Board Approves $198 Million FY11 Budget
Following months of deliberation, the Canyons Board of Education approved a $198 million operating budget for 2010-2011. The budget includes cost-saving measures, including five furlough days in which the entire district, including schools, will shut down, due to a $13 million revenue shortfall. It also funds steps and lanes on the salary schedule.
The Board also approved a $20.6 million capital budget. The overall budget, which includes restricted federal expenditures, totals $295 million.
The District faced a $13 million revenue shortfall due to several factors, including decreased state funding and assessed valuation, and a reduction in one-time, federal stimulus money. Increased costs included a 13.4 percent hike in required state retirement contributions.
The Board took several measures to balance the budget, including furlough days, which will save $3.5 million, and transferring to the operations budget $2 million in capital outlay funds and $4.5 million from the 10 Percent of Basic Levy. The Legislature has authorized school districts to transfer building money to their operations budgets for FY11 and FY12 in light of the economic recession.
“This was a very difficult budget year for all school districts, and also a very difficult one for us,” Board President Tracy Scott Cowdell said.
CFO and General Counsel Keith Bradford projects the District could face another $12 million revenue shortfall in the 2011-2012 budget year.
Patron Steve Van Maren asked the Board several questions about the budget, including ARRA, or federal stimulus funds and the transfer of building money to operating budgets. Board members thanked Mr. Van Maren for addressing the Board and taking the time to understand the budget.
The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the June 1 minutes; purchasing bids; May expense reports; Board hires and terminations; the Mt. Jordan Middle School bell schedule change proposal; Fund Balance commitments; and student overnight travel for Jordan High Boys’ Basketball and Alta High’s Volleyball, Madrigals, Softball, Boys’ Basketball, Debate, and AP Art History students.
Superintendent David Doty said the Administration completed its 63rd bond information presentation earlier in the day. He said he was encouraged by a new Dan Jones & Associates tracking survey that found 73 percent of Canyons District voters said they probably or definitely would vote for the $250 million tax-rate-neutral bond on June 22 (the survey of 200 voters was conducted June 10-12, 2010; the error margin is plus- or minus 7.5 percent). He thanked mayors and city councils for their support of the District and bond.
Ellen Wallace thanked Mr. Bradford for his work on the budget, and lauded the Jordan Valley and Jordan High commencement.
Kim Horiuchi praised District staff’s work to disseminate information about the Bond. She attended the Principal Search Town Meeting at Ridgecrest Elementary, and noted several parents praised Canyons’ willingness to communicate and engage in dialogue.
Kevin Cromar commended Alta High Debate Team’s advancement to national competition and reported on the District Art Consortium’s June 10 meeting.
President Cowdell noted the District’s upcoming 1-year anniversary on July 1, and thanked the staff for their work throughout the past year. He encouraged voters to study the issues and vote on Election Day June 22.
Sherril Taylor praised Mr. Bradford and his staff for the budget presentation, and congratulated Alta High’s more than 800 graduates.
Paul McCarty noted Canyons’ upcoming 1-year anniversary, and praised the District’s Communications Department for its work and Voter Information Guide.
Mont Millerberg noted that while budget cutbacks impact in the classroom, he feels better knowing there is no fat in the budget. He lauded the Hillcrest High School commencement ceremony and graduating class.
The Board met in closed session for the purposes of discussing the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual.
The Board of Education unanimously approved reducing the school year by five days in the 2010-2011 school year to help address a $13 million shortfall that is largely the result of the economic downturn. The five-day furlough is a one-time strategy to preserve jobs and maintain class sizes for the coming year. Superintendent David Doty noted that, upon talking with superintendent and school attorney colleagues throughout the country, he learned that school districts across the United States are reducing instructional days next year where authorized by the state. The furlough will affect all District employees (including the Superintendent and staff) and result in one-time savings of approximately $700,000 a day, or $3.5 million total for fiscal year 2010-2011. The eliminated school days, recommended by the District Calendar Committee of parents, teachers and administrators, will shutter all schools and District offices on the following dates: Sept. 13; Nov. 22 and 23; Feb. 14; and March 18. The days were chosen because they would be the least disruptive to student learning and could be spread throughout the year. The furlough is one of several cost-cutting strategies in the District’s $198 million budget, and is included in tentative contract agreements with the employee associations representing teachers and support personnel. The State Board of Education has authorized school districts to reduce the number of school days from 180 to 175 in the 2010-2011 school year to help balance their budgets, as long as the districts meet a required 963.5 hours of yearly instruction. Board President Tracy Scott Cowdell called the furlough an extraordinary remedy for an extraordinary circumstance. More detailed communication about the furlough days, to be distributed to parents and employees, is forthcoming.
