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.
Mountview Property Development Explored
The Board is examining the possibility of partnering with Cottonwood Heights City to redevelop the Mountview Elementary property, to help fund a larger auditorium at the new Butler Middle School, and to create tennis courts on city property adjacent to Cottonwood Heights Elementary. The District is taking bids now to demolish the vacant Mountview Elementary school, and is expected to present recommendations to the Board in its March 22 meeting.
Under a potential city partnership, the Mountview property could be converted into four soccer fields and other open space, which would help Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center and Salt Lake County accommodate little league football, soccer, and lacrosse during the reconstruction of Butler Middle School and provide community field space afterward. The Board will discuss costs of demolishing the building and adding sod and watering systems, and the terms of a potential partnership with the City and Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center.
Proposed Butler Middle School Designs Presented
The Board received design proposals for Butler Middle School that will be presented to the school’s Design Committee. Proposed designs include separate wings for all grades, including placing the sixth grade on the second level to address parent concerns with grade reconfiguration. The gym would have an exterior entrance leading to the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center, which provides P.E. opportunities for students. The building would contain several windows for natural light throughout. The auditorium also would have an exterior entrance and a plaza area. Parking would accommodate 420 vehicles – more than double the current parking slots. Green space would be nearly 2 additional acres larger than the current configuration, and include three regulation-sized fields for soccer and lacrosse. The auditorium would seat 1,000; Cottonwood Heights City has expressed interest in shouldering costs to make it bigger. The Board accepted the information; designs will be presented at a community meeting and solidified following public input.
Board Receives ‘Active Shooter’ Safety Presentation
The Board expressed interest in proceeding with an Active Shooter training, sponsored by the Utah School Boards Association and supported by law enforcement and emergency preparedness officials from Sandy, Draper, and Cottonwood Heights. The training, which the Board viewed in a video taken at a South Summit High School training event, involves some 200 volunteer students and faculty creating a mock emergency scenario in which a shooter opens fire in a school. The officers responding to the mock emergency are participating in S.W.A.T. training, but District and school officials also can use the exercise to improve emergency preparedness and response plans. Participating volunteers are debriefed afterward and can stop if the exercise becomes too stressful.
Special Education Classroom Needs Presented
Executive Director of Special Education Dr. Kathryn McCarrie asked the Board to prioritize space needs of special education students in bond building projects and potential boundary adjustments due to grade reconfiguration. Federal law mandates students with disabilities receive services with non-disabled peers whenever possible. Special education services may require special classroom space, such as physical therapy, adaptive P.E., or nursing services. Canyons also provides more intense special education services in cluster units placed at various schools. Dr. McCarrie suggested providing special education services in classrooms as close as possible to students’ home communities, and recommended an additional high school cluster unit. She also expressed a need to replace the Jordan Resource Center at Midvale Elementary, which serves students with serious emotional needs, and added she is negotiating to continue the service partnership with Jordan School District. She also proposed moving cluster units from either Bella Vista or Ridgecrest to Oak Hollow Elementary, and Butler Elementary clusters to a more central location such as Altara Elementary. Dr. McCarrie has provided this information to the Boundary Steering Committee to inform their recommendations.
Executive Director of Government Relations and Chief of Staff Charles Evans updated the Board on some of the 71 education bills – out of 115 introduced – that passed in the 2011 Legislative Session. His team worked with legislators to fine-tune bills including the school-grading bill and the K-3 reading bill. Lawmakers also passed a bill to eliminate districts from considering seniority in layoffs and to allow per-student dollars to transfer to public institutions from which the student receives online education. Board President Tracy Cowdell suggested looking into providing online education in a District-chartered school, which could help students earn one of Canyons’ career- and college-ready Advanced or Honors diplomas. While lawmakers funded enrollment growth, CFO Keith Bradford noted Canyons faces a reduction of up to $3.5 million in state funds because lawmakers changed the way state money is distributed to districts.
Three Cottonwood Heights residents – Woody Noxon; William McCarvill, President of CH Voters citizen advocacy group; and James A. Kromer, who has a background in investment banking – asked the Board not to participate in a proposed Cottonwood Heights CDA at the former Snowbird Racquet Club site due to financial concerns and the possibility of deferring tax dollars that could go to public education if the property were otherwise developed. President Cowdell said the City has not presented the Board with the proposal, but invited the men to return, listen and provide input should the item be placed on the agenda.
