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Board Meeting Summary, Feb 16, 2021

Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Mid-Year Academic Progress 

The COVID-19 health crisis and statewide closure of schools last spring resulted in more students starting the 2020-2021 school year testing below benchmark than in previous years. Since the resumption of in-person classes this fall, and addition of online supports for remote learners, CSD’s students have gained significant academic ground. Mid-year testing data show that the progress students are making in reading and math is generally comparable to that experienced in previous years, which is good news considering the collective trauma the community has experienced, says Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward. More work, however, needs to be done to accelerate academic growth in order to bring many students back up to pre-COVID learning levels. Of particular concern are disparities in achievement for English language learners, students with disabilities, and students living in poverty. More middle and high school students received D and F grades in term two than last year at this time, and the number of high school students to trigger early warning signs for falling off-track for graduating is increasing each term. Students attending in-person instruction are performing better overall than students who are learning remotely. While the health crisis is not directly comparable to other crises, such as Hurricane Katrina, Roderick-Landward says there are lessons to be learned from those experiences. Schools that focus on embedding missed content into their daily lessons typically see greater achievement gains. This has been happening in Canyons classrooms since the start of the year, and will continue, Roderick-Landward says. The District also will continue to encourage more students to attend school in person and reach out to students who aren’t engaging. High schools will provide additional opportunities for students to recover credit. 

CTE Month

The pandemic has posed unique challenges for the staff and faculty responsible for CSD’s hands-on Career and Technical Education courses, but they have adapted, reports CTE Director Janet Goble. The goal of CTE classes is to help students graduate high school with the technical skills and employability to succeed in the marketplace. That hasn’t changed. This year, though, teachers had to pivot to teaching some content online while holding small-group meetings with students on Fridays to finish projects. Industry partners mentored students at virtual career fairs, job shadows and mock interviews. Because health care centers limited visitors, nursing students faced barriers in performing their clinical hours. But CSD faculty arranged to have industry partners come to Canyons to provide supervision of in-classroom practice using sophisticated simulators. Demand for CTE courses and pathways continues to be high, and Canyons is considering adding more training options, including pharmacy technician, medical manufacturing and drone operator programs. 

School Fees

A proposed school fee schedule for secondary students for the 2021-2022 school year was presented to the Board of Education. The Board will continue discussing the proposed fee schedule. The District plans to notify parents about the proposed feeds, and internal auditors are reviewing the fees and associated costs for compliance, said Accounting Director Gary Warwood.

Legislative Update

External Affairs Director Charlie Evans and Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards updated the Board on proposed bills being debated in the 2021 General Session of the Utah Legislature, now in its fifth week. The public can subscribe to a daily tracker of education-related bills by going to the Canyons District website. This legislative session ends March 5. 

Graduation Assignments

Each member of the Board of Education accepted assignments to attend graduation ceremonies of Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon, Diamond Ridge, Hillcrest, and Jordan high schools. Board members also attend the year-end ceremonies for Entrada Adult High School and Jordan Valley School, Canyons’ school for students with severe disabilities. 

USBA Report

Board member Mont Millerberg presented information about the events and activities of the Utah School Boards Association.

Policy Updates

Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen presented an update on a policy governing CSD employees who seek and gain public office. The Policy Committee also recommends policies about the kindergarten program and school community contests and special programs be deemed obsolete.

Recognitions

The following administrators were recognized for their achievements and contributions to Canyons School District:

  • Brian McGill for being named the Utah High School Principal of the Year of the Utah Association of Secondary School Principals
  • Jordan High Principal Wendy Dau and Brighton High Principal Tom Sherwood for receiving Outstanding Administrator of the Year Awards from the Utah Music Educator Association.

Student Travel

Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins presented options to safely hold such student activities as dances and student travel for high school students.  A plan could be created to follow COVID-19 protocols, he said.

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including minutes from the Feb. 2, 2021 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; minutes from the Feb. 9, 2021 meeting; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; January financial reports; and a District Administrative hire. 

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Safety is chief among the reasons that Canyons District is pivoting to online learning for all students on Wednesday, Feb. 17, when a winter storm is expected to pound the Wasatch Front, Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins told the Board. The Superintendent said the Administration did not want employees or buses to be on the road in dangerous conditions before the time recommended by UDOT. Instructions about the day’s remote-learning activities will be sent by schools and individual teachers, he said. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox thanked bus drivers for their work in the winter weather.

Board Member Reports

Ms. Amber Shill congratulated Brighton High Accadians for their top five finish at the UHSAA 5A Drill Team Championships. She noted that teachers have already started sending work to students for the remote-learning day. 

Ms. Amanda Oaks discussed parent input on the four-day week with Fridays set aside for independent study and teacher preparation.

Mr.  Steve Wrigley noted the organization of the Canyons District COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic and asked his Board members to consider the length of Board meetings.

Ms. Holly Neibaur also discussed the four-day learning schedule, thanked Dr. Roderick-Landward for her presentation on student achievement and learning, and congratulated Alta High Principal Dr. Brian McGill for winning Utah High School Principal of the Year.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold expressed appreciation for the teachers who “pushed hard” to meet student needs.  She also noted the hard work of school personnel, especially when winter weather presents challenges to school operations.

President Nancy Tingey thanked the staff for their work and wished the CSD safe travels in the winter weather.