Middle School Schedule Update
In order to squeeze two extra core subjects into the middle school day, as required by the Utah State Board of Education, Canyons District must revisit its middle school schedules. On the table are a range of options, from sticking with the current six-period schedule to moving to a seven-period or a 10-period schedule — and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, explained Director of Elementary and Middle Schools Mike Sirois. Following months of review, which involved input from parents, a 35-person task force made up of principals and teachers representing all of CSD’s middle schools has settled on a menu of options that offers individual schools the flexibility to meet their unique needs. The task force’s recommendations were based on guiding principles: support team-teaching and collaboration; maximize instructional time; provide students with educational choices; and allow time for remediation. At issue is the addition of a Digital Literacy course and the expansion of the College and Career-Readiness core to a full year, which limit the amount of time available for students to take electives. While not a binding vote, Board members indicated a willingness to let individual schools decide what works best for their communities. The six-period schedule works well for some schools because it affords time for team-teaching while preserving instruction time and class sizes and still allowing time for one elective in music, the arts or another subject. But for students whose one elective is already eaten up by a world language or remediation course, the six-period schedule leaves no time for another elective. The Board directed schools to submit their preferred schedules to the Administration, which will bring a proposal to the Board for consideration at the Board’s January 17 meeting. The new schedules would take effect with the start of the 2017-2018 school year.
Review of Finances
Utah law requires school districts to publish within five months of the close of the fiscal year a complete set of financial statements. Business Administrator Leon Wilcox on Tuesday summarized highlights of the statement for fiscal year 2016:
- The District retired $16 million of general obligation school building bonds during 2016.
- Actual revenues were $1.5 million more than budgeted for the General Fund and actual expenditures were $3 million less than the amount budgeted for the fund.
- The 2010 bond has funded 13 scheduled projects, 10 of which have been completed. The remaining bond projects include the under-construction Midvale Middle and Alta View Elementary schools. The Indian Hills Middle project is in the design and planning stages. .
- The District has been able to strengthen its unassigned general fund balance from $11.2 million in 2010 to $20.6 million in 2016.
Board Vision and Mission Updates
The Board of Education approved a revised mission statement and indicators of achievement regarding the District’s mission. The motion to approve the changes was made by Robert Green — his final action as a member of the Board.
Farewell to Green
Members of the Canyons Board of Education honored Robert Green, whose four-year term on the Board ends this month. President Sherril Taylor read a statement that commended Green for his service. "While his input has been valuable on so many levels, we have especially admired and appreciated his advocacy of students in Title I schools," Taylor’s statement said. "Time after time, Robert has reminded us about the needs of this population, and has worked tirelessly to ensure that we were giving the necessary supports to students who need just a little help to do big things." Green's tenure spanned a time of great progress for the District. In the past four years, Canyons has been named to the AP Honor Roll twice; implemented new boundaries to balance enrollment around the District; successfully put into place grade reconfiguration; opened the new Corner Canyon High, Draper Park, Butler, and Mount Jordan middle schools, and Butler Elementary. The District also has started construction work on a new Midvale Middle and Alta View Elementary. It also was noted that Green helped the Board conduct a national search to hire Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe.
Parent Laura Rupper commented on potential schedule changes in middle schools, and asked the District to present information to parents for feedback and input. She also expressed concern about the trimester schedule at Brighton High.
Rand Rupper also commented on the middle school schedule. He also voiced concern about the Brighton High trimester schedule. He asked for the involvement of parents in deciding school issues.
Jenni Perkins, a member of the Middle School Schedule Task Force and a music teacher at Albion, commented on potential changes to the middle school schedule. She addressed concerns about not having enough time with her students and the impact the state-required courses will have on opportunities for students to take electives.
Shelley Allen, a teacher and International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme at Midvale Middle, said she served on the Middle School Schedule Task Force. Allen also said that teachers across the District have been able to give feedback throughout the process of designing proposals for the Board. She encouraged the Board to give options to schools to meet the unique needs of their communities.
