PARK CITY — Park City school board members voted Tuesday to spend $870,000 on a home for the district’s newly hired superintendent.
Video of the Park City School District Board of Education meeting showed one board member say she thought the purchase was a bad move, but others said the community is supportive of the deal. Park City School District Spokeswoman Melinda Colton told KSL.com the home’s price is "well below the average" for a home in the area.
Superintendent Dr. Jill Gildea, a Greenwich, Connecticut, school administrator who was appointed in May, will move into the Jeremy Ranch home this week, according to Colton.
Board members approved the purchase with a 3-1 vote at their Sept. 4 meeting. Real estate documents published online show the asking price of the home was $885,000, but the district negotiated to purchase it for $870,000. The deal is scheduled to close on Monday, the documents show.
Board member Petra Butler, who voted against the purchase, said even though Gildea’s contract requires the district to provide housing, purchasing the home is not a good move.
“We’re taking almost $1 million out of our capital budget,” Butler said during the meeting. “That’s a million dollars, almost, that we cannot spend to either fund building another school, buying property, whatever it might be. So that gives me another issue for pause.”
She suggested that providing Gildea a housing stipend would be a better option.
Other board members disagreed. JJ Ehlers said if the district offered Gildea a stipend, the district wouldn’t see any return for its investment.
“By purchasing a house… it’s a capital investment,” Ehlers said. “We have something for that money.”
Board members Anne Peters and Erin Grady both said they were eager to get Gildea settled in the home. Peters said the purchase price for the home is in a comfortable range, and Grady added that her constituents were supportive of the move.
Colton said in an email that the board asked the district’s business administrator, Todd Hauber, to find a home for the superintendent. The board budgeted $1 million for the purchase and considered more than 25 homes, she said.
“This home was well below that budget,” Colton said. “The average price of a home in (Park City) is well over $1 million so this home is well below the average price. It is nothing extravagant — just a family home.”
The superintendent will pay for all utilities, including water, heat, internet, maintenance and other costs, Colton said.
She added that all future superintendents will have the opportunity to live in the home, and previous superintendents have been given a housing stipend. The district previously owned a home in the 1980s, she said.
Colton echoed Grady’s feeling that the community is supportive of the purchase.
“We have not had the outrage that some in the valley are having,” she said. “Those who live in Park City know it is very expensive to live there. During our focus groups for hiring a new superintendent, the community told us over and over again how important it is that all the superintendents live in Park City.”
Gildea previously worked as superintendent of Greenwich Public Schools in Connecticut. She has 11 years of experience as a superintendent, according to an emailed statement from Park City School District officials in May.