I love living in a small town where one can actually meet the leaders of our community. Last Friday, both the Superintendent of the Park City School District, Dr. Ember Conley, and the School Board President, Julie Eihausen, updated a group of Park City REALTORS on the latest plans for our schools.
As a parent of two teenagers who started their Park City education in a local private school, I am a big proponent of public education. I was even on the Board of Trustees for the Park City Education Foundation for several years. There is documented research that living near good public schools can raise home values.
“We think of public education as being free, and we think of the main divide in education between public and private schools,” Jonathan Rothwell, a senior research analyst at Brookings, told The New York Times following a Brookings Institute study. “But it turns out that it’s actually very expensive to enroll your children in a high-scoring public school.” The cost of living in a high-scoring public neighborhood can be higher than paying a private tuition at a school. We have seen this in Park City, where families from the Salt Lake Valley relocate to Park City and pay our higher property prices to enroll their kids in our schools.
As both a parent and a REALTOR, I take a keen interest in Park City’s public schools. If you own or are contemplating owning property in Park City, you should, too.
Park City School Update (Just in Time for Back to School)
In Dr. Conley’s update, she announced that one of our Park City schools will be honored this November as a National “Blue Ribbon” award winner. (She can’t tell us which school and spoil the surprise). This award is presented to schools for academic excellence and closing achievement gaps.
Dr. Conley told our group that the District has recently hired an Assistant Superintendent in Student Wellness. “Safe & Healthy” will be a new program rolled out this school year and a focus of the District. In addition to consistent improvement in the school lunch offerings and better counseling services, there will be a focus this year on increased video surveillance and perimeter control.
Our schools are running out of space. Trailside Elementary School has 2 trailers, there is one at Treasure Mountain Middle School, one at McPolin Elementary School, and one at the District office. REALTORS asked why the schools are still open to out of district students if we are running out of classroom space. Dr. Conley explained that programs, like the dual language immersion, all day Kindergarten and the Pre-K program are creating space issues at our schools. According to Utah State law, schools must remain open to out of district students if a specific grade is below capacity. Right now, the only school closed to out of district students is Jeremy Ranch Elementary School.
The District wants to maintain our schools’ excellence and that is why they have contracted with the University of Utah’s Education and Policy Center to work on updating the Strategic Plan. Community members will be interviewed between August 2017 and March 2018 for input. The District is also working on updating the Master Plan (which is more of a facilities plan) and a District Learning Plan.
The community is encouraged to get involved in these plans and become familiar with our world class education system. There is a lot going on behind the scenes.
As was reported in the Park Record and on KPCW, the District has decided not to put a bond out for vote this year. It seems our community does not have a grasp of the need for the bond and what it will be used for. My suggestion is to take a “Go Pro” camera to Treasure Mountain Middle School in between classes. That building is completely inadequate to serve the needs of our students and is an embarrassment to our community.
There are about 400 students per grade at our schools. More and more families are moving to our community to live here full time and raise their kids here. One of the reasons is our excellent schools. I’m very pleased we have such accessible leaders. You can find out everything you need to know about Park City’s schools (including contact information for Dr. Conley and the School Board) on the district’s website, www.pcschools.us.
Whether or not you live in Park City full time, if you own property here and are a part of our community, you should care about our schools. They have a direct impact on property values.