Jeremy Ranch Elementary Recognized as a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School

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Jeremy Ranch Elementary has been recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2017, the first school in Park City School District to receive the award.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the recognition this morning, Sept. 28, via a live-stream on the U.S. Department of Education’s website. The award signifies exemplary teaching and learning and affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.

Principal Shawn Kuennen, who has been principal at Jeremy Ranch Elementary since 2008, is proud to lead the high-performing school. “This is a tremendous honor for Jeremy Ranch Elementary to be recognized as a Blue Ribbon School. The credit for this distinction is wide-ranging, but can be summarized by high levels of collaboration,” said Kuennen. “Our teachers, of course, are masters of collaboration, as they strive to meet the needs of all students. But more than that, we have collaboration throughout the school and the neighborhood. Our PTO, our office staff, our kitchen staff, counselors, custodians, bus drivers, and district office staff all work together for the benefit of our students. And our students work hard every day.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, recognizes two outstanding public and non-public schools in each state. The program celebrates school excellence, turn around stories, and closing subgroup achievement gaps. The Chief State School Officer in each state nominates public schools.

Kuennen credits the faculty and staff for the honor because it has long functioned as a team that “lifts and supports each other while also providing unique and high-quality educational opportunities which benefit our students on a daily basis.”

The teaming structure is not new to the faculty. Three years ago the school formalized its teaming process by adopting and implementing the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model. “We continue to incorporate and refine our PLC practices into daily school operations.  As such, we identify ways to share the many responsibilities our teachers juggle, while also creating individualized learning opportunities that meet all students at their place of academic need,” Kuennen said. “The faculty strives to provide experiences with the whole child in mind.”

The school’s character education highlights the core traits of Honesty, Caring, Respect, and Responsibility, and endeavor to recognize students for what they do well. Students are also provided with opportunities in Music, Physical Education, Computational Thinking/Coding, Healthy Lifestyles, and Library Media on a schedule that rotates each day.

Jeremy Ranch Elementary is a French dual-immersion school, where students spend 50 percent of the day in a French-speaking classroom. Those not in immersion, are educated in a more traditional classroom model with the added component of STEM instruction twice weekly.

Another hallmark of the school is its Masterpieces In Art (MIA) program, which is a hands-on, self-sustaining, parent-run, monthly experience in art for all students. The PTO has also been the conduit to provide students with opportunities to participate in a massive Science Fair, made all the more authentic with the use of community scientists volunteering their time to judge student projects.

Kuennen shares the honor with the school’s engaged Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) has developed and nurtured a culture of support for our teachers and students in numerous ways over the years.

The school’s PTO runs the largest Scholastic book fair in the state of Utah, twice each year, and funnels the proceeds into each classroom. The PTO also provides grants to teachers who need funding for their innovative ideas.

The school will be honored at an awards ceremony Nov. 6-7 in Washington, D.C.



Agenda for Strategic Planning Community Meeting on Oct. 2

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Strategic Planning Community Meeting

Oct. 2 | 6-8 p.m. | Blair Education Center, Park City Hospital

Who:  Community, Staff, Parents, and Students who are ready to be part of the positive movement forward

What:  To decide the values of the district that will update the 2010 Strategic Plan for 2018-2023, to define the most critical anchors that will guide the district’s work for the next 5 years.

When:  October 2, 2017; 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Where: Blair Education Center, Classroom A/B at Park City Hospital, 900 Round Valley Road, Park City

Why:  To determine the mission, vision, and values that will guide the district for next 5 years

6:00 PM


-Norms for Meeting

-Review Agenda

-Review Process and Timeline to Update Mission, Vision, and Values:

-Interactive Feedback Protocol

-Define and Determine Values!

7:45 PM

-Check Out

-Next Steps

8:00 PM


Dates and Locations for Next Strategic Group Meetings

  • October 16, 4:30 – 7:30 PM, Park City School District Office, Board Room
    • Finalize Vision and Start Mission
  • November 5, 4:30 – 7:30 PM, Park City School District Office, Board Room
    • Finish Mission and Define Goals
  • December 19, 4:00 PM, Board Adopts Mission, Vision, Values at Regular Session Board meeting
    • Board Adopts Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals

Dates for Strategic Planning Implementation

  • January – July 2018
    • PCSD Administration Updates District Learning Plan (Implementation Plan for Strategic Plan)
    • Finalize Master Planning (Facilities Plan) for 2018-2025
      • January – June 2018 – Details Shared with Community at Large
      • July 2018 – Bond Language Adopted Pending Master Planning Completion
      • November 2018 – Bond Election Pending Master Planning Completion

Questions or Additional Feedback?

