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We will lose good teachers because Park City School District changed their enrollment policy

For years, Park City teachers, regardless of what zone or district they live in, have been able to bring their own children to attend the elementary school where they teach. Allowing this is really common sense – it makes teachers’ lives much easier (imagine trying to arrange dropping off your kids at another school when you’ve got to be in 30 minutes before class starts during ski season!), and it helps attract top talent from our local community (we’ve got lots of local teachers who aren’t doing it for the money) and outside districts. If you have younger kids in the district, you know very well that many of our most beloved teachers have or have had kids in PC schools.

Then in January, the Park City School District (PCSD) passed changes to policy 10010. In specific, they changed the rules for PCSD teachers. No longer could those teachers depend on the district allowing their children to go to the same school that they teach at (or any Park City school for that matter if they live out of district). Here are the changes (strikethrough and red indicate removal and additions).

By striking through “that have been declared closed to open enrollment,” the district appears to intend not to guarantee a spot at the teacher’s school. By adding, “The exception is not a guarantee of admission to an otherwise closed school…” it drives home the point. They don’t want this to happen.

For those that don’t follow our schools quite as closely, what is a closed school? No, it’s not due to Covid-19. It’s a school where the district has determined there is no more room. It’s an arbitrary number that the district reports to the state. If a school is “open to enrollment,” then children from outside the PCSD area can attend Park City Schools. As stated before, even if a school was closed, generally, teachers could count on their kids attending the same school they teach at. Now, that opportunity seems highly unlikely.

By the way, as of now, all Park City schools are closed to open enrollment. I’m not sure that’ll remain the case. If so, I’m not sure what that means for any teacher who has children entering the district.

Now that the district has decided to revoke that privilege from teachers, citing enrollment, cost concerns, and policy alignment, we are left wondering why. To us at the Park Rag, this doesn’t pass the smell test.

1: Park City schools have slowly trended down in enrollment over the last decade or so. We’re an increasingly rich and retired community, and when a median home costs $1.5 million, there aren’t a lot of families with kids that can afford to live here. Even the district itself predicts declining enrollment going forward. We don’t have a problem with capacity, though the distribution of students between schools may need some tweaks.

Here is a Park Record article on the subject. Here is another.

2: Per pupil funding is minimally affected by allowing out-of-district teachers’ children to attend the school they work at and not affected at all by in-district transfers – the state allocates the same money per child for the school regardless of whether they are a teacher’s kid or live in the district. There’s not a money problem here.

3: According to our sources (teachers and district employees) in-district transfers to ostensibly closed schools have been approved this year – while teachers have been denied. It would be great to let anyone enroll anywhere, but if we’re going to give preferential treatment to any group in enrolling outside of their district or zone, it probably should be teachers.

Given the reality that other districts in Utah are now paying as much as or more than PCSD, and that we can’t hope to recruit the best of the best teachers (especially if they can’t bring their kids…), being able to enroll your kids at your school is a very effective way to attract top talent. It’s also a benefit that has been provided for years that is suddenly being taken away for no apparent reason.

We reached out to the school district for comment. The district responded, “The Open Enrollment Policy at PCSD was updated in January 2021 to ensure that it is aligned to the Code as well as for clarification of the enrollment paperwork process, which remains the same as it has previously, other than asking that employees complete the 1-page enrollment form annually…Adjustments in the language were not intended to adjust/alter educators’ or staff participation in the process or their ability to apply for enrollment. The district and school board see open enrollment as a positive and the policy reads, ‘In order to enhance the district’s ability to attract and retain qualified employees from outside district boundaries, the children of employees who work at least three-quarter time shall be allowed to apply to attend schools within the district.’ District employees are encouraged to submit their Open Enrollment application in the event they are interested in having their children attend a Park City School. The process, parameters or practices related to staff’s open enrollment has not changed meaning – as long as space is available – which has always been the standard practice – students are able to be enrolled within the schools.  Once a student has been enrolled, they matriculate with their grade level and enrollment capacity is reevaluated at times of transition such as K-5, 6-7, 8-9, and then 10-12.” The response in its entirety is at the conclusion of this story.

