Board Meeting Summary, July 13, 2021

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

School Improvement Funding

Acting as the Local Building Authority of the Canyons School District, the Canyons Board of Education held a public hearing on the proposed issuance of $38 million in lease-revenue bonds to help pay for the construction of the Peruvian Park and Glacier Hills elementary school projects. To retire the bonds in 21 years, the District will use capital outlay funds, according to the proposal’s parameters resolution. A bond sale is scheduled for Aug 10, with a potential closing on Aug. 24. The Board also made minor changes to the bylaws of the LBA, which was created so the District could issue the lease-revenue bonds. The funding mechanism is helping Canyons complete projects promised to the community in 2017. Unexpected and sudden increases in construction costs at the Alta, Brighton and Hillcrest projects required the use of more of the funds from the issuances from the 2017 voter-approved general-obligation bond than originally budgeted. During the public hearing, patron Steve Van Maren noted the interest rate, the time it will take to retire the bonds, and the associated costs with opening a school. 

Glacier Hills Mascot Design

The official logo and colors of the new Glacier Hills Elementary were presented to the Board of Education. Blue and white will be the main colors of the school, which will house the Edgemont and Bell View school communities when it opens next fall. Canyons District Graphic Artist Jeff Olson did the artwork of the Yeti, Glacier Hills’ mascot, in consultation with a community advisory group. This fall, the community will name the Yeti in preparation for the creation of a school vision and mission and a public unveiling of the mascot’s name and graphic likeness. 

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes for the June 22, 2021 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; purchasing bids; student overnight-travel requests; hire and termination reports; and June Financial Reports. 

Federal Funding

Canyons District’s allotment of the funds provided to Utah schools through the American Rescue Plan ESSER III is $21,780,120, Business Administrator Leon Wilcox said. The plan for the expenditure of the funds, which will primarily be spent during the 2023 and 2024 school years, must gain approval from the Canyons Board of Education. The Utah State Board of Education has urged school districts to complete a needs assessment, especially given the challenges of operating schools during the COVID-19 year, so the ESSER III funds can be appropriately targeted on pressing academic needs. This needs assessment will be completed by a team in the CSD Instructional Supports Department. Canyons’ ISD Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward said CSD researchers are reviewing student-achievement data to inform recommendations on the learning- and instruction-related sections of the plan. Wilcox also said 20 percent of the ESSER III funds should be spent on accelerated learning. Districts that receive the funds also must create a plan for a safe return to in-person instruction. While developing the plan, districts are asked to engage with the stakeholders and provide an opportunity to the public to give feedback and input. An early draft ESSER III budget, presented to the Board, includes additional funding for Canyons Online, CSD’s newly launched online-learning program; extra supports to aid the physical and mental health and safety of students; teaching positions to focus on interventions for struggling students; summer and afterschool programs; tutoring; computer field technicians; Chromebooks; and curriculum and professional development. A second reading for this proposal, which will include more detail, is scheduled for Aug. 3.  

Recognitions

The following were recognized for their achievements:

  • Three CSD teachers who won the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Award for Excellence in Arts Education Award.  The teachers are: Brian Cox, Indian Hills Middle; Mindy VanDeGraaff, Willow Springs Elementary; and Marie Smith, Crescent and Oakdale elementaries. Cox, who won in 2020, received the award for musical instruction. VanDeGraaff, a 2021 winner, earned the honor for elementary visual arts instruction. Smith, also a 2021 honoree, was named the recipient in elementary music instruction. 

Strategic Planning

Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins updated the Board on the progress of the strategic plan, including the various ways the District plans to engage the public for input.

Patron Comments

  • Lisa Bruins encouraged the District to avoid using federal ESSER III funds for social-emotional learning programs, which she says are rooted in Critical Race Theory philosophies. 
  • Lauri Egbert asked Board to ensure transparency on curriculum and instruction in CSD.  She stated that CSD should avoid programs or curriculum that may include Critical Race Theory concepts.
  • Brynn Whitchurch also encouraged the Board to avoid spending ESSER III funding on programs that would have any tie to Critical Race Theory.
  • Christina Morselewski also asked the Board to avoid Critical Race Theory ideas in classes and programs. She noted personal experiences with CSD schools and encouraged the Board to use ESSER III funds on academic programs.
  • Steve Van Maren expressed his disappointment that masks will not be required in schools because children under a certain age cannot be vaccinated. 

USBA Report

Board member Mont Millerberg presented information from the Utah School Boards Association, including the upcoming participation in the delegate assembly. 

Superintendent and Business Administrator Reports

  • Superintendent Robins reported on attending the CSD Facility Department’s annual department meeting. He noted the department’s work throughout the COVID-19 year to sanitize the buildings, which played a major part in CSD’s ability to provide in-person learning. He also said Canyons Online will expand its offerings to provide classes for kindergarten, first, and second grades for the 2021-2022 school year.
  • Wilcox expressed appreciation to the Board for the logistical work it has taken to start the lease-revenue bond issuance process. The Budget Book also was provided to the Board, and he mentioned the work that is ongoing to open school on time.

Board of Education Member Reports

Mrs. Clareen Arnold expressed appreciation to everyone who works at the District to make it successful.

Mr. Steve Wrigley said he appreciates the comments by patrons about various issues, and said that mental health supports are an important part of the learning process. 

Mrs. Holly Neibaur addressed the lower-grade options in Canyons Online and encouraged ongoing respectful and civil discussions about important issues.

Mrs. Amanda Oaks thanked Business Administrator Leon Wilcox for coordinating the lease-revenue bond process. She also congratulated the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Excellence in Education Award winners from CSD. Oaks said arts education is vital to the progress of students. She also said constituents have told her how much they appreciated public access to  CSD facilities, such as jogging and walking tracks and tennis courts, during the pandemic. 

Mrs. Amber Shill reported on a regular meeting she and President Tingey have with Cottonwood Height Mayor and City Manager. She thanked the patrons who addressed the Board of Education tonight in a respectful and civil manner. 

Mr. Mont Millerberg thanked patrons who provide input and feedback to the Board of Education, be it through email, phone calls or Patron Comment. He said the residents and the Board should not have an adversarial relationship, and he invites the patrons who provided input to come back often to provide remarks. He lauded the employees who have worked hard to ensure that the new buildings will be mostly done by the first day of school.  He also noted the partnership with municipal and civic groups to provide education to the community’s children.

President Tingey voiced appreciation to her fellow Board members and the employees who are working hard to maintain the District’s operations. 

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email