Budget Addresses Shortfall, Restores Instructional Days, Maintains Class Size
The Board of Education approved a $303 million 2011-2012 budget that restores five instructional days and addresses a 3 percent decrease in state money and a 26 percent decrease in federal money by shifting existing money from buildings to operations as allowed under a new law.
The budget assumes continued funding for seven professional development days and step and lane increases on the teacher salary schedule; however, these items are still under negotiations with the teachers association. The budget includes maintaining class sizes at the current level. It also includes $1 million in cuts, including eliminating funding to schools for CSIP and reductions in District Office costs.
Following a public hearing, the Board voted to restore legislative interns and sweepers’ hours after Brighton High custodian Duane Chipman questioned custodians’ ability to maintain schools. Canyons Education Association President Ross Rogers questioned why the budget contained $1.8 million for a new high school that isn’t yet open. Canyons Chief Financial Officer Keith Bradford said the money is a set aside for needs as the district prepares to open the school, and that unspent money would be used to mitigate possible budget cuts next fiscal year.
Board members praised the budget as remarkable for putting students first, maintaining class size, personnel, and tax levies, addressing salary steps and lanes and insurance increases, and adding teacher professional development in math despite a prolonged economic downturn.
To view the budget, please click here.
Canyons To Offer Online High School
The Board approved the July 15 launch of Canyons School District’s Online High School, a marketplace of educational offerings in core subjects as well as Advanced Placement courses, online laboratories, world languages, make-up credits, and possibly, concurrent enrollment. The Online High School will be available to students inside and outside of Canyons School District. Students can take up to two credits in the first year via the Online High School, to free up their schedules for arts or other specialty areas, or allow them to get ahead on preparing for college and careers or recover missed credits. The courses are expected to be offered to students at no charge, and be taught by Canyons teachers, who would receive additional pay for their work and provide tutoring by phone, text or e-mail. Canyons already offers some online courses to adult students and youth in custody.
The Online High School comes under a new state law allowing online school providers to receive state per-student money. For details, click here and select Item 3B.
Architects Exhibit Designs, Color Schemes for Five School Projects
Architects exhibited designs, renderings and color schemes for the new high school in Draper, Butler and Albion middle schools, and Midvale and Sandy elementary schools in a public open house. The five projects represent the first phase of the $250 million bond voters approved one year ago to improve Canyons District schools. The District in April broke ground on the new high school, and is planning groundbreaking ceremonies for Butler Middle School and Midvale Elementary in August. Renovation work on Albion Middle and Sandy Elementary began this month. The renderings will be posted at www.canyonsdistrict.org.
The Board approved the negotiated agreement with the Canyons Education Support Professionals Association, and voted to purchase a house and property adjacent to Ridgecrest Elementary to improve traffic safety.
The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the May 17 minutes; purchasing bids; Board hires and terminations; May financial reports; the Alta High cell tower agreement; home school affidavit; and administrative appointments. The Board also approved student overnight travel for Alta AP Art History, Boys Basketball, Dance Company and Volleyball; Brighton Boys Baseball; CTE DECA; the Hillcrest Shakespeare Team; and the Jordan High Dance Company, Girls Soccer, and Girls Volleyball team.
The Board voted to discuss a curriculum proposal in the next meeting’s study session.
The Board recognized the following students and employees for outstanding achievement:
Nate Edvalson, Union Middle School counselor, named Counselor of the Year by the Utah School Counselor Association
Mary Bailey, Canyons Executive Director of K-16 Student Achievement in High Schools, named Administrator of the Year by the Utah Association for Career and Technical Education’s Guidance Division
Nancy Lunak, Canyons Work-Based Learning Coordinator, recipient of the Carl Perkins Award for Service from the Utah Association for Career and Technical Education’s Guidance Division
Anthony Cheng, Midvale Middle School student and fifth-place national winner in the National Geographic Bee and picked to represent Utah in the national MATHCOUNTS competition
Midvale Middle School MATHCOUNTS Team for competing at the state competition
Eastmont seventh-grade and Indian Hills Middle School eighth- and ninth-grade intramural soccer teams, which won the inaugural districtwide Middle School Intramurals Soccer Tournament
Brighton Boys Tennis Team, 5A State Champions
Alta Boys Soccer Team, 5A State Champions
Alta Girls Lacrosse and Brighton Boys Lacrosse, High School State Champions
Brighton Boys Soccer Team, recipient, inaugural Superintendent’s Award of Distinction for Demonstration of Exemplary Character
Five employees spoke on behalf of hall monitors, who they said wear many hats to help students and provide school security, and urged the board to keep hall monitors a full-time position. President Tracy Cowdell said the Board has no intention of changing the status of the hall monitor position.
