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Board Meeting Summary, May 10, 2016

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


Negotiated Agreements


The Board unanimously approved tentative negotiated agreements for 2016-2017 with the Canyons Education Association, the Canyons Association of Education Support Professionals, and District Administrators. The tentative agreement with the Canyons Education Association for the 2016-2017 school year will give certificated employees a .59 percent increase in cost of living, in addition to steps and lanes. The contract will extend one paid day. Additionally, the District has adopted a longevity step for teachers with 25 or more local years of experience. They will receive $1,500. Teachers who have between 20 and 24 local years of experience receive $1,000. The agreement also indicates that a $4,200 Educators Salary Adjustment is not to be withheld from educators who do not pass evaluations. The employee association and District also agreed to share the cost of a 7 percent increase in health insurance premiums.

The tentative negotiated agreement with administrators for 2016-2017 includes fully funded incremental steps for eligible employees. The District also will cover a 1.25 percent increase to the base of the Administrative Salary Schedule. The District will fund a 1.25 percent one-time stipend for those administrators on the top step during the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Forty-one administrators qualify for this stipend. The administrators agreed to share the 7 percent hike in health-insurance premiums with the District. 

For the Education Support Professionals, the District will pay for incremental steps for eligible employees. About 93 percent of contracted ESP will receive a step increase. Employees also will receive a 1 percent COLA increase to the base of the ESP salary schedule. Also, upon retirement from URS, the District will pay $100 per day for 25 percent of the employee’s accrued but unused sick leave. The ESP association agreed to share with the District the 7 percent hike in health-insurance premiums. 

CTESS Update

Utah state law requires school districts to evaluate administrators and licensed educators based upon “Effective Teaching Standards,” and specifies that evaluations include evidence of student growth, instructional quality and stakeholder input. In the 2014-2015 school year, teachers participated in a field test of Canyons Teacher Effectiveness Support System (CTESS). Based on their feedback, many changes were made to the system, which was fully implemented this school year, but remains a work in progress. Administrator of Evaluation and Leadership Sandra Dahl-Houlihan and Human Resources Director Stephen Dimond updated the Board on efforts to refine CTESS to provide teachers with more meaningful feedback, including the creation of data dashboards and a Canyons Teacher Support Academy where educators can attend workshops and plug into supports. The goal of evaluation is to help teachers continuously improve, explained Dimond. Data show 93 percent of Canyons’ career educators are effective or highly effective, and 87 percent of provisional teachers are effective or highly effective. Data also show an increase in the number of highly effective teachers and a decrease in the number of those found ineffective. Responding to ongoing concerns that teachers have about CTESS — particularly, confusion over the competencies that teachers are expected to demonstrate — Board members committed to further discussing CTESS at their summer retreat. Canyons Education Association President Jennifer Buttars voiced support for the system, which she said isn’t perfect — but is getting better. “Hundreds of hours have gone into examining the data and tweaking and improving the process,” she said. “We are really close to getting this done.”

State Representative Comments

Special guest Rep. Bruce Cutler, R-Murray, shared his Legislative priorities and remarked on actions taken during the last Legislative session and areas of focus for next year. Lawmakers this year passed a clean up bill to clarify that rule-making authority rests with the State Board of Education and not the Utah State Office of Education. The bill also stipulates that the auditor who oversees education spending reports to the Board. Cutler pledged to continue to work on Legislation next year to put public charter schools on more equal footing with public schools. He expressed interest in making it easier for business professionals to be hired and licensed as teachers, reasoning that it would help alleviate the shortage of educators skilled in math, science and technical fields. Responding to circling debate over the merits of SAGE testing, Cutler said he’s not opposed to the idea of abandoning the test. But he believes lawmakers need more time to weigh options than a Special Session would afford. Cutler also voiced concern about teacher morale, suggesting educators deserve more pay and respect. Finally, he pledged support for more local control of schools and invited the Board to keep him apprised of instances when state policies go too far.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, including purchasing bids; student overnight travel; hire and termination reports; finance reports; and LAND Trust plans.


Portable Classroom Transfers

The Board postponed approval of the transfer of portable classrooms to Butler and Draper Park middle schools and Lone Peak Elementary, pending further discussion at the next meeting of the Board of Education.


