The Park City School Board provided the Park Rag with a list of their frequently asked questions and answers. I think the board feels there is a disconnect between what they believe they are trying to accomplish given constraints and what others believe they are trying to accomplish. I believe they hope by providing enough information they can help people understand where they are coming from.
If you haven’t seen this FAQ in other places, I would recommend reading it:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: PCSD PROPOSTION 1
Why do we need a bond for our schools?
The proposed bond will provide our growing school district with much-needed remodeled schools, new facilities and important athletic and performing arts space to ensure our students receive the education they deserve. Proposition 1 is designed to:
• Fund essential school needs for our growing district, with more than 80 percent of the funding going directly to much-needed classroom space.
• Fund important safety modernizations to our schools and improve traffic flow around our school buildings.
• Ensure students have the academic, performing arts and athletic facilities they need to become well-rounded adults.
• Be a cost-effective investment in students and their education, and allows the district to responsibly plan for the future.
What was the process followed by the Board of Education in weighing the input of the community and the Master Planning Committee recommendation?
The Park City School District (PCSD) curated an expert steering committee to study facilities needs, future growth potential and best practices in educational trends. The group included teachers, parents, Administrators and board members. This Committee began work in the fall of 2014 and were instructed to engage community at every opportunity. The steering committee delivered a recommendation to the board in August of 2015. More than 400 people attended and added important input at more than 30 community meetings. For 5 months (March-July 2015) 3 workshops, 5 community forums, 2 Town Hall meetings were held to collect input on working plans. In addition a third party community survey queried 500 PCSD residents to understand values and priorities. Finally, the district had feedback and recommendations from city, county, UDOT and recreation experts. These meetings represent more that 1100 (wo)man hours on how best to meet the needs of Park City students. Board members attended all of these sessions to deeply understand ideas considered. Inclusion of community feedback resulted in numerous working plans. The board reviewed the community input and the committee recommendation. Options were vetted through the application of best practice standards and choices that were fiscally responsible. The Master Planning Committee recommended expanding and remodeling the high school to accommodate the 9th graders and updating the athletics and performing arts which were not finished in the last remodel, building a 5th and 6th on the Ecker campus, budgeting for student safety and expanding at McPolin, and tearing down Treasure Mountain Junior High. Two options on the high school expansion were presented – to the south and to the west. The Board accepted all the elements and determined the west was the better option. The elementary school numbers do not show the need to add classrooms at McPolin yet, but it is being set up as the next school to be expanded when needed. Finally, the board concluded the urgency for indoor practice and multipurpose space of a field house were important student needs to address. Accordingly we adopted the prioritized project list and associated costs that are part of the bond referendum.
What are the projects included in Proposition 1 on the November 3, 2015 ballot?
Park City High School Expansion and Remodel $27,500,000
New 5th and 6th Grade School at Ecker Campus $24,800,000
McPolin Student Safety Improvements $1,400,000
Treasure Mountain Junior High Demolition $606,336
Athletic Facilities $12,000,000
What will be included at the new 5th and 6th Grade School at Ecker Campus?
A 5th and 6th grade elementary will be a vibrant intermediate school for students where middle years educational experiences are begun while having all the supports these older elementary students require. This will be a learning environment that utilizes traditional classrooms along with project-based learning spaces that are more typical in secondary schools. These new spaces along with occasional exposure to the older students located on the same campus will ease student transition to secondary programs. Studies have shown that by decreasing the number of student transitions to a new school results in decreasing the high school dropout rate. Spending four years on the Ecker Campus, in the two schools co-located there our students will have one less campus transition. Locating the new school on the Ecker Campus gives us the ability to design the elementary school to have some shared space – i.e. auditorium, performing arts, athletics, front office and food service. In this way we can utilize the best of what already exists at Ecker Middle school without duplicating effort. In addition, Ecker Middle School was initially designed as a secondary school. By having the 7th and 8th graders together PCSD early secondary students have the appropriately designed space and secondary licensed educators serving their academic needs. Finally, building a new elementary is a lower cost alternative to duplicating a secondary school.