The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the March 1 minutes; student overnight travel for Alta Football and CTE ProStart; 2011-2012 school calendar modification to accommodate later secondary parent-teacher conferences and adjust compensatory and teacher development days; purchasing bids, February financial reports; home school affidavit; and February Board hires and terminations. Bids for demolition on the Mountview property will be presented to the Board next week.
The Retirement Banquet will be May 10 at Hidden Valley Country Club; Canyons District day at Real Salt Lake is Saturday, May 7, with the game at 2 p.m. and Canyons students performing at the Carnival Stage from noon to 1:30 p.m. The District also has received the highest possible bond rating of Aaa from Moody’s Investors, and a AA+ – the second-highest rating – from Fitch Ratings; Dr. Doty praised Mr. Bradford’s prudent planning to help secure the rating. Twelve schools are gearing up to pilot using Facebook for academic and communication purposes in the remainder of the school year. District officials are working to require passwords to limit the time a student or teacher can be on Facebook during the school day, and create training for teachers and students to use the this unique social media platform safely and effectively.
Mr. Bradford called the District’s Aaa and AA+ bond ratings astonishing, considering the District has operated just two years and has a limited financial history. Rating agencies cited low debt burden, healthy fund balances and well-funded pension and other post-retirement benefits for employees among reasons for the high bond rating.
Mont Millerberg recommended discussing the possibility of hosting an Active Shooter training in the April Board meeting.
President Cowdell thanked Vice President Sherril Taylor for officiating last Board Meeting in his stead while he recovered from illness. He noted next week’s meeting will last just 15 minutes, and said Board Members could attend via conference call if needed. The Board is expected to address the resolution from bond counsel and Mountview demolition bids.
Kevin Cromar attended the Eastmont production of “The Music Man,” and praised the students’ high-quality performance.
Kim Horiuchi noted the Mountview property was taken off the consent agenda to wait for demolition bids, which are expected to come before the Board next week.
Steve Wrigley spent time at Midvale Middle School, where he enjoyed interacting with students and learning about the SALTA program.
The Board met in closed session for the purpose of discussing collective bargaining and the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual.
Bond Project Timeline to Stay On Track
The Board unanimously voted to stay the course on its Phase 1 bond building schedule, targeting a fall 2013 completion date for the first five projects, by using some of the District’s capital fund balance.
The Board approved a resolution to authorize the issuance of up to $70 million in bonds, as originally planned, to enable the District to break ground on all five Phase 1 projects this summer. The five projects are the rebuild of Midvale Elementary and Butler Middle School; a seismic retrofit for Sandy Elementary, a renovation of Albion Middle School and the building of a new high school in Draper.
Instead of issuing a second round of bonds next spring, the District will use money from the capital fund balance, which is an account dedicated to building projects. The District anticipates issuing additional bonds and beginning the remaining eight projects when assessed valuation improves and when old Jordan debt begins to substantially tail off.
The plan accomplishes several goals. It keeps intact the target fall 2013 completion date for the first five projects. It allows grade reconfiguration to move forward in fall 2013 as part of the District’s college- and career-ready academic plan. It also allows the Board to keep its promise to the public not to raise its debt service levy when voters approved the $250 million bond in June 2010.
Board members noted they have been talking about addressing building issues for the past two years, and praised the plan as a well thought out solution and first step in addressing the District’s $650 million in critical building needs.
Two weeks ago, the Board discussed building schedule options for the first five bond projects after learning property values are expected to decline for the third consecutive year. Declining property values would impact Canyons’ ability to collect sufficient tax revenue from its existing debt service levy to pay for the principal and interest on the total amount of new bonds needed to proceed with its current timeline. The Board had looked at the possibility of delaying projects one year or funding one or two projects at this time.
Public Input on Middle School SALTA Reported
Chief Academic Officer and Deputy Superintendent Ginger Rhode reported public input received about the Midvale Middle School SALTA program, including questions about how changes in SALTA magnet program might impact the International Baccalaureate program at Hillcrest High. Board members discussed input regarding the magnet’s location. Other issues to be discussed include whether students should be able to continue to self-select for the program or be required to take a test first. Dr. Rhode noted middle schools next fall will offer Common Core State Standards curriculum, considered to be more rigorous, as well as introduce Common Core State Standards honors courses to offer more challenging curriculum to advanced learners.
