Open Space Preserved Near Butler Middle; Soccer Field to be Developed
The Board of Education unanimously approved a plan to preserve open space and pursue the development of a soccer field in front of Butler Middle School. Board Member Kim Horiuchi noted that green space and open space is in short supply in Cottonwood Heights, and that the decision to develop a field will make a difference in the community. The field development process will involve the Brighton High and Butler Middle School communities.
The development, as the Board discussed in Study Session last month, will cost $750,000. While it changes plans for additional parking, it leaves in place 450 parking stalls, which is far more than that which was available prior to the Butler Middle rebuilding project.
To listen to the discussion or view the options, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 7A.
School Security Discussed
Board Member Tracy Cowdell asked that the Board discuss school security efforts in depth following the lockdown at Sandy Elementary, in which police combed the school in search of a suspect believed to have entered the school through a propped-open door. No suspects were found. Cowdell relayed how the event affected his student. Board Member Chad Iverson suggested a discussion about security include volunteers. Vice President Steve Wrigley said he's interested in learning about security measures and potential costs to enhance them. President Taylor said the Board will discuss the matter in a closed session March 11, as allowed under the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act to prevent sensitive security information from being publicized and potentially putting children and employees at risk.
To listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2B.
Information Item: SALTA
Evidence-Based Learning-Elementary Director Amber Roderick-Landward detailed the history of the SALTA program and answered Board Members' questions on gifted education and accelerated opportunities available to students. The presentation included information about gifted student identification and recruitment; criteria for acceptance into the program; the Utah State Office of Education's four-tiered instructional model; differentiation, complexity and depth of instruction; Individualized Learning Plans for students; challenges SALTA teachers face with the new state standards; and District supports, including 57 hours of professional development and coaching provided to SALTA teachers this academic year. Board members expressed appreciation for the information and details. They hoped the information would be relayed to parents to clear up questions.
To view the presentation or listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2C.
United Way Proposal Discussion Continues
Interim Superintendent Dr. Ginger Rhode provided a history of the United Way proposal to team up with Midvale Schools. Questions remained about proposal's focus, funding and contract specifics, and how to ensure the partnership would complement, not duplicate, current efforts. Board members expressed a desire to serve the needs of students in the best way possible and ensure collaborations identify and forward educational objectives. Board President Sherril Taylor said the discussion would continue in the Board's March 11 Study Session.
To listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2A.
The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the Feb. 18 Minutes; Purchasing Bids; Home School Affidavit; and Small Capital Projects, which was approved after Facilities Director Rick Conger answered questions and noted that CSD is seeking an architect via an RFP to address HVAC issues at Peruvian Park and Midvalley elementaries. The Board also approved student overnight travel for the following high school groups: Alta Boys and Girls Soccer; Brighton Boys Basketball; CSD FCCLA students; Corner Canyon AP Art History; Hillcrest Key Club; and Jordan Football.
For details, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 6.
Interlocal Agreement, Bond Refinance Update
Interim CFO Leon Wilcox reported that the Jordan Board of Education approved the Interlocal Agreement to refinance bonds – a move that will result in a $2.4 million savings for CSD taxpayers. The refinance affects Old Jordan Debt, which resulted from the bond that voters in the former Jordan School District passed in 2003 prior to Canyons' creation. Wilcox said he expects CSD to maintain its AAA bond rating in the refinance and that interest rates are improving. Cowdell reported that the Jordan representatives called him after the Board's February discussion to say they're not behind legislation to take more money from CSD taxpayers when CSD taxpayers already are repaying 58 percent of the old bond without realizing its benefits. Horiuchi said some Jordan Board comments have suggested otherwise, but added that she hopes the interlocal agreement signals a new day for the two districts.
To listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 7B.
Canyons Education Association President Ross Rogers distributed to the Board a letter about issues teachers have faced while preparing the elementary report cards. He encouraged the Board to look into system other than Skyward to better support a mastery report card. He said he also hoped to work with the Board to give teachers paid days to prepare report cards. He also said it would go a long way with teachers for the Board to acknowledge the work teachers have done. Taylor said that while the Board typically does not respond to patron comments, he wanted to publicly thank the teachers for their work to put together the standards-based report card. He said the Board knows the report card isn't perfect, and noted the District is receiving feedback from parents in focus groups and looks forward to collaborating with teachers to ensure the report card clearly communicates student mastery of standards and skills. He asked Rogers to please let teachers know about the Board's appreciation for their efforts.
SALTA parent Ashley Janson said she has been pleased with the SALTA program and the growth her son has made each of the past three years. She said she is happy her son is part of the SALTA program.
Bruce Cutler announced his candidacy for the House District 44 seat. He said he served on the Murray Board of Education and Library Board, and that public education is his top priority. He said there are advantages to being involved in Utah's majority party, which he said would allow him to be more effective than the current representative. Cowdell noted that the Board honored incumbent Rep. Tim Cosgrove, D-Murray and House Minority Whip, with a 2013 Apex Award for Elected Official of the Year, and that Cosgrove might take exception to the notion that he has not been effective.