* If you were unable to attend the first meeting, join us at the second or third! No invitation necessary.

Ecker Hill offers homework after-school programs


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Ecker Hill Middle School offers after-school homework help so students can strengthen what they learn in class and develop good study habits and strategies.

The Homework Club drop-in is a program where you can go everyday or drop-in when you need it. Some students just need the time to finish up something before they go home. Other students find it easier to establish a routine to get their work done and are free the rest of the day.

The club is split into two half-hour blocks. The first half  hour begins in the Library. If a student gets caught up on homework they can go to the Wolves Zone in the gym for the second half hour.

Principal Tracy Evans reminds parents it is a safe, supervised time for students to complete their homework before leaving school. The club is offered Monday through Thursday from 3:45-5 p.m.

The benefits of the Homework Club include:

-Ask questions and receive additional help from teachers;

-Strengthen what they have learned in class;

-Develop good study habits and strategies;

-Organize their time so they you can participate in after school activities; and

-Have fun free time with friends in the Wolves Zone.

Homework Club Drop-in Schedule

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
3:45-4:15 Homework (Library) Homework (Library) Homework (Library) Homework (Library)
4:15-4:25 Break w/ snack Break w/ snack Break w/ snack Break w/ snack
4:25-5:00 If homework (HW) is finished

Wolves Zone (Gym)

If HW is finished

Wolves Zone (Gym)

If HW is finished

Wolves Zone (Gym)

If HW is finished

Wolves Zone (Gym)

Ecker Hill also offers a Homework Lab very similar to the Homework Club; however, this program is for students who have been required by teachers to attend in order to improve their grades. Students are required to attend Homework Lab every day and teachers are updated about student participation weekly. This program provides students with individualized tutoring in their classes and assists them in keeping up with their homework. Teachers, staff, peer tutors, and parent volunteers teach the Homework Lab, open Monday through Thursday.

TMJH student tech leaders taking social media challenge


Student tech leaders at Treasure Mountain Junior High realize they are addicted to their cell phones. Their solution: go without social media for one week. Sam Thompson, technology instruction coach, is also taking the challenge.

Starting tonight at midnight and running until 9 a.m. Oct. 4,  the students will only be using their phones to call and send texts (with no pictures:) “I realize it’s not feasible to completely remove these devices from our lives,” said Thompson.

During the challenge the students can only use their phones for the following:

phone calls, text messaging (no pictures, only text), an alarm clock (most indicated that’s a big use), and Facetime.

The students have already sent out messages on their various social media channels announcing they will be “offline” for a week.

“While this is not required, I strongly encourage the students to try this challenge,” Thompson said. “My hope is that it will provide some great insight as to the good and bad of tech use.”

The faculty and staff at TMJH were also invited to join the students in the challenge and share their thoughts on how it has affected them.

The Student Tech Club was given seed money by the Park City Education Foundation to fund its first two years, and is now in its third year.

Parents of students with disabilities invited to Lunch and Learns

Lunch-Learn2The district is hosting four Lunch & Learns this schools year for parents who have students with disabilities — this includes a student with an IEP or a Section 504 accommodation plan.

All Lunch & Learns are from noon to 1 p.m. at the District Office. Parents are invited to bring their lunch and listen to the discussion.

Lunch and Learn Schedule for 2017-18

Oct. 10: Learning Ally: Reading/audio material resource and ACT accommodations (NOTE: Learning Ally was piloted at Parley’s Park Elementary in 2015-16 with seed money from the Park City Education Foundation). 

Dec. 12: Social Skills and conflict resolution, and coercion cycle

Feb. 13: Building bridges between school and home, supporting behavior goals between school/home, and homework help at home.

April 17: Supporting students with anxiety

SAGE scores don’t paint accurate picture of the success of PCSD schools

The Utah State Board of Education released the 2016-17 Accountability Reports for local school districts this afternoon, Sept. 25. The report’s findings are based on scores from the SAGE test (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence). Required by Utah law, the end-of-level test is given to students in language arts, mathematics and science. Data from student scores are used to calculate school grading reports in accordance with Utah law.

