Board members holding informal meetings to engage community


In an effort to engage parents, employees, and members of the community, the Park City School District Board of Education has started holding informal monthly meetings.

The board’s first Information Exchange Meeting was held Wednesday, Nov. 8, at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School. Each month the meetings will be held at a different school. Some will be held during the day, and other meetings will be held at night to accommodate those who work.

The following items were discussed last night by the parents and teachers who attended the meeting with Andrew Caplan, board President, and JJ Ehlers, board Vice President:

Homework policy being piloted at Jeremy Ranch Elementary this year: A parent from Jeremy Ranch asked if the policy was really working. Sherry Barski, a reading specialist at the school, said they are already seeing a decrease in the stress level of students and parents.  Students are also accountable to read every night. “It has been a very positive thing so far,” she said.

The parent expressed concern that not having homework may “dumb down” school. She wondered how a student goes from no homework at the elementary level to taking AP courses at the high school level that require a great deal of homework. Superintendent Ember Conley said a lot of Professional Learning Communities in the schools are looking at their homework policies. Teachers are naturally looking at students individually and their different styles of learning.

One parent from McPolin Elementary said his child is dyslexic so they have to do homework at their house. He said a lot of students need socialization, creative time, and playtime. “You can’t fit all those things in a child’s day. I’d love to see the district get into more project-based learning.”

Study Skills: A parent expressed the need for an overall study skills class. “Our students need to learn how to learn,” she said.  “Learning how to study is essential for student success.”

Challenging Classes:  A parent said students need to be encouraged more to take challenging classes.  Jamie Weeks, a math teacher at the high school, said when students don’t do well in rigorous classes they drop the class.

Graduates: President Caplan asked the question, “What do we want our graduates to look like? What do they need to be equipped with as they leave high school? We need to make sure they are prepared with life skills.”

A parent commended the PCCAPS program saying the project-based learning teaches skills not only related to the business world, but the real world. Dr. Conley said there is talk among the regional superintendent about the need for a technical center.  There are students who don’t succeed in a traditional classroom and the tech center would provide them with hands-on training, she said.

The board’s next Information Exchange Meeting is Dec. 13 from 1-3 p.m. at Ecker Hill Middle School.





















Board Meeting Summary

Nov. 7, 2017 | Special Regular Session

District 5 Board Candidate Interviews

The Board interviewed two candidates who applied to fill the vacancy in District 5 due to Julie Eihausen’s resignation effective Feb. 5, 2018.

-Erin Grady has lived in Park City for 34 years and currently serves as co-president of the PTA at Parley’s Park Elementary. She is a board member of PC READS and  the Figure Skating Club of Park City. For 12 years she served as communications manager for Deer Valley Resort. “I want to look back and know that I did my part in securing a positive future not only for my kids but for the children of Park City as a whole,” she said.

-Betsy Ricks has lived in Park City for 24 years and is an educator at the Peace House teaching children from kindergarten through high school about personal safety, child abuse, and healthy relationships. “I am passionate about education and would love to play a part in helping our district continue to develop programs and opportunities that will benefit all our children and better our community,” she said.

The Board will announce its board member appointment at its Nov. 21 meeting.

Strategic Planning Update

Board member Anne Peters presented updated information based on additional feedback the Board received from employees and community members. The updated values include: Academic Success, Leadership, Excellent Personnel, Communication, and Community Alliances. The Board reviewed its major goals and next steps in updating the district’s strategic plan. Eric Esquivel, Latino Community Relations specialist for the district, reported on his outreach efforts to Latino parents, and the Board said it will incorporate their feedback into the plan. Once the major portions of the strategic plan are finalized, the Board will communicate that information to the community and employees.

Open and Closed Enrollment

Business Administrator Todd Hauber presented the Board with nine open enrollment scenarios. The Board discussed the options and their impacts on school enrollment capacities and whether or not it can close some of the district’s schools to open enrollment next school year.

Policies for Posting

The Board approved posting the following policies for review:

-Policy 7085: Employee Licensed Staff

-Policy 7160: Orderly Termination

-Policy 10001: Bullying

-Policy 10026: Home School-Dual Enrollment

-Policy 9091 (NEW): Student Data Privacy and Governance  

Board President Andrew Caplan said in the future the district’s attorneys will provide a brief summary of the changes to help make the policies more understandable to the public. The Board requested Policy 3005—Community Councils, be sent back to the attorneys for additional updates.