Craig Kitterman addressed the Board on behalf of the Sandy Club for Boys and Girls. He said the club is looking for a new location, and asked how to propose locating in the space west of Sandy Elementary. He presented the Board with a sketch of the possibility. Taylor asked him to put his request in an e-mail message to Dr. Rhode. Cowdell said the property's footprint is small and represents the limited green space available to Sandy Elementary, and with Horiuchi suggested the group also consider other options.
Draper Park Middle School parents Jen Cutler and Natalie Jenson expressed a desire for a later school start time due to traffic congestion on 1300 East and optimal learning times for adolescents. Taylor asked her to put the request in writing and submit it to Dr. Rhode. Cowdell said while research may support the proposal, school start and end times largely depend on tight District busing schedules.
Interim Superintendent Report
Dr. Rhode highlighted her participation in Dr. Seuss activities Thursday in light of Read Across America Day, which marks the birthday of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel. She said principals dressed up, some as Thing 1 and Thing 2 from "The Cat in the Hat," and that they quite enjoyed the opportunity. She noted schools served green eggs and ham for lunch. She said students remain spellbound by Dr. Seuss books, and that she hopes to participate in the event again next year.
Interim CFO Report
Wilcox thanked the Board for approving the Small Capital Projects, including Ridgecrest parking upgrades and Alta's $3 million upgrade to dance, arts, tennis court and other facilities. He said had a beneficial meeting with the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center and city officials about tennis courts and green space, and the possibility of interlocal agreements to use the space. He said the agreements would build upon those currently in place, which Horiuchi noted have been beneficial to students.
Chad Iverson said he appreciated the SALTA overview. He said there have been challenges, improvements and growth in the program. He said it is important to serve gifted students and ensure they are challenged and able to grow academically, and appreciates the Administration's continued support of the program. He said he believes parents have some legitimate concerns with the program and hoped to support them and their children, just as other children are supported districtwide. He said he wants to the Board to discuss a program, suggested by a member of the Canyons School District Education Foundation Board, that could help serve students who have dropped out of high school.
Cowdell noted he had a brief conversation with Midvale Mayor Joann Seghini about the possibility of a pool in Midvale, and that he'd like to continue discussions with her and Green and report results to the Board. He said the pool proposal would include the city, county and District, and provide a pool to the community and Hillcrest swimmers. He also noted a committee assembled by former CFO Keith Bradford to analyze possibilities for the Mount Jordan campus is continuing to meet and will report ideas, some of which he called grand, to the Board in the next few months.
Wrigley thanked the District for the program focusing on autism. He said he has attended the workshops and seen teachers in the audience learning ways they can assist students with autism. He attended Eastmont's production of "Seussical the Musical," which he said included 120 students and was well done. He said the younger students stepped up and did a great job. He visited Bell View Elementary and is impressed with the academic progress being made there, and with the progress made with the afterschool program. He invited the public to attend the Women in Action Conference at Alta High on Saturday morning. The conference on women in leadership is put on in partnership with Rutgers University. He asked Dr. Rhode about stated Skyward issues; Dr. Rhode said she was working on a budget proposal for a k-8 pilot to address some issues with the information database.
Second Vice President Nancy Tingey attended Eastmont's "Seussical the Musical" production, which she said was delightful and included talented and energetic students. She said she missed out on Dr. Seuss events at elementary schools because she is spending a lot of time at the Legislature. She said she hopes the legislative session will turn out well for schools. She thanked Chief of Staff Charlie Evans, Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards and the government relations team for their work to provide information to lawmakers. She also thanked Cottonwood Heights for its partnership with CSD.
Horiuchi congratulated Brighton Boys Basketball for defeating Taylorsville that evening in the 5A State Basketball Tournament. She thanked the Board for approving the open space for the fields. She said open space is in such short supply in Cottonwood Heights. She thanked Assistant Superintendent Bob Dowdle and Wilcox for walking the field space with her Thursday. She noted the Legislature again discussed the bill that would extend the sunset date on school equalization for Jordan District from 2016 to 2020, but again held the bill in committee. She thanked Draper constituent Kim Abbott and Cottonwood Heights representative Brian Allen for their testimony. She noted Canyons already has paid Jordan District $8.8 million in equalization since 2010, as well as $216 million of the 2003 Jordan District bond. She thanked Amber for the SALTA details, and said she hopes the pledge to provide rigorous education to all students is true. She said her child is attending SALTA at Midvale Middle, and while there is an excellent faculty and academic leadership, she fears there is a split at the school between SALTA and neighborhood students, and doesn't want anyone to fall through the cracks.
Green said he appreciated Horiuchi's comments, and that it's good to talk about the needs in the Midvale area. He said CSD is outperforming on one end of the spectrum, and underperforming on the other. He said his goal for Board service is to ensure education improves for students. He noted growth in west Midvale calls for an examination of school building space, and that solutions are needed to address the aging Midvalley Elementary. He noted the U.S. teams' successes at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, that 25 percent of the U.S. teams worked or lived in Utah, and that those team members were responsible for securing half of the U.S. teams' total medals. He suggested looking into ways to boost student interest and participation in winter sports and alerting the Utah High School Activities Association to the idea.
Taylor thanked the Board and Administration for their work at the meeting, which he said was informative. He thanked those who addressed the Board, particularly Rogers. He said the Board knows that teachers' tasks are not easy, and greatly appreciates them and their work. He said he hopes to keep an open dialogue with teachers.