Budget Update

Fiscal Year 2017 will be the seventh consecutive year without a property tax increase in the Canyons District, Business Administrator Leon Wilcox told the Board of Education. For the first time, Canyons will receive money under a Salt Lake County equalization program designed to redistribute funds to growing districts. Canyons had the highest enrollment growth of all county Districts between 2012 and 2015, and will receive $959,000 in fiscal year 2016. Last year, CSD contributed about $2.1 million. The Board is scheduled to adopt a tentative budget at its June 14 meeting, following a public hearing.

Student Fees

The Board voted to extend the existing student fee schedule.  This means there will be no increase in student fees for the 2016-2017 school year.

All Day Kindergarten

A proposal to start a full-day tuition based kindergarten was discussed by the Board of Education. Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward told the Board about the many benefits of full-day kindergarten, including gains on literacy and language measures and outstanding social and behavior development.  While 78 percent of students across the country are enrolled in full-day kindergarten in the U.S., here in Utah, only 8 percent are in full-day kindergarten classes. The Administration proposes starting full-day kindergarten at such pilot locations as Altara, Bella Vista, Brookwood, East Sandy, Edgemont or Oakdale elementary schools. Cost would be $2,950 per year or $295 monthly for 10 months. A 10 percent discount would be given to those who pay in full for the proposed first-come, first-served program. Fee waivers also will be part of the offerings for parents. The Board and Administration continue to dialogue about whether the enrollment preference would be per boundary or open for all students in the District. An application fee would be $35. The suggested timeline for the proposal seeks Board approval, then plans on a two-week open-application window, a notification period for families accepted or denied, a first-payment deadline of Aug. 1, a two-month period to hire and train teachers, a January evaluation and, if successful, consideration for expansion.  The Board, which had questions about access and costs, took the proposal under advisement. 

Academic Framework

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie updated the Board on the District’s academic framework. The evidence-based framework, last updated in July 2014, outlines a comprehensive system to support high-quality and effective instruction that aligns with curriculum, instruction and assessment to improve student achievement. Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward said CSD has been asked to share the District’s framework with many districts across the country. The framework was developed soon after Canyons became a District and remains a dynamic document that is refined as new information becomes available. Landward said the framework drives professional development. 

Patron Comments

Canyons Education Association President Jen Buttars thanked the member of the CEA negotiating team during the recent contract negotiations  She said 98 percent of the CEA members voted to ratify the contract. She also introduced members of CEA leadership. 

Butler Middle Parent Kami McMaster adressed the Board about an anti-pornography assembly called "Fight the New Drug," which was postponed at the middle school until the coming school year. Before the assembly, she said, parents will first be invited to a meeting to learn more about the topic before it is shown to students. She also invited the Board to attend the event just in case they had any questions about the assembly and its content. 

Chase Dalton spoke on behalf of Yellow Bus Media, which handles the sale and placement of school-bus advertisements. He requested an opportunity to present to the Board during a study session. 

Board Comments

Board member Clareen Arnold reported on her attendance at the arts consortium. She also said it appears Brain Boosters are working well in our elementary schools. 

Board Vice President Steve Wrigley expressed appreciation for Gaylene’s contribution to the creation and operations of Canyons District. He also thanked the negotiating teams for the negotiated agreements. 

Board 2nd Vice President thanked the Canyons Education Foundation for heading up plans for last Thursday’s Spring Gala. She also expressed appreciation to the good work of all employees who focus on the college- and career-readiness of students. She also thanked Gaylene for her work on behalf of the Board of Education.

Board member Robert Green reported on sessions he attended while at the National School Board Association conference.  He thanked the Board and Administration for supporting his family while they grieved a death in the family. Green also said he will miss Halvorsen’s “beaming smile” and “encouraging words.” 

President Taylor thanked members of the administration by name for their work on behalf of the Board and the Administration.  He also expressed thanks to Gaylene for her professionalism. He also welcomed new Board secretary Denise Haycock.  

Superintendent, Business Administrator Comments

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe applauded employee unions for their hard work in negotiating contracts for next year. He noted that it has been a true privilege working with retiring Administrative Assistant and Board secretary Gaylene Halvorsen, and that he wishes her all the best.

Business Adminstrator Leon Wilcox also voiced appreciation for the civility with which contract negotiations were done this year.  He added that he will miss Gaylene Halvorsen and her contributions to the District.