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Board Meeting Summary, Feb. 16, 2016

Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking the corresponding agenda items.


Hillcrest Feeder

The Board of Education gave approval to an innovative $461,000 program that will launch a targeted effort to bolster the achievement of the schools in the Hillcrest High feeder system. The pilot initiative will put into place a method for tracking and transitioning Midvale-area students from one school to the next, as well as start an intensive summer-school program to help address the academic needs of struggling teen students. In its approval, the Board said it would evaluate the program’s effectiveness after a two-year period. Even before the program was approved unanimously by the Board, Hillcrest High Principal Greg Leavitt and other Midvale-school administrators had already started to spend one evening a week visiting students at their homes to talk about their grades and their attendance and tardy records. Data show that 33 percent of Hillcrest students are not on track to graduate, and 45 percent of Midvale students scheduled to attend Hillcrest in 2016-2017 are below grade level in reading and mathematics.  Administrators told the Board on Tuesday that the Hillcrest feeder, which includes three of CSD’s four Title I schools, is in “dire straights.” There are many challenges to address. For example, at Midvale, East Midvale and Copperview elementary schools and Midvale Middle, it’s difficult to attract and retain strong teachers who want to work in schools with populations that face serious socioeconomic and foreign-language challenges. The schools also report low parent engagement, chronic absenteeism and high numbers of students who are homeless or must transfer schools several times throughout the year — all issues that can have negative impacts on a child’s academic performance.  With the newly allocated funding, the Administration will hire an additional administrative intern at Hillcrest High, one additional Achievement Coach at each Midvale elementary school and Midvale Middle, and funding for an intensive summer school program for Hillcrest’s incoming ninth-grade students.

Legislative Affairs  

External Affairs Director Charlie Evans spoke about legislation being debated by Utah lawmakers during the 2016 General Session of the Utah Legislature. He updated the Board on SB145, which would require property taxes on the 680 acres now occupied by the Utah State Prison in Draper to be funneled to General Fund instead of dispersed to local governments, including CSD. If this plan is realized, CSD’s potential property-tax revenue loss could reach $12 million.  If the bill gains passage, other parts of the District would have to pay more to augment the costs of educating the children living in houses on the redeveloped land. Board member Nancy Tingey said the proposed bill represents a major shift in the established funding mechanism for local government entities. Property taxes were designed to help local governments provide services to the people they represent. The Board seeks to start a committee to examine the Utah Prison Relocation and its potential impacts on Canyons District. In addition, the Board discussed how the Administration can begin engaging in active communications with the public regarding the issues surrounding the prison relocation.

CTE Month

For CTE Month, Career and Technical Education Director Janet Goble presented information about CTE offerings in Canyons District.  The two major aims of CTE, she told the Board of Education, is to connect students with high-skill, high-demand careers and ensure a seamless connection between high schools and the community colleges. Goble told the Board that when students can see how their coursework connects with careers, they become more engaged in the learning process. Goble also discussed the recent launch of a Diesel Technician Training program. As a result of the effort, Canyons high school students will receive hands-on training on modern diesel engines before being guided to a set of courses and training at Salt Lake Community College.  Participating students are then eligible to be placed in jobs in the industry. Goble also invited the Board to CSD’s Entrepreneur Conference on Friday, Feb. 19 at SLCC’s Miller Campus, and the various upcoming “Shark Tank-” like competitions at CSD high schools. 

Dual Language Immersion

The Board of Education gave approval to Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward and School Performance Director Mike Sirois to continue discussions with the Utah State Office of Education regarding the District’s middle school schedule. Discussion centered on the scheduling challenges associated with coursework related to dual-language immersion and required CTE programming. Roderick-Landward, Sirois, District Administrators and principals also continue to brainstorm options for a new middle school schedule. 

Recognitions

The Board of Education recognized Hillcrest High’s Drill Team for winning the 4A Drill Team state championship; Corner Canyon senior Camden Seeborg for scoring a perfect 36 on the ACT; Midvale Middle Counselor Jared Buhanan-Decker for winning the Carl Perkins Counseling Award, and CCHS students Cassidi Christensen and Deanna Nguyen for winning awards in the 2016 Utah State Office of Education’s Martin Luther King Jr. Essay and Video Contest. 