More strategic planning meetings held for employees, community

Strategic-PlanningThe Board is meeting with Park City School District employees this week in an effort to get their feedback on the district’s Strategic Planning.  Board members met Monday with staff from Park City High and Treasure Mountain Junior High.

Additional meetings include:

-Wednesday, Oct. 25: Meet with administrations at 9 a.m. at the District Office.

-Friday, Oct. 27: Meet with Ecker Hill Middle and all elementary staff at 3:30 p.m. at Parley’s Park Elementary.

-Wednesday, Nov. 1: Meet with community members at 6 p.m. at the District Office.

The Board has spent the last few weeks reviewing all the feedback it received at its Oct. 2 community meeting. From that meeting, the Board has narrowed the district’s values to five: academic engagement, communications, community involvement, excellent personnel, and leadership accountability.

“These values reflect the overarching PCSD goals of a student-centered culture promoting a safe, healthy, challenged, supported and engaged child,” said Board member Anne Peters. “Everything we as a board, administration, and district do must uphold these values as communicated to us by the community.”

Peters said the Board is reaching out to the Latino community via Eric Esquivel and his Latino Outreach team.

Those not able to attend the follow-up meetings are invited to share input by emailing

The values, in more details, include:

We value:

Academic Engagement

-Engaging all students, no matter where they are in their academic journey.

-Creating a culture of inclusiveness and respect for the rich diversity of our community.

-Meeting the children where they are and accommodating for their types and speeds of learning.

-Equity for all learners.

We value:


-Trust and transparency.

-Frequent and easy to understand.

-Two ways.

-Listening to feedback/suggestions and communicate back how it is to be used.

-Explain why we are doing things, what is the outcome and how does it affect me and my child?

-Consistency in how information is communicated.

-Inclusion of non-English speakers.

-Inclusion of the entire community.

We value:

Community Involvement

-Inclusion of the whole community in all ways to better understand the direction and needs of the district.

-Collaborating with our partners to uphold our mission of supporting the whole child.

-Outreach to local support first, including the community and local talent base.

-Creating opportunities for the community to engage with the schools and staff.

We value

Excellent Personnel

-Consistently hiring the best and the brightest for all positions.

-Recruiting outside the district.

-Always hiring personnel in a transparent, fair, equitable and consistent manner.

-Building trust and respect for all employees.

-An inclusive, talented, collaborative and diverse talent pool.

-Training and support to set every position up for success.

We value:

Leadership Accountability

-Holding everyone no matter their position or status accountable for their actions.

-Tangible goals that are established then monitored and measured starting with the Board, Superintendent, Administration and all-staff.

-Clear processes and procedures that are transparent, free of favoritism, by the book and available for all to review, participate in and measure.

-Leadership’s commitment to honor their word and deliver the expected level of service on time.

-Consequences for those not upholding their goals.











Board Summary

Oct. 17, 2017 | Regular Session

Special Recognition


Carly Stenmark, a Park City business owner and published author, was recognized at the board meeting for completing her adult education degree. Stenmark earned her high school diploma as a way to impress upon her grandchildren the importance of education.

Board Member Reports

-Julie Eihausen read a letter from the Consulate of Mexico thanking the Board for reaffirming the district’s commitment to all students and providing a safe space for students.

-Petra Butler reported on her attendance at the following meetings: Community Cares, Ecker Hill Middle’s PTO, Mental Health Alliance, and two information sessions for potential board members.

-Vice President JJ Ehlers attended the audit committee meeting and said the process moving forward is for the committee to submit a report to the Board by Nov. 14. She also attended the two information sessions for possible board candidates, Jeremy Ranch’s PTO and SCC meetings, and the Utah School Boards Association regional meeting.

-President Andrew Caplan said every audit round contains recommendations for best practices and he suggested the Board discuss the need to hire an auditor. President Caplan also attended the following meetings recently: United Way partnership, the Lunch & Learn on safety, Trailside PTO, and the Park City Education Foundation.

 Superintendent’s Report

-The district is beginning the process of looking at three new teacher evaluation systems. Criteria, in compliance with state code, and a scoring process are being developed to evaluate the systems. Superintendent Ember Conley said she is anxious to hear as many voices as possible from educators on these systems.

