “What if someone speaks during public comment and commits slander? Shouldn’t that be reason enough from stopping them from speaking at all, just in case?” SPLC answers that too, “The argument that criticism of employees must be forbidden to prevent defamation fails on two legal grounds. First, not all critical speech is defamatory. Defamation requires proof of a false statement of fact. Accurately describing wrongdoing by a school employee is a non-defamatory act of constitutionally protected speech.”

They continue, “Even if it’s reasonably anticipated that some speakers will abuse the comment period to make defamatory statements, the Supreme Court has made clear that speech cannot be restrained in anticipation that it will harm someone’s reputation. Rather, the proper remedy is to let the speech be heard and – if it causes harm – compensate any injured parties by way of a civil suit for money damages.” United States v. Stevens (2010) and Near v. Minnesota (1931) uphold these arguments.

The Park City School Board is hiding behind a policy that appears to be unconstitutional. I feel strongly enough about this that I have filed a complaint against the Park City School District with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Yes, I am running for School Board, and having to deal with another lawsuit isn’t what the district wants. However, maybe it’s what it needs.

We need to start following the law. We had a failure to follow the law with mask mandates. We had/have alleged unreported child abuse cases. Now we have violations of first amendment rights.

When and where does it end? Repeatedly charged with crimes. Don’t hear the truth. Hide behind policy. Are these the lessons our school district wants to teach our children?

We need a change of culture at the top of our school district. This is another case where the district’s actions don’t look legal and for sure aren’t right.

Hi, I’m Josh Mann. I created the Park Rag in 2012 to tell stories like these. This year, I am running for Park City School Board. I believe that through open communication, we can build a stronger community. Thanks for stopping by.

If the Park City School District settles its child abuse cases, it’s an admission of failure for our children.

Three cases of child abuse in Park City have allegedly gone unreported by the Park City School District. This led Margaret Olson, the Summit County Attorney, to file charges against our school district. Reportedly, the number of unreported cases has grown due to the investigation.

Recently we heard from Mark Moffat, Park City’s Criminal Defense Attorney, that the school district is working on a settlement in the lawsuit. Moffat said to Fox-13 News. “We’re trying to work on a resolution that will work to the benefit of both parties and serve the interests of justice in this case.”


What I, both as a parent and someone who wants to be on our school board, care about is how we are going to help the children that were abused and then how we will NEVER let the abuse go unreported again.

What I need to hear is that the school district committed no wrong. Only that will provide confidence in the school district.

If the Park City School District settles, I will assume the district did something wrong. If they are found guilty, I will know they did something wrong.

If we are hopeful for our schools, PCSD will fight this and be vindicated. They would prove, in a court of law, that they did nothing wrong and supported our children.

The only acceptable outcome of these unfortunate incidents is a non-guilty verdict. We can’t allow a settlement and then not know whether the school district did anything wrong. It may be the way of lawyers, but it doesn’t serve our children.

I’m not naive. I’d guess the PCSD legal counsel has advised the school district to settle. I’d also guess that Utah’s laws that can enforce civil penalties on the school district in these types of cases are weighing into this decision.

However, what I care about are the kids. To me, a settlement is no different from a guilty verdict. It does nothing to prove that my kids are safer. It also tells me that kids were likely harmed in the past and the school district has responsibility. Settling is CYA.

What we need with regard to the Park City School district is leaders being held accountable for their actions. This should go to trial, and the public should understand exactly what happened.

Here we go again with even more Epic Passes being sold.

On a day where the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 are getting crushed, Vail Resorts is up over 1%. Why? Simply, Vail has sold 9% more passes, through May 31, than they did in the same period last year. Here we go again.

Last year they sold over 2.1 million more passes by decreasing pass prices by 20%. This year they slightly increased prices; however, it looks like there will be even more people on the mountain. Let’s hope they can find people who actually want to work there.

What’s a Parkite to do? Deer Valley is always an option, but at $2,675 it is a luxury-level purchase for many of us. Snow Basin is a delight but is nearly an hour away. The Cottonwoods are an option, but the traffic is unbearable.

Is the only winning move, not to play?

What are you doing this year?

Want to talk about Park City Schools? Let’s meet at the Jeremy Ranch Elementary School Playground this Saturday between 4:30 and 6:00 PM.

Hi I’m Josh Mann, and I am running for Park City School Board. I’d love to better understand your concerns with Park City Schools and wanted to provide a way we could speak face to face.

If you’d like to talk, I’ll be on the playground behind JRES from about 4:30 PM until 6:00 PM this Saturday (June 11th). This is the sort of open communication I’d like to foster as part of the school board. Meeting on the playground during the weekends, morning coffees once a month, open lunches, etc. I believe it is important for us to get together, discuss issues, learn from one another, and come up with solutions to our challenging problems.

So, if you’d like to talk, I look forward to seeing you Saturday. Of course, feel free to reach out to me anytime at .

No, you didn’t miss out on the lowest EPIC prices of the season

If you are like me, you are trying to determine whether you missed out on the lowest prices of the season at Vail Park City Mountain Resort. Vail’s marketing said May 30 was the day to lock in the lowest prices of the season.

