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.
Capital Facilities Priorities and Bonding
New Principals Announced
Board Discusses Capital Facilities Priorities and Bonding
CFO Keith Bradford in Study Session presented a five-year Facility Plan that also identifies possible funding sources. Dustin Matsumori, representing the banking firm George K. Baum and Company, outlined research regarding the District’s ability to assume debt to pay for school construction and renovation. He told Board members that declining property-value assessments, coupled with the District’s existing debt, adversely affect the amount the District could pursue without a tax increase. The Board was told that, given the economic climate and current debt service, the District could seek approximately $185 million without an immediate tax increase. Those factors also impact the timing of the bond issuances, as well. The Board asked for the preparation of a resolution signaling intent to seek a June bond election.
In a reconvened study session that followed board meeting, Mr. Bradford suggested facility improvements to prepare for grade reconfiguration. He also identified schools that need seismic upgrades, air conditioning systems and classroom-renovation work.
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The Board approved the creation of 15 Achievement Coach positions that would assist in the teaching of literacy and numeracy in elementary schools. The reconfigured positions will supplant the current Literacy Facilitator positions. The District, which is facing an $11.7 million revenue deficit, was subsidizing the 29 positions with $2.8 million annually. The Board instructed the Administration to ensure all the current Literacy Facilitators are offered positions as Achievement Coaches or classroom teachers.
In Study Session, Superintendent David Doty referred the Board to a proposal to alter the role and function of the District’s Literacy Facilitators. Under a plan by the Evidence-Based Learning Department, the 29 Literacy Facilitator positions, which were funded last year by one-time monies, would be dissolved.
The District then would hire a minimum of 15 Achievement Coaches to be utilized in the elementary schools. Dr. Doty said the proposed change is both fiscally and academically strategic for the District, which faces an $11.7 million revenue deficit. The current positions cost the District an additional $2.8 million than is reimbursed by the state, and the new positions are designed to support and assist schools in maximizing the effective use of achievement data to inform student instruction in language arts and mathematics. Human Resources Director Steve Dimond explained the process the District will follow to ensure that Facilitators who are not hired in the new positions will be offered teaching jobs that are expected to become available through attrition. Several Board members told the Administration they wanted to make sure jobs were preserved. Board Member Kevin Cromar voiced support for maintaining Literacy Facilitators and questioned if one person would be able to effectively serve two schools in both literacy and numeracy. He also stated he was concerned the District Administration had not explored various financial avenues, such as the use of Capital Outlay funds, to pay for the positions.
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Dr. Doty announced the appointment of two new Canyons District Principals:
Shad DeMill is the new principal of Midvale Elementary. Mr. DeMill is currently the Assistant Principal of Majestic Elementary in Jordan District. He replaces Karen Kezerian, who was transferred to Edgemont Elementary.
Alice C. Meridith is the new principal at Oakdale Elementary. Ms. Meridith is presently the Assistant Principal of Highland Village Elementary in Lewisville, Texas. She replaces Ruth Peters, who was transferred to Peruvian Park Elementary.
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Board Action: The Board approved the consent agenda, which included the Feb. 16 and March 2 minutes; purchasing bids; financial reports for February; February hires and terminations; the graduation-venue schedule; administrative appointments; home school applications; overnight travel requests for Hillcrest’s volleyball team, Brighton’s culinary-arts team, and District FBLA and DECA groups; the IRS-required documents to provide a 403 (b) for employees; and a milk-substitute policy for lunchrooms.
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Patron Comments: Denise Orme, leadership coordinator at Canyons District Office, commented on the proposal to utilize Achievement Coaches in elementary schools instead of Literacy Facilitators. She said principals signaled they were in favor of the proposal at a meeting held to discuss the suggested position.
Teacher Barbara Blaser thanked the Board for attention given to programs for gifted and talented students. She told the Board every elementary school in the District benefits from having a full-time Literacy Facilitator.
Teacher Susan Jones voiced concern with the proposal to alter the job descriptions of Literacy Facilitator.
Monica Patch, whose children attend Bella Vista, told the Board how much the Literacy Facilitators have helped her children.
Betty Shaw, Region 17 PTA vice president, thanked Board members for their hard work and expressed support for their decisions.
Teacher Deborah Stuart expressed support for keeping intact the Literacy Facilitator position at each elementary school.
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Kevin Cromar recognized Brighton High School students for excelling in winter sport programs and being named to Academic All-State teams. He lauded Eastmont for the “12 Dancing Princesses” production, and reported on his attendance at several meetings, including one about Brighton’s attendance policy.
Sherrill Taylor told the Board several constituents have requested a date and time change for the traditional Lagoon Day, which often conflicts with high school graduation ceremonies.
Paul McCarty reported on his attendance at the conference of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Mr. Millerberg expressed appreciation for the District’s Home and Hospital program.
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Study Session: Board President Tracy Cowdell thanked Canyons District Government Relations Director Charlie Evans and his team for their expertise and diligence during the 2010 Legislature. Mr. Evans reported to the Board myriad issues debated during the session, including the state budget, ongoing education funding and intra-district and statewide equalization. Mr. Evans told the Board he believed the session was successful for Canyons District. The Board also coordinated speaking assignments for upcoming graduation ceremonies with Mary Bailey, the K-16 Director for High Schools.
More than three-fourths of Canyons residents surveyed said they would support a hypothetical $200 million bond with no tax increase to repair school buildings in Canyons School District, a Dan Jones & Associates survey shows.
Of 402 registered voters surveyed, 41 percent said they definitely would support a $200 million bond that would not raise taxes. Another 35 percent said they probably would support such a bond, according to the survey, conducted Feb. 16-23. Seven percent said they probably would oppose such a bond, and 11 percent said they definitely would oppose such a bond. Two percent said it depends, and 3 percent didn’t know. Dr. Jones called the level of support “off the charts.” The survey has a plus- or minus 5 percent error margin. For full details, click here.
The Board could seek $255 million in building bonds without a tax increase, CFO and General Counsel Keith Bradford said. The Board also could use $50 million from its capital outlay fund balance to take on a total $305 million in projects, also without a tax increase. An MHTN Architects study found Canyons schools require $647 million in renovations. The Board expressed desire, based on Dr. Jones’ recommendation, to seek a bond in June. It began discussions on building priorities, including seismic and air-conditioning upgrades, school rebuilds and a new high school in Draper to enable grade reconfiguration, and plans to firm up a three-phase plan by month’s end. The Board must adopt a bond resolution by April 8 in order to set a June bond election.
Canyons School District may face up to an $11.7 million revenue cut, depending on legislative action, Mr. Bradford reported. The Board received information about several potential cuts and cost-saving measures, including administrative furloughs. The Board will continue to study the issues over the next several months, with a legal budget deadline falling June 30.
Government Relations Director Charlie Evans reported on HB292 (Equalization of Funding for Divided School Districts). He also discussed bills that would shift taxes to help school district operation budgets and equalization, the latter of which presents a twist: Canyons District under the current equalization law would pay $2 million less, or a total of $1.4 million, next year, and Granite would become a recipient, because of the change in districts’ assessed valuation. Currently, all Salt Lake County school districts pay for equalization, with Jordan District the only district receiving the money.