Common Core State Standards Implementation Plan Approved
The Board approved the following timeline for implementation of the Common Core State Standards:
2010-2011: Grades K-6
2011-2012: Grades 7 and 8
2012-2013: Grade 9
2013-14: Grade 10
2014-15: Grade 11
English Language Arts
2011-2012: Grades 7 – 11
2012-2013: Grades K – 6
The State Office of Education’s implementation schedule is different. The state plans to implement the Common Core State Standards in math in grades six and nine next school year, add remaining grades kindergarten through 10th grade in 2012-2013, and Grade 11 in 2013-2014. The state plans a limited implementation of Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts beginning next school year, with full implementation scheduled by 2014-2015.
The Utah State Board of Education last year adopted the Common Core State Standards, developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governors Association, and Achieve, Inc., with support from the National PTA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The standards align with expectations of colleges and the modern workforce , clearly state what students should know and be able to do at each grade level, and give parents and teachers tools to help students stay on the college- and career-ready path.
Rique Ochoa, Alta High social studies teacher, invited the Board to attend an AP History Review with H.W. Brands, noted professor of U.S. History and two-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize, on April 2.
The Board recognized the following staff and students for their artistic, athletic and academic excellence:
District Arts Consortium Chairwoman Sharee Jorgensen
All-State Band and Jazz Band honorees
Girls Basketball Academic All-State honorees
All-State Golf honorees
Music teachers Randal Clark from Jordan High and Debra Wetzel from Oakdale Elementary for presenting at the Utah Music Educators Professional Development Conference
Hillcrest senior Samuel Watson, who earned a perfect 36 composite score on the ACT college entrance test
Butler Middle School eighth-grader Melanie Martins, whose VFW Patriotic Pen Essay was ranked in the top 20 in the nation
State Stock Market Game first-place team winners from Midvale Middle School, and second- and fifth-place team winners from Crescent View Middle School
Candidates for the 2011 Presidential Scholars Program
Kathryn Anderson, District Director of Partnerships and Community Service and recipient of Community Shares Utah’s 2011 Leadership Award
Jordan High parent Kelly Christensen, recipient of the Lt. Governor’s Civic Volunteer of the Year Award
Canyons District Homeless Education Liaison Connie Crosby, named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Utah School Counselors Association
Brighton senior Stephanie Verdoia, 2010-2011 Utah Gatorade Player of the Year for Girls Soccer; 5A State Wrestling champions
5A State Champion Brighton Boys and Girls Swim Teams
5A State Champion Alta High Girls Basketball Team
Alta Parent Shelley Morrison received special honors from Superintendent David Doty for her example of sportsmanship, kindness and civility at the championship girls basketball game.
The Board approved the consent agenda, which includes the Feb. 15 minutes; purchasing bids; volunteer report; and the Common Core State Standards implementation timeline. It also includes student overnight travel for CTE HOSA and CTE FBLA.
Superintendent David Doty praised the work of the District’s bond counsel from George K. Baum & Co. He thanked Assistant to the Superintendent Laura Minson for her work to prepare student and staff recognitions on the Board’s behalf. He also congratulated Brighton Boys Basketball for their advancement in the 5A State Tournament.
Steve Wrigley supports Mr. Ochoa’s invitation. He thanked the volunteers who have donated 87,477 hours to schools in the past six months; attended “All My Sons” play at Jordan High; met with Eastmont and Jordan High CTE teachers and was impressed with their collaboration; the Alta View SALTA program;
Kim Horiuchi thanked Brighton High for hosting Board meeting. She also thanked families and students for coming to Board meeting, and for the a opportunity to recognize their athletic, academic and artistic excellence this evening.
Kevin Cromar praised Alta girls for their Basketball State Championship and Brighton Boys Basketball for advancing in the 5A State Tournament. He also attended Butler Middle honors for Patriotic Pen Essay winner Melanie Martins. He praised the Albion Middle musical and the fact the school renovation will upgrade the sound system. He attended the Brighton High Jazz Night and the Sandy Chamber Winter Festival, where Sue Malone won the Leader in Education Award (Midvale teacher Shelley Allen and Quail Hollow Principal Marilyn Williams were nominees). He noted Utah School Boards Association concerns with a charter school funding bill and a measure to give public education oversight to the governor. He also noted Alta’s high support of the bond, and thanked Mayor Tom Pollard for his efforts.
Paul McCarty said he is pleased with the Board’s decision on the bond projects timeline, which enabled the first step in addressing critical building needs.
Mont Millerberg thanked voters for approving the $250 million bond, and views his work as a Board member as a sacred trust to ensure the money is prudently spent. He attended the Sandy Chamber Winter Festival, and noted the three Leader in Education Award nominees from Canyons each were excellent, and deserved time in the spotlight.
