Petition calls for delay in the renewal of Park City School District superintendent’s contract until 2025

PARK CITY, Utah — A petition circulating on asks the Park City School District not to renew Superintendent Jill Gildea’s contract until a new school board takes over in 2025. Gildea’s contract is not due for renewal until 2025, but recently School Board President Andrew Caplan said the board intended to accelerate that process to 2024. Some people are urging them to reconsider. As of July 11, the petition has 311 signatures.

The petition was launched by Josh Mann, who ran an unsuccessful 2022 campaign for a seat on the Park City Board of Education, and Karl Persson, who is involved in a federal investigation with the Park City School District alleging discrimination against his son.

The Perssons filed a complaint in October with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging that the Park City School District failed to adequately investigate the bullying allegations and protect their son. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on the story.

Dr. Gildea is Utah’s highest-paid superintendent, with an annual compensation package of $415,000, equating to $87 per pupil she oversees. In comparison, Superintendent Shane Farnsworth of Alpine, Utah’s largest district, earns $342,000 annually, or $4.50 per pupil, while managing 91 campuses versus Dr. Gildea’s seven campuses. Dr. Gildea has not undergone a performance evaluation since her hiring in 2018.

The school board says a performance review is conducted each year, and contracts are renewed every two years based on the outcome. In June, Caplan justified Gildea’s compensation package, which also includes a home and vehicle, on KPCW’s local news hour.

“Her salary is at the top end,” Caplan said. “That’s in line with all our employees. There’s a couple factors in that. One is her experience. [Gildea has] been a superintendent for 20 years. One is her performance, which has been excellent. And one is the cost of living in Park City, and the reality that people have to be paid more to live here.”

Among the reasons parents and petition signors are dissatisfied with Gildea is the recent federal investigation into bullying, which found numerous violations of law around employee training and tracking of bullying and harassment.

It also cites failings in code compliance, which resulted in two local criminal investigations and damaging findings by the federal Office for Civil Rights and the state auditor.

Thirdly, supporters of the petition take issue with the unlawful storing of dirt at Treasure Mountain Junior High that “for over six years exposed students and employees to harmful levels of lead and arsenic and prompted city, county, state and federal agencies to step in and threaten PCSD before the district finally removed the health hazard. District officials repeatedly lied to the public about the piles’ dangers and history,” the petition states.

In response to the petition, the Park City School District said one of the Board of Education’s primary responsibilities is supervising and negotiating contracts for the superintendent and business administrator.

“Each year, the board conducts a thorough performance review of these individuals. Based on this review, the board either renews their contracts for a total of two years or initiates a search for new district leaders. This fiduciary responsibility to review the contract annually is standard practice,” a statement from the District provided to TownLift said.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for factual clarity.

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