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Park City School Board… What the Heck Are You Thinking?

One of the charges against the School Board during this year’s bond election was that they were too insular. They didn’t take into account the public’s views and generally pushed through what they wanted from the outset. That was one of the chief problems that led to this year’s failed school bond election. So, it may not be surprising that they are planning on an equally insular action. They are planning on limiting the voices required to make policy decisions.

Currently, for school board policy decisions, all items must be approved by a committee of:

  • The Superintendent
  • Two School-level Administrators
  • The Associate Superintendent or Teaching and Learning
  • The Associate Superintendent of HR
  • The Associate Superintendent of Student Service
  • The Associate Superintendent of Business
  • One or two school board members
  • Two members of the public
  • One licensed staff member
  • One classified staff member

On Tuesday, the school board will vote to change that. Should it pass, the committee required to approve policy changes will be:

  • One or two school board members
  • The Superintendent
  • The Business Administrator
  • District Legal Council (as necessary)

So why does who decides policies matter? Policies are at the heart of what occurs at our schools. Policies encompass everything from bullying to out of district travel. Policies define everything from drug testing to curriculum. In effect, your child’s day to day experience in school is defined by policies.

And what does the school district want to do? They want to limit the voices who are deciding on these policies. No longer is it a broad range of teachers, citizens, and school district personnel deciding on the policies that affect your child. It is 3 people and a lawyer. Crazy.

Generally it is considered that more voices are better. More voices lead to … More input. More discussion. More ideas.

Otherwise you have complete group think. And in this case it is Administrator Group Think. As I think back to my school, can I remember one school administrator’s name? No.

What I do remember are the teachers. Mrs. Ashby taught me how to behave in school during the first grade. Mrs Casselman taught me a love of learning about other cultures when we exchanged letters with kids in Ireland in fourth grade. Mrs Birch taught me a respect for all living thing (as well as science) in fifth grade. Mrs Fornee taught me about music throughout elementary school. Mr Harmon taught me how to think critically by competing in debate. Mr Warkentine taught me to be a man throughout high school, both through Civics and sports. Mrs. Nelson, my Calculus teacher, taught me (and my friends) how to be good humans through example.

Can I name one Superintendent or Business Admin throughout my 18 years of school? No.

Now, I’m sure they provided the budget and came up with the “curriculum” I was taught. However, what do I owe my “life’s experience” to? The teachers I have had. My parents raised me… but my teachers RAISED me.

The fact that teachers and the public will have less say on policy decisions at Park City Schools raises a huge red flag for me.

This is the sort of decision where we need to hear from the school board why they want to do this. Then we need to hear from teachers, PTO members, and parents about the repercussions of this.

I know that the School Board is responsible for making these decisions but in this case it’s not just a simple decision “to let the band go play in Elko.” This has far ranging impacts on every child within our schools.

I hope the school board takes a step back and reconsiders making a hasty decision.

h/t to the multiple people who wrote and suggested this topic.

note: I updated this story, as the original version didn’t have the right tone


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