Four residents from the Galena Hills subdivision in Draper urged the Board to draw their neighborhood in the boundary of the new high school in Draper as they continue deliberations on districtwide boundary proposals. They were concerned about maintaining a sense of community within Draper.
Three Canyons Education Association members urged the Board to maintain negotiated agreements they feel give them a voice in policy matters. One was hopeful the CEA and Board would be able to come together, but feared the Board may look to retirement funds to balance the budget. Chief Financial Officer Keith Bradford said retirement funds would not be used in such a manner.
Two parents of students with special needs said they wanted to learn more about state budget cuts to special education and how they would affect programs and staffing.
Canyons Education Support Professionals Association President Gary Martensen thanked the Board and the negotiating teams for coming to an agreement on behalf of employees. He said he felt confident that the Board will not cut hall monitors. Cowdell praised him for his hard work.
Michael Hauptman, Midvale Elementary patron, presented an 82-signature petition to remain in the Midvale Elementary boundary as the Board deliberates boundary options.
Ross Rogers, CEA President and Canyons elementary education technology specialist, thanked the Board for asking the teachers union to come back to the negotiating table, and said the CEA is willing to do so. He requested the District negotiations team include a person authorized to sign off on agreement to make negotiations more efficient.
To listen to patron comments, please click here and select the June 21 Agenda, Item 7.
Mont Millerberg thanked those who put together the budget for their hard work.
Paul McCarty recognized Canyons Facilities Director Rick Conger and Crescent View Middle Principal Greg Leavitt for finding an economical way to close many classrooms to promote a quieter learning environment.
Vice President Sherril Taylor recognized Alta, Hillcrest and Jordan high schools for receiving the School Sportsmanship Award from the Utah High Schools Activities Association.
President Cowdell praised the passage of the budget, noting such action is the Board’s most important vote of the year. He lamented more patrons did not come to listen to the budget, and thanked Chipman for his public input, noting it resulted in an immediate adjustment.
Kevin Cromar attended the Art Consortium meeting, and noted elementary bands would be eliminated, but string programs retained in elementaries because of instructor turnover. The consortium is looking at creating a mariachi band in Midvale. He praised Federal and State Programs Director Karen Sterling for securing a Native American art grant. He reported the Utah School Boards Association’s Legislative Committee’s legislative priorities include restoring Social Security and retirement and increasing state per-student funding. He expressed concern about a proposal to replace the CRT end-of-level test with adaptive testing, and a state proposal to adopt a differentiated diploma because it might conflict with Canyons’ Advanced and Honors diplomas. He thanked the Board for the honor of representing the Board at the 100th Jordan High commencement.
Kim Horiuchi thanked Brighton High School for hosting the Board meeting. She thanked Brighton and Entrada Adult High School for including her in their commencement ceremonies, which she called the best part of being a Board member. She thanked Superintendent David Doty for creating the Superintendent’s Award of Distinction and presenting it at the Brighton commencement. She praised Dr. Doty’s choice to give it to the Brighton Boys Soccer Team, and said she hopes the award becomes a commencement tradition.
Steve Wrigley agreed commencements are a highlight for Board members, and attended the South Park Academy graduation at the Utah State Prison. He thanked teachers for working with the Board on the budget.
The Board met in closed session to discuss the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual; pending or reasonably imminent litigation; collective bargaining; and the purchase, exchange or lease of real property.
Naomi Damron Named Canyons Teacher of the Year
Congratulations to Quail Hollow Elementary teacher Naomi Damron, named the 2011 Canyons School District Teacher of the Year. Ms. Damron is being honored for her individualized instruction and high expectations for students and for inspiring children for 30 years. Ms. Damron will be nominated for State Teacher of the Year honors, which is part of the National Teacher of the Year program. The Board also recognized 44 Teachers of the Year named at each Canyons school. Teacher of the Year prizes are sponsored by the South Jordan Sam’s, LaCaille, Real Salt Lake, Wasatch Baskets, and the Firehouse Car Wash.
New Alta, Jordan Valley Principals Announced
Fidel Montero, Assistant Principal of Timpview High School since 2006, has been named the new principal of Alta High School. He replaces Mont Widerberg, who retired in March 2011. Veteran principal and educator Raymond Jenson has been leading Alta in the interim.
Mark Donnelly, Canyons Coordinator of Speech, Language and Hearing Services since 2009, will be the new principal of Jordan Valley School next school year. He replaces Mark Riding, who is retiring.