While this makes it sound like nothing has changed, it feels like it has. We’ve heard from teachers who have been denied enrollment for children at the school they teach at. We’ve seen letters telling teachers to apply to other schools in the district and they may get the children into those schools if the school is open for enrollment. This doesn’t appear to match the process that was in place previously. Finally, if the change was all about getting paperwork in order, why change pieces of the policy to exclude closed schools from teachers?

It doesn’t make sense to someone on the outside. Perhaps the district received a legal recommendation stating that they couldn’t provide these benefits to teachers. Perhaps the district feels they’ll get more out of a teacher if their child isn’t in the same school. Perhaps they are posturing for a bond offering (or something similar) based on the fact that we need to expand schools and they want to be able to say they are doing everything to limit enrollment. Or perhaps they really did just want to clarify the policy and disrupt a bunch of teachers lives.

Any way you slice it, it doesn’t seem like good policy. It is starting to impact teachers as they contemplate next year. Some of our best teachers may decide to go elsewhere because they work at Trailside and can only get their kid into McPolin — or perhaps nowhere in Park City.

The district needs to provide some clear reasoning for this decision backed up with facts, not just hand-waving about money concerns, crowding, or policy. Nothing kills morale like unpopular policy changes made without a clear rationale. If we want great teachers in the future, we need to do right by the ones we have now.

Think this is outrageous? You can make your voice heard by contacting the school board and/or superintendent Gildea here: https://www.pcschools.us/school-board/members/


Response from the School District to a request for a comment:

Open Enrollment is governed through Utah Code and is available state-wide as a practice in Utah:https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53G/Chapter6/53G-6-S402.html?v=C53G-6-S402_2019051420190514
The Open Enrollment Policy at PCSD was updated in January 2021 to ensure that it is aligned to the Code as well as for clarification of the enrollment paperwork process, which remains the same as it has previously, other than asking that employees complete the 1-page enrollment form annually. The enrollment paperwork is helpful in that we then have a record of the number of students who apply from out of boundary or via Intradistrict transfer annually. 


Adjustments in the language were not intended to adjust/alter educators’ or staff participation in the process or their ability to apply for enrollment. The district and school board see open enrollment as a positive and the policy reads, “In order to enhance the district’s ability to attract and retain qualified employees from outside district boundaries, the children of employees who work at least three-quarter time shall be allowed to apply to attend schools within the district.” 


District employees are encouraged to submit their Open Enrollment application in the event they are interested in having their children attend a Park City School. 


The process, parameters or practices related to staff’s open enrollment has not changed meaning – as long as space is available – which has always been the standard practice – students are able to be enrolled within the schools.  Once a student has been enrolled, they matriculate with their grade level and enrollment capacity is reevaluated at times of transition such as K-5, 6-7, 8-9, and then 10-12. 


While staff’s children are enrolled at the school sites, the educator or staff member maintain their professional responsibilities during contract hours meaning – attending meetings, preparing for classes, holding parent conferences, or recording student progress, and their children may enroll in the community education after school programs held at each site or may participate in other activities such as YSA while their parent is working on Friday afternoons.  Those supports remain in place as we move forward as well.  
We will also be piloting a fee-based before care program for working families to provide earlier drop off, breakfast, and supervised care for our community as well as for staff members who may wish to participate in that program. 

Comments

22 Comments

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Walt

Nice timing, PCSD. What was that? You want me to vote for a bond? LOL.

Who’s the genius who came up with this idea?

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Give me a Break

Teachers have never had it “easy” in this district. Our current Superintendent has made it less so. Not all teachers have even personally met Dr. Gildea, let alone had face time with her to discuss issues or problems, or even brainstorming.

Then, you have the Board whose members decided to exclude the public from their meetings unless you want to live stream it (but you can’t connect with them and you can’t see if they’re all even present in the meeting). They wrote they don’t trust people anymore to behave themselves at meetings, which is laughable on its face after their constantly disrespectful behavior to people who have shown up at their meetings. Today, they’re talking about not the current problems facing them, but all about the master plan they expect taxpayers to fun to the polls and willingly fund. LOL

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Park City Schools

We are still allowing teachers to enroll their children in Park City Schools! While the Open Enrollment Policy at PCSD was updated in January to be aligned to Utah’s state-wide Code, the change in wording is simply to make the enrollment process smoother.


