How can Park City School District attract and retain quality teachers and support staff such as paraprofessionals, custodians, and bus drivers?
In brief, competitive pay and a positive and supportive work environment. We're fortunate to live in such a special town, but Park City's challenges with affordable housing and childcare are well known and inescapable. Teachers and other staff must be able to afford to live a viable commute from our schools, and for those who are parents they must have access to childcare and schools a viable distance from their home and workplace.
The closure of the PCSD Child Care Center was a tragedy for exactly this reason. More broadly, we must create a supportive environment for staff. They must be free to raise concerns without fear of retribution, and their input must be respected. It's important to recognize, too, that we live in uniquely challenging times for school staff, particularly teachers, who must be supported to do the jobs they have trained for without unnecessary interference.
Park City School District recently began construction projects without the required state, county, and municipal permits. What actions would you support as a board member to ensure that district construction projects begin and proceed with appropriate approvals?
As a project manager I believe in the value of conducting retrospectives to gather lessons learned at the appropriate point, and ensuring those lessons are shared with all relevant stakeholders to build an improved process going forward. My concern here is that the whole sorry episode with the construction permits betrayed a much wider disregard for legitimate rules and process.
Of course, we all make mistakes, but when that happens we must acknowledge them and take action to ensure the same mistake doesn't happen again. Instead, the District initially argued about whether they needed the permits at all and then dismissed it as inconsequential. I believe there must be demonstrated accountability for whoever approved work without the requisite permits, but more importantly there must be a full review and accounting of what went wrong so we can put in place safeguards to prevent similar happening in future.
How do you propose to provide an equitable education to a diverse student population? In other words, how might you better assist underserved students and their parents?
First, I think it’s important to acknowledge the good work the Park City Education Foundation does in this space, but the District can do much more to directly support diverse populations. A demonstrated commitment to addressing this must include appropriate staffing to provide needed teacher support in classrooms (interventionists and aides), and representation both in the classrooms and in the district administration. That means placing DEI at the center of hiring efforts. The DEI Task Force should have been a good start in this direction, but its work was not sufficiently supported. Their recommendations included a full-time Chief DEI Officer reporting into the board. That would be an excellent step if the District is to be serious about its DEI efforts.
Do you think that collaboration with and transparency toward Park City School education stakeholders are important values for Park City School District board members? If not, why not? If so, how would you work to support these values?
I believe this is absolutely vital. We've sadly seen a board that has become increasingly insular and even hostile to stakeholders. That's both ethically troubling and practically unfortunate. We are very lucky to have stakeholders who have a deep passion for this School District. We need to find ways of embracing and harnessing that energy for positive change in the District. I believe that starts with a fundamental change in the attitude to public comment at monthly board meetings, but beyond that we need to make it much easier for stakeholders to communicate with the board. For example, use technology to set up new channels for communication, host regular open meetings for stakeholders to talk freely and informally with board members, and a formal stakeholder council with a representative invited to board meetings. These would all be great steps in the right direction.
Why are you running for the School Board? What experience, expertise, and insights would you bring to the Board?
I'm a project management professional with over 20 years of experience working collaboratively with diverse groups of stakeholders to meet expectations and achieve success in organizations large and small. I hold a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of Colorado Boulder. I'm running for the School Board because I believe in its potential, both for children like my own son - a third grader at PPES - and for the wider community. The strength of our School District impacts much more than just students and their immediate families. Students must be at the core, of course, but schools are funded through property taxes, students live in this town with us, good schools support property values and build a thriving community, and so on. The School Board is at the center of driving all that in a positive direction and I believe my experience and expertise will be hugely beneficial in that.