It is now, May 31st. Well, at least for the Epic Local’s Pass, today’s price is the same as yesterday’s price. You may have missed out on a Buddy Pass or two, but your annual rate didn’t change today. Hallelujah, I suppose.

In reality, many of us are trying to decide whether we want to pony up to pay Deer Valley prices next year. Most would say that Alterra didn’t screw up their local resort as much as Vail did. However, what to buy is a question you can only answer for yourself.

That said, I will say that Snow Basin, only an hour away, has been fabulous every time I have visited before March 1st. Check it out.

So, what are you going to do next year?

The good news is you can still buy a Vail local for $626. The bad news is that Deer Valley costs four times as much… but you get what you pay for.

Park City school class sizes may be a problem next year. It’s time to reach out to the Superintendent and the School Board.

Two weeks ago, I made the plea for parents to register their children for next year at Jeremy Ranch Elementary. Since that time I have heard from teachers and administrators across the district who are sounding warning bells. There are genuine concerns from educators that some elementary classes in Park City schools could have 35 students in a class.

This stems from a number of teachers who appear to be leaving and other teachers who are not having contracts renewed. It’s not likely from an influx of students, as our school numbers have been decreasing.

Now is the time to address this. If you have an elementary-aged student, I would encourage you to reach out to the Park City School Board and Superintendent Jill Gildea and ask what your estimated class size will be next year. As always, please be polite. No one likes to be yelled at, or be accused of malfeasance. However, I do believe our school leaders need to hear from parents that large class sizes are unacceptable.

You’ll likely hear back that the district won’t know until the final registration numbers are in. However, it seems fair to ask the question, “I know things may change, but what does it look like now?” We as parents need to ask this hard question and receive answers. We need to apply the pressure that lets our leaders know this is important. Hopefully, by asking the question now, the district will do everything in its power to keep class sizes at a level where children can learn, teachers don’t get more burnt out, and principals and staff aren’t putting out fires all day, every day.

Here are our Park City School Board members:

Anne Peters1
Andrew Caplan2
Wendy Crossland3
Mandy Pomeroy4
Erin Grady5

If you don’t know what district you are in, you can click on the District Number on this page. It will show you a map.

If you’d like to reach out to Superintendent Dr. Gildea and voice your concerns, her email is:

In a best-case world, the district would publish an estimated class size for each class, in each school for next fall.

What you don’t want to happen is for your seven-year-old to show up on their first day of second grade and have forty kids in their class. By asking the simple question “how many children will be in my child’s class next year?” we can hopefully influence our schools to ensure class sizes are manageable.

Hi, I’m Josh Mann. I created the Park Rag in 2012 to tell stories like these. This year, I am running for Park City School Board. I believe that through open communication, we can build a stronger community. Thanks for stopping by.

Is this the type of behavior we want from a member of the Park City school board?

On Tuesday KPCW published an article titled “Candidates decry opponent’s appointment to Park City school board.” One of those candidates was me, Josh Mann. I, along with Meredith Reed and Mandy Pomeroy, are running for Park City School Board. Ms. Reed and I felt appointing one of the three of us to the board, didn’t serve the democratic process. Ms. Pomeroy disagreed and applied.

I have no problem with Ms. Pomeroy choosing another path; however, how she has conducted herself brings up larger questions.

Ms. Pomeroy could have respectfully disagreed and stated why she felt it was important to apply. Instead, she chose to attack Ms. Reed and me and color our opinion as uninformed and uneducated. In a Park Record editorial she attempted to explain how a bill becomes a law, that because the state legislature has a code it guarantees a democratic process, and that we should just do a “quick Google search.” In truth, she completely missed the point. She didn’t listen, she didn’t ask questions, and she didn’t understand.

Furthermore, In KPCW’s article, Ms. Pomeroy says “the decision by Reed and Mann not to apply for the interim appointment ‘speaks volumes about how they truly feel about their qualifications for the position.’ Ms. Pomeroy doesn’t know me. She doesn’t know my background. I don’t believe we have ever met. Yet, she knows how I feel about my own “lack” of qualifications. Yes, for you who are reading, she also likely knows how you feel about almost everything, as well. That said, her criticism does offer me a chance to talk about my qualifications.

Let’s start with the high-level duties of the school board per school district policy 2005. These are the things our school board should be doing.

  • The Board has the legal power and duty to do all things necessary for the maintenance, prosperity, and success of the schools, the promotion of education and to exercise all powers given by statute.
  • The Board shall determine what conditions are essential to the successful management, good order, and discipline of the schools and the rules required to produce these conditions.
  • The Board shall establish tax rates each year prior to June 22 and submit the proposed rate to the board of commissioners of the county in which the District is located.
  • The Board shall prepare, adopt, and file a budget for the next succeeding fiscal year with the board of commissioners of the county in which the District is located prior to June 22 of each year. 
  • The Board may acquire and hold real and personal property in the name of the District.
  • The Board may close the school(s) or suspend operation if necessary.
  • The Board will evaluate the superintendent and the business administrator.