PCSD supports open enrollment. The policy reads, “In order to enhance the district’s ability to attract and retain qualified employees from outside district boundaries, the children of employees who work at least three-quarter time shall be allowed to apply to attend schools within the district.” 

The process related to staff’s open enrollment has not changed meaning, as long as space is available. This has always been the standard practice – students are able to be enrolled within the schools. 

If you have further questions, please reach out to .

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Do the right thing

Er, there are an awful lot of teachers who suddenly got their kids rejected this year.

A better answer might be “we will let teachers enroll their kids where they teach, no questions asked, full stop. Even if the school is officially closed.” Stop it with the “this is just to comply with code, everything is fine” crap. It’s not fine, the teachers (I’m married to one) are freaking out.

This is not a ton of kids we’re talking about. It’s not going to overcrowd the schools. But it has a huge effect on staff hiring and morale.

Do the right thing, PCSD. I know of at least 10 teachers whose kids were rejected this year (or told that no decision could be made until August, which is tantamount to the same thing). Get those folks kids in the schools they need to be in. Now.

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Peregrine

This community is nearly impossible for average people to afford. Adding issues of child care and transportation to the list only makes it more likely that we loose great talent. Whatever pcsd is saying they changed does not reflect the experience of many teachers in town. Let teachers keep their kids at the same school.

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Anonymous

Would have been so nice to finish out this crazy year peacefully but no, from this administration we get anti-gay censorship and a sneak attack on teachers’ kids. smdh

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Keep Our Teachers!

Like Peregrine and Do The Right Thing said, Park City Schools is misrepresenting the situation. Lots of elementary teachers have applied to have their kids in kindergarten (and a few older as well) in their same buildings. So far this year ALL of them have been told no, even as other people have jumped the line ahead of them. Some teachers have literally been told you’ve been denied because you work in that building. That doesn’t seem like it’s about numbers

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PCSD, what are your priorities??

Misrepresenting is correct. The truth is, Gildea has an issue with teachers being in the same building as their own children. But instead of admitting that, she hides behind policy and lies to try to separate them. Why not just say the truth, and then ask the community what they value? Or, give us some data that proves that moms and kids should be separated. Oh wait, there isn’t any. Making the life of a working mom logistically easier while costing the district nothing, is just “not professional” enough. If that is the case, why do major companies like Adobe and Fidelity have daycares located on site? They value families and will help make parenting a little easier. In exchange they get the highly efficient and talented women on the team–when they may have opted to stay home. That is called smart leadership.

Gildea, please re-evaluate your priorities and get curious about your own personal hangups. PCSD has a lot to work on. Parents and children in the same building isn’t one of them. Separating moms and kids isn’t helpful to the community’s children. Please, focus energies elsewhere, and just tell the truth.

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Parkrag

Sorry for the late approval on this. I didn’t see there were additional comments until this morning.

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James

Way to write an inflammatory article about nothing Park Rag.

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Denise

Oh hey James (Caplan), why weren’t you at the board meeting last night?

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Pettymore C.

“In order to enhance the district’s ability to attract and retain qualified employees from outside district boundaries, the children of employees who work at least three-quarter time shall be allowed to APPLY to attend schools within the district.”

APPLY. APPLY. The children of employees will be ALLOWED to APPLY. They will be, REJECTED in many cases, based on EXPERIENCE. But PCSD employees should be so grateful that they were allowed to APPLY?

PCSD is fooling no one. Dr. Gildea and Board members talk out of both sides of their mouths. It’s no big deal to them to put teachers and students last. They’ll protest that statement, but it’s the truth. They hide behind form letter-type responses and do their business increasingly without input from others. Meanwhile, Dr. Gildea’s collective salary and extensive benefits approaches $1M in the short time she’s been here.