What are the student safety improvements at McPolin?
The parking, parent drop off and bus areas need to be reconfigured. McPolin has always had student safety issues, so when we are designing the athletic field complex, there is an opportunity to improve the traffic flow at McPolin while providing roads and parking to support the stadium and field house. We are working with the city and traffic experts with the design. Additionally, when we need additional elementary capacity, classrooms will be added to McPolin to accommodate for student population growth.
Why is the district demolishing Treasure Mountain Junior High School?
This school facility has reached the end of its useful life. We have conducted three cost estimates on this building and the cost to remodel, repair failing systems and address new building standards is in excess of $20 million. The HVAC system and pipes are failing. The roof does not meet updated snow load code standards and the building needs to be retrofitted to meet earthquake standards. Additionally, the lighting is poor and the student flow in the building is unacceptable. Rebuilding a secondary school is not a viable option when Ecker Middle school is available and has the capacity for 7th and 8th grades.
What work will be done as part of the Park City High School expansion and remodel?
As part of the district’s grade realignment, the 9th graders are being moved back into the high school. Currently, there are more than 1,100 high school students. When the freshman move back, the population at PCHS will be over 1,500. There are not enough classrooms or auxiliary space to accommodate a student body of this size. Two new wings will provide the additional classroom space as well as provide room for growth. The athletic and performing arts areas were not expanded in the 2008 remodel of the high school. Neither of the two gyms is large enough to accommodate the crowd at a varsity basketball game or any other large event. The performing arts have grown substantially in the last 10 years – the orchestra and band programs have doubled in size as well as the addition of percussion and marching bands. Expensive athletic equipment and instruments are stored unsecured in hallways, music practice rooms, on the gym floor and in stairwells. The current facilities for athletics and performing arts do not meet the best practices of Utah high schools.
Why expand west vs. south?
Western expansion creates better student flow inside the building and there is less construction disruption during the school year. It allows for additional expansion in the future if the population continues to grow. It creates an athletic complex on the east side of the Kearns campus creating generating cost savings by consolidating locker rooms, training areas, officials and coaches offices, and equipment storage. We need these facilities at Dozier, if we don’t move the stadium we need to replicate these facilities at the field house. Additionally, parking improves on the Kearns campus with the expansion to the west. There is already limited parking at Dozier, expanding to the south would remove parking near the stadium creating more parking impact on neighborhood streets in Park Meadows along Lucky John. The western expansion adds necessary parking and spreads it out from the western to the eastern end of campus. There is also a parking lot near the athletic complex that can accommodate large events.
What work will be done to the athletic facilities?
In a survey conducted to determine public support of a bond, sports and extracurricular activities were ranked second highest in terms of what improvements need to be made. We have also been hearing from our students, parent and staff that our facilities are not up to par and do not support the needs of our student athletes. After touring neighboring districts and those with indoor field house capabilities, it became apparent our facilities need an upgrade to current standards.
How much money has been put into Dozier Field?
In the last 10 years, $1.9 million has been invested in Dozier Field. The current stadium seats less than 2000 and additional bleachers will need to be added with a larger student body. To bring Dozier up to best practices of similar high schools, $2.5 to $3 million of renovations are required – locker and team rooms, official and coaches offices, restrooms, concessions, and storage. The turf is from 2006 has a 10-year life so will be replaced in a year at a cost of $600,000.
Why not keep Dozier where it is and put a locker room underneath?
Dozier Field needs improvements to provide adequate use for our students. Adding a small, inefficient area under the bleachers is a “Band-Aid” approach. The Board of Education is interested in long term solutions that use our funding wisely. Multi-use facilities can accommodate our diverse athletic needs, from soccer, to cheer, to tennis. In a pre-bond telephone survey, data showed that athletic facilities were the number two desire from our community, second only to teacher compensation.
How will the Kearns Campus plan impact traffic?