Because Park City School District has the highest opt-out rate in the state, the district does not use SAGE as a measure of student learning beyond fifth grade. Utah law allows parents to opt their students out of SAGE. PCSD’s overall opt-out rate in 2017 was 21%.

Park City High School has the highest opt-out rate of 47% compared to 38% the previous year.  At Treasure Mountain Junior High the 2017 opt-out rate was 26% (an increase of 2% from the previous year), and at Ecker Hill Middle School the opt out rate in 2017 was 26% (an increase of 8% from the previous year). The opt-out rates at the elementary schools were relatively unchanged from year to year (anywhere from a 2-6% opt-out rates in 2017).

District officials caution parents about putting too much emphasis on the state school grading reports. The SAGE is only one measure of student performance, and since so many students in PCSD opt-out from the test, the report is skewed.

One of the district’s best indicators of student success is its 97% graduation rate, by far the highest in the state, and one of the best rates in the nation. PCSD’s elementary schools are award-winning. Park City students out-perform the state average on Advanced Placement tests, the ACT, and graduation rate. Students performance on SAGE is not an accurate picture of how our students achieve.

PCSD uses Galileo K-12 Online Instructional Improvement and Instructional Effectiveness System, a comprehensive, standards-based, and research supported assessment that tests students at the beginning of the year, mid-year, and the end of year.  Galileo tests are required for all students in PCSD. Unlike SAGE, Galileo technology offers teachers rapid and flexible access which in turn drives student learning throughout the year. Additionally, 8th grade math as measured by Galileo has improved from 53% in 2015, and to 72% in 2017.  See the measurable goals set by the district to see the comparison of Galileo and SAGE.

As the opt-out rate continues to grow, the State Board of Education is currently exploring replacements for testing secondary students, which includes the pre-ACT in 9th and 10th grade rather than SAGE. Park City School District supports this change in assessment.


Board Retreat Summary

Sept. 21, 2017

Board Responsibilities

Board members discussed their individual and collective responsibilities as a Board and how to disperse the workload. The Board will create a PCSD Governing Board Bylaws, and revise the PCSD Governing Board Handbook. Drafts of both documents will be done by December with plans to be ratified in January 2018.

Maximizing Board Meetings

The Board talked about how to maximize their meetings. The Board will limit agendas to policy, budget, areas of focus for the year, member topic issues, and emergent issues. The Board also directed Superintendent Ember Conley to change the meeting layout of the Board room, and begin live streaming the Board meetings.

Board Goals

The Board is focused upon providing support to ensure that the student learning goals are met. The Board’s goals include: writing and revising district policy; aligning the budget with Board and student learning goals; leading and implementing the Strategic Plan mission, vision, values, and goals; promoting and advocating the district’s safe and healthy focus; ensuring safe facilities; promoting staff and student wellness; increasing engagement with students, staff, parents, and community members; and improving communication and transparency with the public.

Board Leadership

The Board looked at the process for election of new Board leadership (which will occur at its Oct. 3 meeting) and outlined the responsibilities of the Board president. Members also set a timeline for the selection of a new Board member to replace Julie Eihausen.

Community Meetings

Board members want to begin holding an informational meeting once a month to increase community engagement with the Board. These meetings will also allow the Board to keep its Regular Session meetings focused on policy, budget, areas of focus for the year, member topic issues, and emergent issues. Two Board members, the Superintendent, and the Business Administrator, will be present at these community meetings and groups and/or individuals who want to share information with the Board will need to sign up in advance to get on the agenda. The Board members will not take comment on personnel issues. The Board directed the Superintendent to set up a schedule of these meetings for the 2017-18 school year.

School Assignments

The Board agreed to be assigned to specific schools with the responsibility of attending school events and meetings, and corresponding with constituents. School assignments include:

JJ Ehlers: Jeremy Ranch Elementary and Park City High School (requires two members because of its size)

Anne Peters: McPolin Elementary and Treasure Mountain Junior High

Petra Butler: Ecker Hills Middle and Park City Learning Academy

Andrew Caplan: Parley’s Park Elementary and Trailside Elementary

Julie Eihausen/New Board Member: Park City High School, District Office, and Transportation

Public Relations and Communication

Melinda Colton, director of Communications, spoke to the Board about ways to increase its communication with the public. She also shared insight about how Board members can more effectively talk to the news media.