Here is my background:

  • I have a Business major with an emphasis in Psychology from the University of Kansas. My first job was working for the accounting firm Ernst & Young. I have business and accounting skills.
  • I am a C-level executive for a software company. I am responsible for planning, reviewing, and directing our company’s budget.
  • I have followed, commented on county officials, and written about County taxes since 2012. I not only understand how the tax system works in Utah, and I will treat each dollar spent as my own. Property taxes are rising, and will only rise more in November. I guarantee that I will be a responsible steward of your money.
  • The board must determine conditions that are essential to management, order, and discipline in our schools. In the last year, the school district has defied the County Attorney on mask laws, not done much related to a swastika and hate speech in a Jewish teacher’s classroom, and presided over at least two cases of unreported rape and one case of child abuse. Nothing appears to be being done at the school board level. My background shows that I will not allow that attitude to go forward. We need a change of culture.
  • The board is required to evaluate the Superintendent and Business Administrator. My opinion on Todd Hauber, the current Business Administrator, is clear. If you need to understand the business side of the school district, he knows it all. A week ago I had questions about the district’s lease revenue bonds ($42 million). He spent 20 minutes after the school board meeting answering my questions and explaining how the interest is calculated. As an outsider to the district, I feel Todd Hauber is an A+.

    On the Superintendent, the jury is out. Dr. Gildea has a total compensation of $415,000 a year and she runs seven schools, amid several scandals. That is more compensation per student than any other district in the state. The question is whether we are getting good value for our money. We need to answer that question.

So, I would hope you would agree I am qualified. I care passionately about this and have for more than a decade.

The bottom line is that Ms. Pomeroy is already showing how she will behave as a member of the Park City School Board. They may just be sound bites, but she is demonstrating a tendency toward not listening, not conducting herself respectfully, and jumping to conclusions. These are issues that many in our community have with some members of our current school board.

I believe we need to change the culture of the Park City school board.

If you like the current direction of school board, I would encourage you to vote for Mandy Pomeroy. You’ll get more of the same.

If you want something different, please consider me, Josh Mann, for school board. I have a proven record of asking questions, not being bullied, and listening. I am committed to change.

If I am not your cup of tea, please consider Meredith Reed, who is also running for the school board. Yes, we are running against each other, but I believe she also wants to make our schools better. More information about Ms. Reed can be found here.

Ms. Pomeroy has effectively told me I am uneducated and unqualified. She has told me to “Google It” multiple times when trying to counter why I didn’t feel it was democratic to be appointed to the school board.

If that’s the behavior you want in someone responsible for educating our children, then she is a great choice for you.

If you want someone different, I would appreciate your support in June during the school board primary.

Together, we can make our school district better for our children and the entire community.

A light agenda for today’s Summit County Council meeting

As is typical of Wednesdays, the Summit County Council is meeting today in an open session. If interested you can join the meeting via zoom at around 4:25 PM.

Today’s larger topics include:

  • Discussion and approval of the 2023 Behavioral Health Area Plan. The report on this can be viewed here.
  • Creating the Summit County Open Space Advisory Committee.
  • A public hearing about updating telecom ordinances on the east and west side of the county. This may interest some in the Snyderville Basin as it redefines where telecommunication facilities can be built and under what zoning. It’s one of those things most people don’t care about until they have a reason to care, but you may have a reason.
  • Public input, as usual, will be at 6 PM. You can provide feedback about any topic that is not on the agenda or the subject of a pending land use application.

Register your kids for Jeremy Ranch now to help decrease class sizes

Each year, it’s important to register your children for Park City Schools to help the district plan for the next year. However, this year, if your child attends Jeremy Ranch Elementary it is more important than ever to REGISTER NOW.

Word on the street is that the older grades may not have enough sections to maintain adequate class sizes. The school needs to know the number of kids so they can do everything they can to have enough classes for each grade. This is compounded by the number of teachers that appear to be leaving our schools this year. So, it is not only assigning a teacher to a class but also finding that teacher. That is not easy.

Here is a hypothetical example. Let’s take fifth grade at Jeremy. This year there were two DLI French classes and three STEM classes in fourth grade. For ease, let’s say that’s a total of 100 kids (it’s probably a little bit higher) moving into fifth grade. If next year the school is only allotted teachers for two DLI and two STEM that means the DLI classes would again have 20 kids but the two STEM classes would each have 30 kids. That can be a lot, especially if there are behavioral issues a teacher has to deal with.

This example could also hold true for other grades and schools as well, depending on the makeup and enrollment.

As parents, we need to give our schools all the information they need, so they can go to bat for smaller class sizes with the district office. This could have a material impact on your child. So, if you haven’t registered, please do so now. Here is a link to the Park City School District’s enrollment page.

Hi, I’m Josh Mann. I created the Park Rag in 2012 to tell stories like these. This year, I am running for Park City School Board. I believe that through open communication, we can build a stronger community. Thanks for stopping by.