Both appointments are effective July 1.
Boundary Committee Submits Recommendations
The Boundary Steering Committee submitted revisions for middle and high school boundary options and one preferred option for elementary schools based on community input. The Committee read input submitted by 1,472 patrons using the online input form. The Committee also dialogued with 288 patrons at eight open houses and one meeting to address special education services. Board President Tracy Cowdell said the Board will discuss the recommendations in June.
Ten patrons from neighborhoods in Sandy and Draper spoke to the Boundary proposals. Patrons in the Sandy neighborhood, bordered by 9400 South and 9800 South, and Highland Drive and 2300 East, urged the Board to keep neighborhood students at Granite, Albion and Brighton. They presented a petition with 55 signatures. Draper residents living west of I-15 want to be included in boundaries for the new high school and Crescent View or Indian Hills middle schools, rather than have their children spend an hour on the bus to Mount Jordan Middle and Jordan High School. They said they supported the District’s $250 million bond because it would put a new high school in their community. They presented a study about how long bus rides affect children, and a petition with 60 signatures and said more would be coming.
To hear patron comments, click here and select item 3C.
Budget Information Presented
Chief Financial Officer Keith Bradford presented budget information showing a deficit as high as $11.3 million. The shortfall is largely due to a $3.7 million drop in state funding and the restoration of five furlough days used this year to save $3.5 million. It also accounts for costs of funding steps and lanes ($3.8 million) on the salary schedule and all seven professional development days – high and above the state’s average of 1.5 professional development days funded by Utah school districts – at a cost of $3.6 million.
Bradford noted there may be a way to address, in the coming year only, the gap between revenues and expenditures under a new law that caps school districts’ abilities to increase local tax levies. Canyons could combine some levies, and decrease the capital levy to remain revenue-neutral, to accomplish two goals: 1) give the Board more headroom under the levies cap in the future; and 2) shift more than $9 million from the capital, or buildings, fund to the general operating fund for the coming fiscal year.
The Board of Education will discuss the budget in the next Board meeting. The new budget year begins July 1.
Silver Mesa Lottery Upheld
After meeting with parents and weighing their concerns, the Board voted to uphold the second lottery determining which students would enter Silver Mesa Elementary’s Dual Immersion program. Board members praised colleague Steve Wrigley for listening to his constituents and exploring alternatives with them.
The Board recognized Brookwood Elementary student Isabella Curatolo, who won National Award of Merit at the National PTA Reflections Contest for her watercolor titled, “Together, we can,” and showed a congratulatory video message from National PTA President Chuck Saylors. Two other Canyons students -- Erin Kaseda of Midvale Middle (Literature), and Zoe Woolsey of Oak Hollow Elementary (Photography) -- also won state Awards of Excellence to advance to the National PTA Reflections Competition.
The Board also recognized the following students who excelled at the Canyons Art Show: Middle School Award of Excellence: Melissa Paulsen, “Italian Tea Party,” and Noel Hoffman, “A Rural Afternoon,” Crescent View; Paola Ramirez, untitled, Albion; Hannah Peterson, “Mask,” Midvale. Middle School Best in Show: Autumn Bate, “2D,” Butler; and Adriann Allan, “3D,” Crescent View Middle. High School Awards of Excellence: Erin Hunt “Mtalimansa” and “Snow Day,” Alta; and Tri Lam, “Just a Girl,” Hillcrest.
State PTA Reflections Winners Are: Honorable Mention: Photography, Elizabeth Walker, Brookwood Elementary; Theater, Melinda Schwendiman, Willlow Canyon Elementary. Awards of Merit: Dance, Carter Williams, Quail Hollow Elementary; Music Composition, Roxanne Bartee, Albion Middle; Three-Dimensional Art, Michaela Sivertsen, Alta High; Theater, Chandler Carr, Bellview Elementary, Heidi Schwendiman, Eastmont Middle, and Abigail Slama-Catron, Altara Elementary.
One patron addressed the Dual Immersion lottery at Silver Mesa. Eight teachers expressed concerns about removing three of 25 negotiated policies on advisory committees and student discipline from the negotiations process because the Board contends those policies are outside the realm of working conditions. Teachers said they want to preserve their voices and employee morale, and noted they are the ones on the District’s front line. Others asked the Board to not balance the budget by making teachers disproportionately bear potential cuts, and instead urged them to cut unnecessary expenditures.
Board president Tracy Cowdell thanked Canyons Education Association President Tony Romanello for his comments and leadership in the District’s transition, and for maintaining a friendly yet healthy tension with the Board of Education during his tenure.
