Board Holds Public Hearing, approves $391.8 Million Budget
The Board held an open public hearing and unanimously approved the $391.8 million FY 2015-2016 tentative budget and set the tax rates as required by law.
The budget was presented by CFO and Business Administrator Leon Wilcox. The budget includes a 4 percent increase in the state-funded weighted pupil unit (WPU). A new state law, SB97, will raise the basic property tax rate statewide to equalize public education funding among all school districts. That state tax increase is expected to amount to $11 for every $100,000 in home value in Canyons District, Wilcox said. However, the State Office of Education and State Tax Commission will set the basic rate by June 22, 2015, and the effect of SB97 then can be calculated for each individual homeowner. Canyons’ assessed valuation rose 6 percent, according to the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office, and the district’s tax rate will decline as a result to ensure the same amount of revenue as last year in accordance with state law.
Expenditures include salary increases for employees, including step and lane increases and a cost of living increase. Projects to be funded with proceeds from the $250 million bond voters approved in 2010 include $17.5 million to rebuild Butler Elementary; $19.5 million to rebuild Midvale Middle School; and $2.9 million to begin the process of rebuilding Alta View Elementary. Capital fund projects include the Brighton High artificial turf, Midvale Elementary classroom additions; and security doors for elementary schools, as well as information technology projects, among others. Budgetary challenges anticipated in the future include impact of SB97; insurance costs; and construction cost inflation.
PTA Region 17 PTA Director Betty Shaw said she hears many parents concerned about adequate school supplies. She also thanked Wilcox for including renovations to the Jordan High commons area in the budget. Patron Steve Van Maren submitted written feedback on the budget. Robert Green inquired about funding building construction through bonds, levies and a pay-as-you-go model, and pros and cons of each. Wilcox note the Facilities Committee’s work may inform future capital spending.
The Board unanimously approved the FY2014-2015 final budget as presented. The Board unanimously approved the FY2015-2016 budget as presented, and set the tax rates as determined by the county, the State Board of Education, and debt rate to generate sufficient revenues within the rates promised to voters at the 2010 election.
Roger Moody, who has been working as an achievement coach at Corner Canyon High School, was appointed as Assistant Principal of Butler Middle School. He replaces Jesse Hennefer, who has been appointed as Administrator of the Canyons District Evidence-Based Learning Department. As such, Hennefer will work closely with the District’s new, sole Evidence-Based Learning Director, Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward.
Former Director of Evidence-Based Learning in secondary schools, Dr. Hollie Pettersson, has resigned to take a position at an educational research and consulting firm.
In addition, Jamal Willis, who has been serving as the District’s Athletic Director, has been appointed as an Assistant Principal at Brighton High, and Rachel Hill, an administrative intern at Alta High, is a new Assistant Principal at Hillcrest High.
Facilities Committee Seeks Public Input
Board Member Chad Iverson reported on the progress of the Facilities Committee. He said the committee has crafted a draft proposal to bring to a public input meeting Monday, June 15, at 6 p.m. at Alta High School. There, the discussion will focus on capacity challenges at Corner Canyon and Alta High School and public feedback regarding those challenges. The committee will reconvene in the fall to discuss the feedback and incorporate it into a recommendation to the Board.
Superintendent Dr. Briscoe said he’s looking forward to the public feedback, and said the process so far has been a good one. He also said he’d like to have additional neighborhood meetings to ensure people understand the proposal and can give feedback. Iverson also said committee has discussed next steps, which include discussion next fall about building projects and facility improvements districtwide.
Board Resolution Thanks Legislators
The Board unanimously adopted a resolution to thank legislators for increasing the WPU and ending countywide equalization. External Affairs Director Charles Evans noted public education has consistently received greater increases than higher education. He said the resolution thanks legislators and demonstrated transparency and follow through on the Board’s budgeting. Board President Sherril Taylor noted legislators and Board members frequently hear from people when they are upset, but not when they are happy with legislative action. He praised the resolution as a way to recognize legislators’ efforts on behalf of CSD, and the good communication between the District and Legislature. Second Vice President Nancy Tingey thanked the Board for adopting the resolution, which she said recognizes the Board and legislators share constituencies; the Board’s transparency in spending; and the mutual commitment to building a district of distinction.