-The superintendent reported on her attendance at three PTO meetings this past month,  bi-weekly meetings with all principals, three school staff meetings, the McPolin Fall Festival, and the National Blue Ribbon School Award presentation at Jeremy Ranch Elementary,

-Superintendent Conley reiterated the district’s focus on the Whole Child: healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. In keeping with the safe and healthy focus this year, she held a Lunch & Learn where she shared safety protocol with parents, and she attended a Lunch & Learn the district co-sponsored with Connect Summit County that featured Randi Silverman, one of the nation’s leading voices on youth mental health.

-A school climate survey has been conducted and the superintendent said principals and administrators are now sharing that data with their teams.

PCEA Statement

The Park City Education Association expressed gratitude to the Board for its support of teachers and the increase in salaries it provided this year.

Communications Report

Melinda Colton, director of Communications, shared statistics related to the district’s social media channels, including earning 1.0K impressions per day on Twitter in the past month, a 30% increase in followers in Facebook, and a 104% increase in the number of people reached on Facebook in a month (52,026). The district received 43 media placements in September and so far in October has received 17. Colton is working to increase subscriptions on the district’s newsroom blog and will begin marketing it to parents and the community in the near future.

Budget Overview

-Business Administrator Todd Hauber reviewed available instructional spaces with the Board. The data is essential as the Board considers school capacity prior to the start of open enrollment. That information can be found here.

-Hauber presented the district class size averages for 2017-18. The report can be viewed here.

-He also reviewed the 2018 sustainable budget and the district’s Revenue and Rainy Day Fund Balance impacts. It can be viewed here.

-The board approved a tentative maintenance and operation budget timeline for approving the 2018-19 PCSD budget.

-President Caplan said the board is anxious to get preliminary estimates so if it needs to issue a tax increase it can communicate that to the public as soon as possible.

Special Education Program Update

Following an audit from the Utah State Board of Education, Associate Superintendent of Student Wellness Ben Belnap discussed the need for a districtwide process. Board members expressed frustration that they have earmarked funding for additional personnel but not all the positions have been filled. Superintendent Conley said the issue is bigger than just hiring another person and said this issue is not being ignored. Special education issues are talked about daily. Dr. Belnap said rather than go through each issue that needs to be addressed, he suggested developing a whole new system. He emphasized the importance of building a foundation and taking the time to develop a process correctly.

Strategic Planning Update

Anne Peters reported on the Strategic Plan Community meeting held Oct. 2. From the feedback that night, the board has developed a tentative mission and vision statement, and five tenets. The board will be holding additional feedback sessions, with staff and administration next week and a follow-up session with the community on Nov. 1. The board is also exploring ways to get input from the Latino community. 

Year of Safe & Healthy

The Board was provided a timeline for school front offices, perimeter and classroom doors, and boundary/fencing. Elementary front offices should be complete by December and secondary front offices will be complete by April. An emergency response database should be in place by the end of the month, and a visitor management system ready in June. President Caplan reported on the first safety community meeting at Parley’s Park Elementary. A group of parents and neighbors has been created to make recommendations to the board about the location of the fence.

Board to hold informal meetings to have more interaction with public

Beginning in November, the Park City School District Board of Education will begin holding informal exchange meetings. The purpose of these new meetings is to allow community groups, parents, and employees the chance to interact with the Board and present ideas and information that will be helpful to the Board.

Two board members, the Superintendent, Business Administrator and Communications Director will be present at each meeting. The board members will then provide an overview of the meeting to other board members during a Regular Session of the board.

Those individuals or groups wanting time during the informal exchange meetings should e-mail Board President Andrew Caplan to schedule a time on the agenda. Please note: the Board will not take comments on personnel.

Informal Exchange Meeting Schedule

Nov. 8: 6-8 p.m., Jeremy Ranch Elementary 

Dec. 13, 1-3 p.m., Ecker Middle

Jan. 10: 6-8 p.m., McPolin Elementary

Feb. 14: 1-3 p.m., Park City High

March 14: 6-8 p.m., Parley’s Park Elementary


May 9: 6-8 p.m., Park City Learning Academy





Board Meeting

Oct. 12 | Special Regular Session

Strategic Planning Community Engagement

Board members reviewed the feedback they received at the Strategic Planning Community Meeting held Oct. 2. Each member reviewed the common themes specific to his or her assignments that evening.