Vice President Sherril Taylor noted the decision on the bond timeline was a historic marker in the Board’s work to improve education students in every corner of the District. He earlier excused the absence of President Tracy Cowdell due to illness.
Board Discusses Bond Projects Timeline in Light of Economic Downturn
The Canyons Board of Education is discussing building schedule options for the first five bond projects after learning property values are expected to decline again this year. This would be the third consecutive year of property value declines, unprecedented in recent memory. Declining property values would impact Canyons’ ability to collect sufficient tax revenue from its existing debt service levy to pay for the principal and interest on the total amount of new bonds needed to proceed with its current timeline. The District also is legally bound to continue its payments on $213 million in old Jordan debt.
The Board noted it promised the public that its debt service levy would not be raised if voters approved the $250 million bond in June 2010, and remain committed to that pledge. In light of the financial projections, the Board discussed possible actions, including delaying all projects one year for a target fall 2014 completion and grade reconfiguration date; funding one or two projects at this time; or staying the course on all five projects in hopes of an economic rebound.
The five projects are: the rebuild of Midvale Elementary and Butler Middle School; a seismic retrofit for Sandy Elementary, a renovation of Albion Middle School and the building of a new high school in Draper. The current timeline would have the first five projects completed by fall 2013 to facilitate grade reconfiguration under the District’s career- and college-ready academic plan.
The Board will vote on the projects’ timeline in its March 1 meeting.
The Board decided not to take action on a proposed resolution to authorize the sale of $70 million in building bonds at this time.
Midvale Elementary Site Plan, New High School Design Approved
The Board voted to build a grades K-5 elementary school on the Midvale Middle School campus. The vote determines the site of the soon-to-be-rebuilt Midvale Elementary School will be on the nearby middle school campus, and allows students to remain in their current elementary school during construction. It also frees up the now vacant Cottonwood Heights Elementary School to be used to house Albion Middle School students during its extensive renovation project. The Board is expected to vote on the timeline of these projects in a March 1 meeting.
The Board also approved the design for the new high school in Draper. The design was adjusted by architects Sandstrom Associates to stay within budget and allow flexibility in academic programming. The design will allow for optional third gym, woodshop and auto shop, as well as other classrooms to be added now or later as needed. The Board also requested a committee be formed to examine career and technical education in Canyons School District.
Preschool Expansion Proposed
Early Childhood Administrator Terri Mitchell presented a proposal to expand preschool options for students in Canyons School District. The proposal follows a federal court case that requires special education preschool classes be integrated with regular-education students. Also, some parents are leaving Canyons for other school districts that offer preschool services. Preschool currently is offered to special education students at five locations, and to regular-education students at Sandy Elementary. Options include status quo; offering preschool at regionally accessible locations and add six classrooms; or putting at least one classroom in each elementary (for details, visit http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/canyons/Board.nsf/Public, and click on Study Session Item 1B). Tuition for non-disabled students largely could fund the program. The Board will discuss the proposal in a future meeting.
Three patrons offered comments to the Board regarding SALTA at Midvale Middle School and career and technical education. Their testimony is posted at http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/canyons/Board.nsf/Public (click on Feb. 15 agenda, then item 4C).
The Board approved the consent agenda, which includes: Feb. 1 minutes; purchasing bids, January financial reports; home school affidavit report; CAB cell tower lease agreement; foreign exchange students, second semester; Professional Development Academy; moratorium status for elementary schools in the 2011-2012 school year; and student overnight travel for Alta High AP Studio Art and Track & Field, CTE DECA, and the SSEP National Conference and Space Shuttle Launch.
The Board met in closed session or the purpose of discussing the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual.
Vice President Sherril Taylor excused President Tracy Scott Cowdell, who was receiving the Outstanding Elected Official Award at Sandy City’s Appreciation Awards Banquet. He thanked Sandy police officers for providing Board security.Steve Wrigley attended Jordan High's concerto night and praised the talent there. He attended the Butler Middle School Town Hall Meeting on the building project, and two SALTA community meetings. He thanked the staff and parents for their attendance and feedback. He visited with the PTA and School Community Council at Oakdale Elementary and served as a substitute crossing guard. He attended an SEOP meeting with his child at Eastmont Middle School, and found it interesting to discuss ACT EXPORE Test data in that context. He also met with the Evidence-Based Learning leaders and received an orientation from them.