To hear patron comments, click here and select item 5E.
The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the April 26 minutes, purchasing bids, summer capital construction/repair projects, Board hires and terminations, April financial reports, CSIP plans, fund balance commitments, Perkins Local Plan, bell schedule amendment, Policy GBAC – Criminal Background Checks, establishment of a School Safety Task Force; home school affidavit; and administrative appointments. The Board also approved student overnight travel for Alta Boys and Girls Soccer, Cheer, Drill, Girls Soccer, and Student Government; Brighton Boys Basketball, Dance Company and Shakespeare Team; and Jordan High Girls Tennis.
Superintendent David Doty reported on his visit to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, and said he is scheduling dates for tolerance training in schools. He traveled to Los Angeles to view the center’s production of Horizon Line, which depicts what causes some students to embrace hateful acts, and visit Hillcrest and Brighton students competing in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. He praised the District’s working relationship with CEA President Romanello.
President Cowdell thanked Bradford for his budget presentation. He thanked Romanello for his service, advocacy for teachers, and friendship. He thanked teachers for expressing their opinions, and invited them to come more often to Board meeting. He said the Board will discuss the 2013-2014 boundary recommendations in a study session in June, and invited parents to provide feedback to the Board via e-mail.
Kim Horiuchi attended the Recreation Board meeting and likes the idea of bringing a Lego League event, in partnership with the University of Utah, to Canyons. She talked about new legislation requiring all sporting organizations to be trained to recognize and treat concussions. She attended the Cottonwood Heights town meeting about the park at Mountview Elementary, which is nearly torn down, and called the park to replace it a perfect example for a city-District partnership. She enjoyed the opportunity to speak at the Butler Middle School Career Fair.
Kevin Cromar thanked teachers for attending the Board Meeting. He praised the Board’s approval of a School Safety Task Force, and noted the Utah School Boards Association is offering an earthquake emergency preparedness workshop next spring. He asked Board members to start thinking about legislative priorities for next year to present to USBA. He said USBA is gathering school board best practices, and recommends Canyons submit Hillcrest students’ space shuttle experiment to the USBA for its “Telling Your Story” convention theme.
The Board discussed employee volunteer guidelines allowing employees to volunteer at the schools where they work so long as the work is significantly different from employment duties in accordance with labor laws. It discussed meeting June 21 at 5 p.m., holding no Board Meetings in July, and scheduling a daylong Board retreat, tentatively Aug. 2.
The Board met in Closed Session to discuss the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual; pending or reasonably imminent litigation; collective bargaining; and the purchase, exchange, or lease of real property.
Boundary Options Presented; Public Input Sought
The Board received proposed boundary options from the Boundary Steering Committee released the options for a three-week public input period. The Board last September established the Committee of parents, teachers and administrators to accomplish three goals: create a master plan for elementary, middle and high school boundaries; address enrollment and capacity issues; and pave the way for a new high school and school grade adjustments. The Board received two proposed boundary options each for elementary, middle and high schools. It also received a rationale for each proposal and supporting school enrollment, capacity, and feeder system data. All information presented to the Board has been posted at www.canyonsdistrict.org. The public is invited to give input on the options via an online input form, and at eight public open houses, scheduled for May 4 – 12.The Committee will weigh input, adjust options where needed, and make recommendations to the Board on May 17.
Board Receives Special Program Location Recommendations
In support of a proposal made by parents and teachers, Chief Academic Officer Ginger Rhode recommends consolidating four elementary SALTA locations to two, one in the north and one in the south, in the 2013-2014 school year. The proposed SALTA locations would be Peruvian Park and Sunrise elementaries, both of which currently house SALTA. She noted the other two current SALTA locations, Alta View and Ridgecrest elementaries, also house Dual Immersion language programs and special education cluster units. On the middle school level, Dr. Rhode recommended leaving SALTA at Midvale Middle and a bus route to serve middle school SALTA students who live in Draper. The recommendations are based on public input gathered last winter on proposed options for gifted and talented program services.
Dr. Rhode also requested adding a cluster classroom at Jordan High next school year and other cluster location adjustments for the 2013-2014 school year in consideration of future space needs. Click here see these and preschool proposals, listed under "Additional Information."
Silver Mesa Dual Immersion Options Proposed
Dr. Rhode presented four options to resolve community concerns over the Dual Immersion magnet program selection process at Silver Mesa Elementary. Options include: maintaining the current placement, as requested by the principal to maintain program integrity; offering nine, in-boundary students not selected in the second lottery a place at Ridgecrest’s Dual Immersion Chinese Program, and offering similar placement to seven out-of-boundary students at other schools; and placing the nine students in Silver Mesa’s program, increasing class size and adding an aide if needed. The latter option could cut in half the number of regular first-grade classes to one, which several parents say would cause them to attend school elsewhere, Dr. Rhode reported. The options are to be presented to parents at a School Community Council meeting.