New Midvalley Elementary Principal Named
Superintendent Doty announced Jeff Nalwalker as the new principal of Midvalley Elementary School. Mr. Nalwalker is currently Assistant Principal at Copperview Elementary, also in Canyons School District.
Student Achievement Plan Unveiled
Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ginger Rhode, along with Evidence-Based Learning, school achievement, state and federal programs, and career and technical education directors, presented Canyons’ Student Achievement Plan to the Board in Study Session. The plan addresses how the District will focus administrators, teachers, parents and students on ensuring all students are ready for college and careers by the time they graduate from Canyons high schools. Plans include aligning instruction, curriculum and assessment; teacher recruitment, support and retention strategies; and engaging communities and underrepresented groups. The five-year plan will be detailed further this summer.
Preschool Expansion Proposed
Karen Sterling, Director of State and Federal Programs; Dr. Kathryn McCarrie, Director of Special Education; and Early Childhood Education Coordinator Terri Mitchell explained a proposal to expand the preschool program in Title I schools. They said the proposed program would be funded by federal money targeted at disadvantaged populations and children who qualify for special education services.
Bond Public Hearing
Canyons voters will go to the polls June 22 to determine a $250 million, tax-rate-neutral bond proposal to modernize Canyons facilities, maximize building use and tax dollars, and invest in the future and academic innovations. Proposed projects would include rebuilding and renovating Butler, Midvale, and Sandy elementaries, as well as Albion, Butler, Crescent View, Indian Hills, Midvale and Mount Jordan middle schools; building a new high school in Draper; preparing Brighton and Hillcrest high schools to accommodate ninth-graders under the Board’s academic and grade-realignment plan; and refurbishing an elementary school in the White City area. The District has nearly $650 million in renovation needs, according to an MHTN Architects’ report. The bond would not require a tax rate increase. Canyons would keep steady the tax rate needed to repay the old Jordan District debt. As payments from the old Jordan District’s 2003 bond start to drop off, Canyons District’s new bond payments would ramp up.
In the public hearing, the bond received support from the Canyons Education Association Executive Board; the Region 17 PTA Board; Sandy City Mayor Dolan; Steve Hopkins, president of Beckstrand & Associates; Kim Steenblik of the Bella Vista Elementary School Community Council, and Amber Shill of the Butler Middle School Community Council. A few parents said they support the bond, and wondered whether Butler Middle School would be rebuilt on site or on adjacent green space, or whether students would be bused elsewhere during construction; another wondered whether a reconstructed Midvale Middle School would have a swimming pool. Two patrons questioned why Peruvian Park and Midvalley elementaries, which have several needs, are not on the project list. One resident was concerned the project list lacked specificity, and another did not like grade reconfiguration or Draper area high school plans. Two patrons were concerned about the process, stating that the election should be held in November instead of June, and a Wasatch County resident urged Canyons taxpayers to read a state audit regarding the lack of state oversight of school construction.
Student, Community Achievement Spotlighted
The Board recognized Utah State Geography Bee winner Anthony Cheng, a sixth-grader at Peruvian Park Elementary, who goes to the National Geography Bee in Washington, D.C. May 25-26, and his teacher, Marti Davis. It also spotlighted High School Art Show winners Rebecca Simmons, Hillcrest High, “Seaweed Avant I”; Felicity Nielson, Hillcrest High, “Madame Raine”; Sarah Wofman, Alta High, “On His Way From Humanity”; Denae Blosser, Jordan High, untitled metamorphosis piece; and Alexandria Varas, Alta High, “Sweet September.” Also spotlighted were Intel International Science and Engineering Fair finalists Ellie Vawdrey (Environmental Science), Ryan Baker (Earth and Planetary Science), and Albert Cui (Engineering) – all of Hillcrest High School.
Steve Carpenter, executive director of the Utah Recreation and Parks Association, presented the 2010 Outstanding Program Award to former Butler Elementary School principal Edy McGee and Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center Director Mike Peterson for their “FitKids” program.
The Board approved revisions to the Canyons’ Hazing and Bullying policy and Support Staff Development Committee policy.
New Administrators Introduced
Superintendent David Doty introduced Midvale Elementary Principal Shad DeMill, a former Midvale Elementary teacher and Jordan District school administrator; incoming Albion Middle School Principal Joanne Ackerman, a longtime Jordan District employee and the 2009 Utah Middle School Principal of the Year; and Oakdale Elementary Principal Alice C. Meridith, former Assistant Principal of Highland Village Elementary in Lewisville, Texas.