Andrew Caplan: Leadership and Accountability

Teachers, principals, administrators and school board members are all accountable to the community.

The lack of accountability from the Board is one of the reasons the Bond was not successful.

The Board needs to work on developing the public trust.

The Board is accountable to the voters, and the Administration is accountable to the Board.

The community’s interests need to be reflected in the work the Board is doing.

The district’s Strategic Plan will help drive those interests as the district moves forward.

The public wants access to more data in an effort to create a culture of accountability.

The Board and the district need to have a simple message that resonates with the community.

JJ Ehlers: Communications

The public had suggestions on various ways to communicate.

The community says the wording of communications is important so the public can understand the why’s and how’s of projects.

The district needs to continue to work at improving its outreach with non-English speakers.

The Board and the district need to do a better job of reaching out those who do not have children in school. 

Communicate how PCSD processes input and how the Board plans to use it.

JJ Ehlers: Community Involvement

Determine at a higher level what community involvement means, who and how to engage but more importantly, why.  What is the outcome? 

Community members suggested ways to involve the community.

Invite the community to more school events such as homecoming, plays/musicals, concerts, etc.

Work with the faculty, School Community Councils, and PTOs to create ways for more volunteering and involvement at local schools.

Community members without children in schools still need to know what is going on at their neighborhood school.

Petra Butler: Excellent Personnel

The public wants engagement and participation at the decision-making level.

Acknowledge what is being said and is actually heard.

Have consistent hiring practices and have transparency in the hiring process.

Build trust and respect for employees.

We need to focus on changing the climate in the district.

Housing and transportation continues to be an issue for personnel.

Anne Peters: One Size Fits All

Academics: arts, college prep, conflict resolution, dual language immersion, grade configurations, homework, middle learners, personalized learning, programming, special education, testing, and workload.

People: bridging the gap between home and school, parent involvement, and concerns for the social/emotional well-being of students.

Environment: school size.

Master planning: facilities, size of schools, climate in schools, size of cohorts, etc.


Following a discussion of each area, the Board noted the overarching theme for the district is the academic engagement for all students. They drafted the following mission statement, vision, and tenants:

Tentative Mission Statement: Inspire and equitably support students to achieve their academic and social potential.

Tentative Vision: Student Centered! (The Whole Child: safe, healthy, challenged, support, engaged)

Tentative Tenets:

      – Academic Engagement

      – Leadership Accountability

      – Excellent Personnel

      – Community Involvement

      – Communication

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Next Steps

The Board will work with Eric Esquivel (District Latino Community Relations) to determine how best to engage the Latino community and get their feedback.

Board will meet with TMJH and PCHS Staff on Oct. 23, 3 p.m., Treasure Mountain Junior High Library.

Board will meet with  Administrators on Oct. 25, 9 a.m., District Office.

Board will meet with Ecker Middle and Elementary Staff on Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m., Parley’s Park Elementary.

Board will meet with the community for final feedback on Nov. 1, 6 p.m., District Office.

Board to determine mission, vision, tenants at Nov. 7 Work Session.

The district will develop a request for proposal (RFP) for a master planning facilitator. Master planning will begin once a facilitator is selected.

Demographics study will be complete in January 2018.

School board seeks new member from District 5

School Board Vacancy

The school board will be holding information meetings this month for those interested in applying for the vacancy in District 5 that will occur when Julie Eihausen leaves the board Feb. 5, 2018.

Candidate information meetings are:
-Oct. 16: 9-10 a.m., Park City Bread & Bagel
-Oct. 17: 6-7 p.m., Starbucks at Fresh Market

-Oct. 24: 9-10 a.m., Ecker Hill Middle School

Interested candidates who live in District 5 should send their completed applications to Vice President JJ Ehlers by Nov. 2 at 4:30 p.m., or drop it off in a sealed envelope at the District Office by Nov. 2 at 4:30 p.m.

Candidates will be interviewed at an open session on Nov. 7 at 9 a.m. in the Boardroom at the District Office. The board will announce the new member at its Nov. 21 regular session at 4 p.m.

For more information click here. Candidates are also welcome to contact a current Board member of Superintendent Ember Conley for more details.

Map of PCSD District 5.