The main traffic impact is moving approximately 20% of the student population from the Kearns campus to the Ecker campus. As we move into a construction phase, the district will consider a combination of internal solutions and partnering with city and county resources to mitigate impact on both campuses.
What is being done to mitigate traffic on the Kearns and Ecker campuses?
As we begin the design phase of the project, we will include the city and county in the planning process. The City Traffic Manager will be on the PCHS Design Team and the County Traffic Manager on the Ecker Design Team.
Why are we financing these school projects with a bond vs. increasing the capital tax levy?
The school district has been fiscally responsible and we paid off the last of our debt obligation in February 2015. We have $19 million in our capital account. We are in an excellent position to borrow money at historically low rates. The cost to taxpayers is significantly lower by paying over 20 years instead of trying to finance through a tax increase. Comparatively, even after the impact of the bond, PCSD school-related taxes are lower in absolute dollars than they were 10 years ago. Additionally, the average district in the state of Utah pays school-related taxes at a 47% higher tax rate than PCSD taxpayers.
Why are we building schools now?
The timing is driven by the pure need to accommodate our growing student population. We have reached capacity in five of seven schools, having experienced a 4% annual growth rate over the last 3 years and forecasting 1-2% growth over the next five years. Since 2006, our student population has grown by about 600 kids. We have been focusing on programmatic needs and technology enhancements for the last 10 years; this plan lets us catch up on facilities with a Master Plan that looks out five to 10 years. Construction costs have been increasing at 15% a year, the longer we wait, the more expensive it becomes.
Why are we realigning the grades?
We need to add classroom space for our students throughout the district. Proposition 1 adds an elementary school, but that only solves part of the problem and leaves too much open space that can potentially be filled by out-of-district students. When we asked the community for feedback, we were told by parents, staff and students that they want the 9th graders back in the high school. This is also a state-wide trend. In addition, the current configuration of 6th and 7th in the same school is difficult from a programming and staffing perspective because 6th is an elementary grade, while 7th is a secondary grade.Finally, to close the achievement gap, the district has committed to make all-day kindergarten district-wide in 2016-17. Realigning the grades resolves all these issues while creating the space and facilities to accommodate our changing programming needs.
When are we realigning the grades?
In fall of 2016, PCSD will offer all-day Kindergarten in all four elementary schools. The rest of the realignment will commence in fall of 2017 when all our buildings are completed and we’ve had adequate time to plan for programming changes.
Elementary Schools: PreK-4
Ecker Campus: New 5/6 elementary along with 7/8 in existing Ecker School
High School: 9-12
What is the 2015 Master Plan?
The 2015 District Master Plan lays out school facilities expansion plans that support the district’s vision of innovation and excellence in education. It meets the whole child needs of our students, both academically and athletically. The plan includes: expanding and finishing the back of the high school, building a new 5th and 6th grade school to accommodate the academic needs of a growing student population, moving Dozier field and upgrading other athletic facilities and taking down the current Treasure Mountain Junior High facility that has reached the end of its useful life. The new and expanded facilities reflect our grade realignment plans and programming requirements with the goal of supporting our students’ academic needs. The campuses on Kearns Avenue and Kilby Road will benefit from neighborhood-friendly traffic enhancements. The plan balances facility needs and fiscal responsibility.
Why don’t you expand all four of the elementary schools to be preK-6? Isn’t it best for students to remain in their community schools?
While data shows the fewer transitions for students does yields the best results, it is not in the best interest of our district – and students – to expand all four of our elementary schools to house preK-6th grades. The PCSD is a district defined by our community’s boundaries. We want to fully maximize our resources (dollars, teachers, programs), and we want to do this with our community united, within the PCSD community boundaries. If the district expanded all of the elementary schools to house preK-6, that would increase elementary site enrollment to 700+ students, which is much larger than our current smaller community schools. It would require immediate intra-district boundary changes and all buildings would need to be expanded. In addition, it would require more administration at the elementary schools. As the programming is developed for the 5/6 school, the focus will be to increase student engagement and preparation through problem based learning. In addition, music and art will be enhanced in the 5/6 school, along with addressing the elementary dual language model.