Policy Updates

Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen updated the Board on recommendations from the Policy Committee. The Board took under advisement proposed policies that state the Board’s college- and career-ready philosophy; an acknowledgement of the Board’s statutory authority to establish instruction and graduation requirements; and definitions of CSD’s differentiated diplomas. The Board also took under advisement proposed policies about open enrollment and school moratoriums.

Patron Comment

Parent Bryn Johnson proposed the start of a volunteer parent board to serve as a liaison between Board of Education and parents of students in the Dual Language Immersion Program. 

CSD teacher Royce Shelby expressed concern about the CTESS evaluation system.  He told the Boardit takes too much time for teachers to prepare for the evaluation, and therefore impacts the teacher’s ability to focus on his or her students.   

Board Action

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the minutes from Feb. 2, 2016 Board meeting; purchasing bids; proposals for student overnight travel; LAND Trust Plan Amendments; the Superintendent Contract for the period of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018; the Business Administrator Contract for the period of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018; and January Financial Reports. The Board also denied appeals by two students to enter by permit into a school placed on moratorium status by the Board of Education.

Board, Administration Comments

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said he is working with Student Advocacy and Access Director Karen Sterling to arrange for the Board to visit the Midvale overflow shelter of The Road Home. Dr. Briscoe also congratulated the District for winning the 2016 Sandy Summit Award for Public-Partner of the Year. The District was lauded for its partnership with the city on the construction of Mount Jordan Middle’s Auditorium. Dr. Briscoe also thanked the Board for the two-year extension of his contract. He says it is an honor and community to serve the Canyons community. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox commended the CSD Nutrition Services Department on a successful compliance review. Wilcox also said he and the CSD External Affairs Team continue to work together to monitor the education-related bills being debated on Capitol Hill.  Wilcox also thanked the Board for extending his contract for two additional years. 

Board member Chad Iverson thanked Dr. Briscoe and Wilcox for their work on behalf of the District. He said the compensation packages are commensurate for the positions in such a large, complex and forward-thinking school district. He also expressed support the idea of a Dual-Language Immersion parent group that reports to the Board. He also publicly supported the efforts of Sen. Jim Debakis, D-Salt Lake, to halt the practice of splitting income-tax revenue between public and higher education.

Board member Clareen Arnold thanked Sandy City for the Public Partnership Award. She also expressed thanks to the staff members who answered her questions about the Hillcrest Feeder Proposal. She also said she was excited to continue working with Dr. Briscoe and Wilcox for another two years.

Steve Wrigley expressed appreciation for Dr. Briscoe and Wilcox, and thanked Sandy City for recognition of the Mount Jordan partnership. He also thanked the staff for their hard work and dedication. 

Board member Nancy Tingey reported on a recent tour of the under-construction Butler Elementary.  She also appreciated the information given during a recent Standards-Based Grading presentation by guest lecturer Tom Schimmer.  Mrs. Tingey also congratulated CSD Partnerships and Volunteer Coordinator Brittani Bailey for winning the Sandy Chamber Peaks Award for Volunteer of the Year.  She also enjoyed looking at the Science Fair entries, and thanked the staff for providing students an opportunity to excel. 

Board member Amber Shill reported on Bella Vista’s 50th birthday, celebrated in Mardi Gras-style. She also toured the new Butler Elementary and the construction site of the new Cottonwood Heights government building.  Mrs. Shill also thanked Dr. Briscoe and Wilcox for their work and wished them well in the coming two years.

Board President Taylor thanked Dr. Briscoe and Wilcox for agreeing to remain in their posts at the District for another two years.  He also turned time over to Communications Director Jeff Haney to introduce CSD’s new Associate Director of Communications, Kirsten Stewart.  Kirsten currently works in as a senior writer and editor for the Health Sciences Center at the University of Utah.  She also has worked as a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune. While at the newspaper, she covered the creation of Canyons District.