Dual Immersion participants are selected by lottery, and about half live outside the school's boundaries. Due to error, Silver Mesa’s lottery for next school year was conducted a second time. Sixteen students chosen the first time were not selected the second time, though some were accommodated in other Dual Immersion programs. The Board earlier this month asked staff to seek solutions following parent complaints President Tracy Cowdell said the Board will make a decision on the matter in the May 17 meeting.
School Safety Task Force Weighed
The Board of Education discussed creating a School Safety Task Force and whether membership should include a Board member. The task force would be established to study and make recommendations to the Board on issues including safety and security procedures, training, and agency coordination. The Board will put the matter on the Consent Agenda in the next meeting.
The new Canyons Education Foundation is hosting a Foundation Author Night Dinner to help recruit Board members, Development Officer Allison Spencer said. The Foundation also has continued existing scholarships, and funded a trip to the Shuttle Endeavour launch for Hillcrest students, whose science project was selected to fly aboard the shuttle through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Board members praised Spencer’s efforts, and discussed possible next steps, including hiring a full-time director.
The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the April 5 minutes, purchasing bids, March expense reports, Board hires and terminations, AVID contract, sewer easement for a new high school in Draper, and ratification of a Board decision regarding an employee appeal. The Board also approved overnight student travel for the following groups: Alta Football; Brighton Cheerleaders, Drill Team, and Student Body Officers; CTE FBLA, FCCLA, HOSA, and SkillsUSA; Hillcrest Cheer/Song Squad, Drill Team, and Girls Soccer; and Jordan Boys Basketball and Drill Team. The Board voted to remove from the Consent Agenda the Sandy CDA Agreement to allow more time for examination and the proposed T-Mobile cell tower at Alta High School as a procedural matter. The Board also assigned members to cover commencement exercises.
Tracy Bennett of the Alta School Community Council expressed concerns that a cell tower was on the Consent Agenda when the item had not yet been brought to the SCC or administration as per District policy.
Silver Mesa parent Janna Kimura noted that three other students were not included in the Silver Mesa lottery and should be included in the proposed resolutions. She also wants the District to consider opening a third Dual Immersion class at Silver Mesa.
Robin Cecil, parent of a Silver Mesa Dual Immersion student, said the selection process has divided the community. She is seeking information on how other districts conduct the selection process. Due to the botched lottery and a long waiting list, she wants another section of Dual Immersion.
The Board met in Closed Session to discuss the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual; pending or reasonably imminent litigation; collective bargaining; and the purchase, exchange, or lease of real property.
Board Issues $68 Million in Bonds
The Board unanimously voted to issue and sell $68 million in bonds to allow the District to break ground on all five Phase 1 building projects this summer.
The District was able to secure an extraordinarily low 3.79 percent, 20-year interest rate from J.P. Morgan on the bonds after securing the highest-possible bond rating of Aaa from Moody’s Investors, and a AA+ bond rating, the second-highest possible, from Fitch Ratings. The low interest rate saves the District about $3 million, George K. Baum & Co. bond counsel Dustin Matsumori said.
The Board cast its vote on the same day Canyons School District was featured on the front page of The Bond Buyer, a highly respected daily newspaper of public finance.
The Phase 1 building projects are rebuilds of Midvale Elementary and Butler Middle; a seismic retrofit for Sandy Elementary, a renovation of Albion Middle and the building of a new high school in Draper. All of the projects are expected to begin by the end of the summer and be completed between the summer of 2012 and the fall of 2013.
The bond issuance is the first in the $250 million bond Canyons voters approved in June 2010 to renovate or rebuild aging schools, build a new high school in Draper, and forward the District’s efforts to better prepare students for college and careers. The Board on March 1 approved a resolution to authorize the issuance of up to $70 million in bonds.
Mountview Demolition Contract Awarded
The Board awarded the contract to demolish Mountview Elementary, which has stood vacant since the former Jordan Board of Education shuttered it in 2005. The contract was awarded to Bob’s Tree Service for $145,000. Five vendors bid on the demolition. Board member Kim Horiuchi called the demolition bittersweet, as Mountview was her neighborhood school, but said the demolition is in the community's best interest. The Board is examining the possibility of partnering with Cottonwood Heights City so the District’s property and green space can be optimized for community use.