Board Action: The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes: April 20 minutes; purchasing bids; UBSCT appeals; Crescent View Middle School’s Revised LAND Trust Plan; home-school applications; FY11 Perkins Local Plan; and administrative reassignments. The Board also approved student overnight travel for Alta High Boys and Girls Soccer and Football; Brighton High Cheerleaders; Hillcrest High Drill Team and Student Government; CTE CTSO Leadership Training, HOSA, and Skills USA. The Board met in closed session to discuss the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual and collective bargaining. Information items on LAND Trust Plans and the Canyons Student Achievement plan were postponed to the next board meeting.
Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Doty noted bond information presentations – 60 to 70 will be given before Election Day – are going well. He also noted the WestEd community forum on Pathways to College would be held on Wednesday, May 5, and encouraged Board members to mark their calendars for the May 18 Retirees Banquet. He reported on the success of the May 1 Canyons District night at the Real Salt Lake game, where teachers, employees and a volunteer of the year were honored.
CFO Report: CFO and General Counsel Keith Bradford noted tonight’s bond information presentation is the 31st the District has given in the past week and a half, generally receiving positive feedback. While there are other building needs districtwide, not all could be addressed immediately due to limited resources. The District will try to address as many as possible with ongoing capital funds.
Board Reports: Ellen Wallace attended the May 1 Canyons District Night at the Real Salt Lake game. She noted this is the third bond she has been involved in in her school board tenure, and suggested also working with private donors to build schools.
Kim Horiuchi attended arts events at Midvale Middle School.
Tracy Cowdell said he was pleased with support expressed for the bond. He also hoped for a speedy recovery for Sherril Taylor, who underwent surgery this week.
Paul McCarty attended two bond presentations in Draper, and thanked Draper City and communities for their support and positive response to the proposal.
Mont Millerberg said the bond information presentation was well received by the Midvale City Council, and added Mayor Seghini hoped Salt Lake County would make Midvale City Hall an early-voting location. He also was able to spend the past week with newborn grandson.
Employees, Volunteer, Teacher of the Year Announced
The Canyons Board of Education on Tuesday announced Canyons School District’s premier employees of the year, a Volunteer of the Year, and the Canyons Teacher of the Year.
The honorees are:
For the first time, the Board recognized one Teacher of the Year for every school in Canyons School District – a talented group of professionals from which the District Teacher of the Year was selected. The District Teacher of the Year will be nominated for State Teacher of the Year honors, and all will be honored at Canyons District Night at the May 1 Real Salt Lake Game.
Bond Priorities Set
The Board unanimously approved building priorities for its proposed $250 million, tax-rate-neutral bond to come before voters June 22, 2010. The 13 priorities are:
District leaders also are working to create a 10-year plan to address additional facility needs at each school. In related news, Draper Mayor Darrell Smith wrote the Board a letterin support of its tax-neutral bond. The letter was read by Board Vice President Sherril Taylor.
Albion Middle School Principal Named
Joanne Ackerman was appointed as the new principal of Albion Middle School. Ms. Ackerman, who is Principal of West Jordan Middle School, will assume her duties in June. She replaces Larry Odom, who this fall will become an Assistant Principal at Brighton High School.
Budget Discussions Continue
The Board is discussing how to cut more than $12 million from the 2010-11 budget due to revenue shortfalls, state budget cuts, and one-time money used in the current budget year. Cost-saving measures include a possible furlough and shifting money from the 10 percent of Basic Levy to the General Fund to cover supplies and books. The Board will continue the discussion in future meetings. The budget must be set by June 30.
Professional Development, Bullying and Hazing Policy Improvements Discussed
The Board is updating its bullying and hazing policy to align with State Board of Education policy and Canyons District expectations. The proposed policy has been examined by a community task force of parents, coaches, principals and others, and includes language on cyber bullying and provisions for anonymous reporting. Board members asked questions about the draft policy details, including how to handle false reports, and praised its improvements. The Board also discussed revisions to the Support Staff Development Committee policy to reflect Canyon’s organizational structure, better align professional development opportunities for support staff and add financial oversight provisions. The Board will continue discussions on both policies.
