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Thank you Park City School Board Member Petra Butler for trying

We were watching the Park City School District Board meeting online (good job PCSD on allowing people watch via video), and noticed a comment by new School Board member Petra Butler.

Ms Butler said, as the chairperson tried to move on from public comment, “I’ve heard from the community on the time limit on public comment and I wondered if we could do something about not imposing a time limit on what people want to say.”

At beginning of each public comment session, the school board reads a statement that says that comments should not be made about specific people and they should be limited to 3 minutes. Having watched many board meetings, sometimes the board enforces the 3 minute rule when the topic is controversial and otherwise will ignore it when it is a “friendly” topic.

When challenged by other board members on today’s public comment, Ms Butler said that the previous group had spoken for almost 10 minutes and rules said the limit was 3 minutes.

It appeared she wondered why all rules were not enforced universally.

Then Ms Butler’s concerns were dismissed, into the ether.

Not good.

The Park Rag has had an issue with the way the School Board handles public comment for a while. On our first visit to the School Board, public comment was made.We envisioned something similar to Aristotle-like discourse on the question brought from the public. Instead, nothing was said by the board. The person, who had spent hours crafting their comment, was delivered absolute silence by the board. The citizen just quietly walked away.

He won’t be back.

Yesterday, community member Jim Tedford provided public comment on the grade school realignment process to the school board.  He asked one simple question… “Is there going to be an opportunity for the community to be involved in the [grade school] realignment?”

The answer was “Thank you Jim.”

Really? A citizen took their time to think about an issue. He found out when the next school board meeting was. Then he drove to school board at the prescribed time. Then he had the courage to stand up and say what he thought. Then he asked a reasonable question.

And all the school board would say is “thanks”?

If you ever go to a Summit County Council or Park City Council meeting and ask a question, it will get answered immediately. You may not like what you hear, but there WILL be a response to the question.

If the Park City School District fancies itself as the top district in the country, it begins with the school board. Then there is discussion. It continues with discourse. It ends with decision…based upon both popular and unpopular ideas.

A three year old could say “thank you.” A school board should engage in thought-provoking discussion.

As we’ve watched the school board over the past few years, we’ve often wondered whether they hold themselves to the same standards that our teachers hold our students to.

Some days they impress. Some days they don’t.

Ms Butler’s actions impressed.

We just wish there were more Ms Butlers.





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