Erica Bradshaw, Mount Jordan Middle teacher and Vice President of the Canyons Education Association, expressed appreciation for being able to serve on the task force. She encouraged the Board to allow respective communities to choose schedules that will best suit the needs of their schools.
Melinda Colton, chairwoman of the Draper Park Middle School Community Council, encouraged the Board to allow each school to establish its own schedule.
Andrew Shaffer, teacher at Union Middle, part of the task force, also commented on the middle schools schedule proposals discussed during the Board’s study session. He said CSD faculties have had a voice in the schedule proposals made to the Board.
Parent Ladd Johnson also commented on the middle school schedule. He urged the Board to consider the ability of students to be able to take electives.
Parent Michelle Lowry expressed concerns about some of the socio-economic issues facing Midvale Elementary. She asked the Board for additional support to help address the issues that are inherent with a Title I school.
The Board of Education approved the consent calendar, including the minutes from the Nov. 15, 2016 meeting of the Board of Education; hire and termination reports; student overnight travel; revised LAND Trust plan for Mount Jordan Middle and Granite Elementary; and the acceptance of the 2015-2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
The Board of Education confirmed a school-year calendar for the 2017-2018 school year, and tentatively approved the school-year calendars for the 2018-2019 as presented the Board.
The Board of Education approved updates to policies governing substitute staff employment, school volunteers, early retirement for administrators, and phased retirement.
Superintendent Jim Briscoe thanked the Board, District administrators and middle school principals and assistant principals for the productive discussion regarding potential middle school schedules. He expressed his appreciation to Robert Green for his service to the Board, and especially his advocacy of the CSD Title I communities. He also credited Green for CSD’s partnership with the United Way.
Business Administrator Leon Wilcox thanked Green for his service to Canyons District. He mentioned Green’s dedication to such projects at the Hillcrest summer academic initiative and the rebuild of Midvale Middle. He also thanked District administrators, teachers, counselors, parents and community partners for their response to the fatal car accident that claimed the lives of two students and injured three others.
Board Member Reports
Mr. Chad Iverson said the tragedy in Draper had a ripple effect throughout the CSD community. The deaths of the two students and injuries of three others reminded many of what is truly important, he said. He expressed appreciation for his opponent in the November election, Tracy Bennett. He said it was a civil campaign. He also expressed appreciation to Green for his service.
Mrs. Clareen Arnold lauded Mr. Wilcox and his team for receiving recent awards for budgeting and financial reporting. She also congratulated Jordan Principal Tom Sherwood, a doctoral student at Brigham Young University, for receiving a School Leadership Award from the university’s Educational Leadership and Foundation’s Department.
Mr. Steve Wrigley reported on attending CSD’s Arts Consortium meeting, the audit meeting, and a Town Hall for patrons. He said he attended the musicals of all five CSD traditional high schools, and commented on Jordan High’s new Medical Innovations Pathways program. He also remarked on how the community came together in the aftermath of the car accident involving Corner Canyon students.
Mrs. Nancy Tingey said she attended the musicals of all CSD high schools and a lunch for the Brighton feeder system. She mentioned that the Canyons Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform at the January meeting of the Utah School Boards Association.
Mrs. Amber Shill said she attended the production of “West Side Story” at Corner Canyon High. She was on the committee that planned the new-member workshop for the Utah School Boards Association. She also remarked on how the fatal accident affected all parts of the District, and how the community seems to band together to give aid to those who need it most. She mentioned various holiday projects undertaken by schools, including a Festival of Tree entry by Brighton to help a student with cancer.
Mr. Robert Green also mentioned the tragedy involving Corner Canyon High students. He said it’s been an honor serving on the Canyons Board of Education.
Board President Sherril Taylor remembered the Corner Canyon students who passed away in the car accident. He expressed concern for their families and friends. He also bid a fond farewell to Green, and thanked the Sandy Police for providing security at the meeting.