Board Action: The Board approved two student appeals, and denied one. It approved the consent agenda, which includes: the March 30 minutes; purchasing bids; changes in summer school fees; Midvale Middle School’s LAND Trust Plan; March Hire and Termination Reports; Formation of the Joint Educator Evaluation Committee; and March Financial Statements. It also approved student travel for: Brighton High Student Government, Drill Team, Drama Productions, Dance Company and Shakespeare Team; Hillcrest High Football; and CTE FCCLA. The Board also met in closed meeting to discuss litigation and the character, professional competence or physical or mental health of an individual.
Superintendent’s Report: Superintendent David Doty talked about the May 1 Canyons District Night at Real Salt Lake, a schedule for bond information presentations and referendum rules for public agencies.
Board Reports: Kim Horiuchi attended the Butler Elementary and Butler Middle School Community Council meetings and relayed information about the bond. She also congratulated Brighton High Model UN students for success at national competition, which included the Award of Merit in the NGO Forum.
Kevin Cromar reported on workshops and performances he attended at the National School Boards Association conference in Chicago with Superintendent Doty, Mr. Bradford, and Board member Paul McCarty. He said he hoped to provide a full report in a future Board meeting. He also praised teachers of the year recognitions, and recommended recognizing one employee of the year for every department.
Mont Millerberg also praised the Teacher of the Year recognitions and teachers’ impact on society. He attended the Midvale Elementary 60th Anniversary Celebration, which he likened to a walk down memory lane.
Board Seeks $250 Million Bond; Tax Rates Would Hold Steady
The Canyons Board of Education is seeking a $250 million, tax-rate-neutral bond 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 bond proposal would keep the debt service tax rate constant over time. For example, as Canyons’ payments on the 2003 old Jordan District bond start to drop off, Canyons’ payments on the new bond would ramp up, holding debt service tax rates steady. In addition, the District anticipates using other available funds to make debt payments on the bonds to maximize borrowing power and negate the impact on the taxpayer. The money would be used for projects in elementary, middle and high schools districtwide. The bond election is set for June 22. Click here for more information.
Facilities Plan Discussed
The Board discussed the possibility of funding several projects with the proposed bond, including building a new high school in Draper; upgrading high schools; upgrading Albion, Crescent View and Indian Hills middle schools; rebuilding Midvale, Mount Jordan, and Butler middle schools; providing seismic upgrades to Sandy Elementary; upgrading or rebuilding Butler Elementary; and rebuilding Midvale Elementary and a school in the White City community. The Board is expected to finalize its project list on April 20, after which it will distribute voter information materials and hold a series of public information meetings.
Patron Comments: Bella Vista parent Lynette Speyer said full-time literacy facilitators benefit children in reading and the school community as a whole, and disagrees with the District’s decision to replace them with literacy coaches.
Resident Patty Christensen noted a $250 million bond is an awful lot of money in a tough economy and wanted to know specifics of the proposal.
Mark Johnson, speaking on behalf of an Albion parent group, is concerned about the way Principal Odom was transferred to an assistant principal position Brighton High. He said patrons felt they were not heard, and that the process was not fair to Mr. Odom or the District and would like to see it done better in the future. He also presented a letter asking the Board to reconsider the transfer.
Wendy Hawkins, Mt. Jordan Middle School, asked the Board to reinstate the cluster team leader position at her school.
Deanna Lambson, Albion PTA president-elect, complained about the way Principal Odom’s transfer was communicated to the community, and that patrons didn’t have an opportunity to voice their dismay at last week’s community meeting. She wished a letter to the community had gone further to praise Mr. Odom’s character. She requested improved future communications, and hoped to work with District to ensure the best candidate is hired as the new principal.
Board Reports: Kevin Cromar praised the sportsmanship and athleticism of the Middle School Intramurals 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament. He also praised Brighton High soccer players for receiving scholarships; Brighton’s ProStart students, who won a statewide culinary competition and who will compete on a national level, and Jordan Valley’s production of The Wizard of Oz. He reported on the Governor’s Economic Summit, where a retired economist lamented Utah’s low funding for public education. He also shared comments from a speaker admonishing school boards for lack of innovation – something the person never could project on the Canyons Board. He suggested the District examine energy-efficient building design for potential facilities upgrades.
President Tracy Cowdell praised the Board’s action on facilities and bonding. He recognized a candidate for the Board of Education in the audience, and suggested the Board invite other candidates to a meeting so the Board could get to know them.
Sherril Taylor noted the Utah High School Activities Association denied Hillcrest High’s petition to move from 5A to 4A designation in light of declining enrollment. However, he said the UHSAA created a committee to examine Hillcrest’s request, which he hoped could be realized in the next year.
Paul McCarty thanked dozens of patrons for attending the Board meeting, and hoped even more would attend in the future.