Why do we need a Field House?
The majority of students in our high school are involved in extracurricular activities. Students participating in sports or performing arts have higher grade point averages, lower dropout rates and it decreases their probability of engaging in risky behaviors. With more than 60% of our high school students involved in athletics and more than 2000 of all PCSD students participating in a sport, it’s important to make sure these students have access to facilities. PCSD does not have indoor field practice areas. We need the ability to accommodate additional PE classes when 9th graders move back into the high school. Dozier field is over scheduled to attempt to accommodate demand by our sports teams, meaning teams kids are practicing until as late as 9:30 PM. Further, there is limited access to the only local field house (8 hours/week in season) which requires teams to travel to find practice space out of the area. This is a detriment to our kids and families. The unintended consequences of not providing such space means teams are paying exorbitant rental use fees per team for practice time. Finding practice space requires many athletes to commute to Salt Lake (and beyond) which negatively impacts time to focus on academics. Neighboring districts – some considerably smaller in student enrollments, that have field house facilities report utilizing the space from early morning through 7PM. Further, the variety of programming the space offers not only meets the student athletes but provides PE space for all students, assembly and dance opportunities and a student testing location. When asked, our community ranked sports and extracurricular activities as the second highest priority for PCSD to support.
What has the process been to determine the bond package and our district’s facility needs?
The district wanted to make sure parents, staff, students and community members have had time to review and weigh in on how we proceed with ensuring our students have the space they need in our school buildings. The Master Planning Committee was revamped in August 2014 and began meeting in October 2014. Membership was expanded to include staff, high school administration, the Activities Director as well as two community members Sean Morgan and Rory Murphy, who have extensive planning, development and construction experience. It was a high priority of the committee to be transparent and to have workshops/town halls to update the community and gather input. Meetings have been open to the public and media throughout the process. Meetings were held every other week until January 2015 and then were weekly. In addition to meeting weekly, the co-chairs along with district personnel were on selection committees for the planner, communications and bond counsel. District staff and the co-chairs often met to prepare the agenda and supporting information for the weekly meetings. Issues were explored and discussed in detail; experts were brought in throughout the process – city, county, recreation, traffic. Borders, realignment, building permits, birth rate statistics, best practices for programming, all day K and other issues were all discussed in detail until a consensus could be reached so we could plan the facilities to support our Learning Plan requirements. Overall, more than 400 people attended and added important input at 30+ community meetings during the process.
Why aren’t we building a middle school on the Kearns campus so we have one at the junction and one in-town?
In 2005 PCSD moved away from the two middle school model. Staff, administration and parents who have been in the district for many years all agree the current model is much better. When there were two middle schools there was an unhealthy competition between the two schools and a perceived difference in the schools. It is difficult to duplicate equitable programming in two schools. By putting 7/8 at Ecker and 5/6 in a new school on the same campus, we have the opportunity to create programs and class schedules that are best suited for the middle school years. The fewer transitions a student has in their K 12 years, the lower the dropout rate – we are removing one transition by creating a middle school campus. Finally, the middle school years are the most challenging years socially for most kids this is when friendship groups are formed that continue through high school. Students have told us that they wouldn’t want to wait until freshman year before meeting the other half of the district’s students.
How much does the bond cost?
The total price tag is mostly driven by school capacity needs. The total project cost is approximately $66.3 million. We will finance the projects with $10.3 million from the current capital account. The $56 million of financing will cost taxpayers $123.22 per year or $10.27 month for a $639,000 primary home.
When is the election and where do I vote?
Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015. Early voting is available. You can vote at the following polling locations:
October 20-23, 2015 Marsac or Sheldon Richins Bldg. 12pm-5pm
October 26-30, 2015 Marsac or Sheldon Richins Bldg 12pm-5pm
November 3, 2015 Marsac, Park City High School, St. Luke’s, Trailside Admin Bldg, Ecker Hill School 7:00am-8:00pm
Park City School Board