They should be working on how to be better people and be inclusive in their public business instead of licking their lips at how they’re going to spend all that bond money they want from from taxpayers this Fall. We won’t have a school district if our employees and the people who pay their salaries continue to be alienated.

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Walt

We should be hiring supers from within, not doing these ridiculous nationwide searches as if we’re hiring a CEO.

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Anonymous

Dr. Gildea gets paid a lot of money and I bet most people in the community have NEVER heard her voice or met her.

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Walt

It wouldn’t be a bad idea for her to do “coffee with the super” or something similar. The magic rock incident did some serious damage to her reputation, you’d think they’d try to fix that.

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Brent

My wife is a teacher in Park City and we live in PC, but the rise in real estate has priced us out of our rental. Now we’re moving to a bedroom community of PC and this policy has us freaked out. If our kids can’t attend PC schools, we won’t be able to handle it logistically …and the “maybe you’ll be accepted / maybe you won’t” unpredictability of it causes major stress. Still hoping / planning on having our children attend PC schools, stay with their friends, and stay on track academically. But the lack of surety throws out any/all predictability, particularly because there are so many school transitions in PC (grade school –> middle –> Jr high –> high school), each of which presents risk to our family. Super disappointed in this policy and hoping it gets reversed.

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A Teacher

A great teacher we have known for 16 years is resigning because of Policy 10010. Her child was denied enrollment in PCSD for the first time. She is going to another district.

Another teacher was told her daughter could attend the elementary school she works in, but her son has to go to a different elementary school.

Mr. Caplan told another teacher whose chid was denied enrollment to appeal to Jill Gildea and Lorie Pearce and he would make sure her child got in, but teachers want the same treatment across the board, not special exceptions.

This policy change is real and punitive.

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Anonymous

I know a few who have appealed. They got mocked by Gildea and their denials aren’t going anywhere. Guess they’re not Andrew’s favorites

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Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

Did anyone listen to KPCW’s Local News Hour last Wednesday?
https://www.kpcw.org/post/local-news-hour-may-19-2021
Erin Grady and Dr. Gildea were untruthful about the enrollment policy change (policy 10010) and the public not being allowed to participate in board meetings (violating policy 2025, VI.A.2.).
These are crazy times. Why the deception and evasion? Is this why Dr. Gildea has had five superintendent jobs each lasting from a year to seven years only?

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Ophelia

Thank you Park Rag for speaking out for those of us who cannot raise our voices without fear of retribution.

There are between 40-50 teachers with a maximum of 70-100 children district-wide who have been negatively impacted by this policy and enforcement change. Some single moms…Teachers are hurting from this, badly. Many found out during teacher appreciation week. It felt like a stab in the back after all we have endured putting our lives and those of our families on the line during this pandemic.

Most school administrators did not stand up for us, and those that did were threatened. Just like everyone else who raises issue with a District Office that is out of touch with the community and which cultivates a culture of fear.

This issue, the pride flags, the closed board meetings, and the constant lies coming from district officials hurts not only teachers and district employees, but the entire community. We need the new construction on our schools, but with decisions like these being made by the D.O. I find it hard to believe the community will support a massive bond.

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

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Denise

To clarify per Utah State code 53G-6-402, point 3) a local school board may allow enrollment of nonresident students in a school that is operating above the open enrollment threshold. This needs to emphasized as this is the reasonable option. However, I would imagine the district will try to counter with point 1 citing “to the extent reasonably feasible”. The alternative that has been offered (not much of an offer) is NOT reasonable, nor reasonably feasible. This issue is straightforward. Allow our teachers to enroll their students as they should be!!!

https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53G/Chapter6/53G-6-S402.html?v=C53G-6-S402_2019051420190514

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Anonymous

It has not yet been mentioned that PCSD is not only discriminating against teachers who cannot afford to live in the district, but those same teachers who have kids with special needs have an even slimmer chance of being accepted.
One PCSD teacher’s child had his inter-district transfer revoked mid year due to the expense of his services. They cited “exigent circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Fortunately, when they were pressed legally, the district reinstated him.
This teacher is in constant fear that the rug will be pulled out from under her again!


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