Canyons Virtual High School Enrollment Leaps
Education Technology Director Dr. Darren Draper provided an update on the progress of the Canyons Virtual High School, where enrollments have exploded from 128 students in 2011-2012 to 2,421 students in 2014-2015. Dr. Draper noted that one in five CSD high school students have taken at least one CVHS course. Of the total enrollment, about 10 percent live outside Canyons School District. CVHS was created in 2011 to provide students inside and outside of Canyons District excellent educational options under a new state law to open online education to all Utah students. Currently, CVHS offers 49 courses, which are taught by CSD teachers. In the 2014-2015 school year, 56 percent of students enrolled took courses for original credit; 44 percent took credit-recovery classes. Completion rates were 62 percent for original credit courses and 49 percent for credit recovery courses. Dr. Draper noted that students can take as long as they need to complete the credits in accordance with state law.
Dr. Draper said that meeting diverse needs of students, the continual student influx and various completion times present challenges at the school. Draper said additional office staff and regular staff contact with students in schools would be helpful in the future.
Update: Mount Jordan Middle 1:1 Technology Initiative
Mount Jordan Middle School Principal Dr. Molly Hart, Education Technology Team Lead Rachel Murphy, and several students presented a review of the 1:1 technology initiative and impact it has had on students and staff in the past school year. Dr. Hart said that it’s too early to make determinations about the program, but said there have been some challenges and successes identified so far. Dr. Hart noted that computer devices that best met curriculum needs were placed in classrooms. Students reported using the devices to Skype students in Spain to help them with their Spanish skills in the Dual-Language Immersion Program. Others said they used them to bring creative writing to life via filmmaking. Students also were able to participate schoolwide in computer coding instruction, and take state-mandated testing all at once, which saved time, stress, and helped students maintain focus. Dr. Hart said the 1:1 technology initiative has revitalized the school by providing students with creative learning opportunities. She said it also may have played a role in growth in preliminary SAGE state-testing result because the technology requires students to read and write continually. She said the effort has required extensive professional development of teachers, and now is ingrained in students and teachers and how they go about their work. They recommended expanding 1:1 technology in in other schools.
Murphy and Dr. Hart note initiative also presented challenges. Providing classroom devices instead of one device per student has been expensive. Extensive professional development was necessary for teachers to learn to effectively use technology in instruction. Students couldn’t take devices home for homework, but they were able to access homework assignments from their personal devices, mobile and otherwise.
Alternative High School Names Proposed
The Board discussed possible names for the new Canyons alternative high school, set to open next school year. The name most liked by students is Diamond Ridge because it is unique and reflects hope and challenge, Assistant Superintendent Dr. McCarrie said. The name conjures images of mountains, and the black diamond symbol used in ski resorts to indicate the most challenging terrain, she said. Adult Education Coordinator Amy Boettger noted the students in the first year could be asked to create a mascot, and noted several already are proposing Coyotes. The school will be located at the Canyons Technical Education Center’s campus. The Board expressed support for the name Diamond Ridge, and said it would take a formal vote on the name in the next Board Meeting.
Consent Agenda Approved
The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the May 12 Meeting Minutes; Purchasing Bids; May Financial Reports; Hire and Termination Reports; Purchase of Property at 660 E. 8000 South; Memorandums of Understanding; and Administrative Appointments. The Board also approved Student Overnight Travel for the following high school groups: Alta FCCLA and Theatre; Brighton Boys Basketball, Cross Country, and Shakespeare Team; Hillcrest Shakespeare Team; and Jordan High Drill Team, Football, and Boys Tennis.
Policy Updates Proposed
Policy Coordinator Jeff Christensen presented draft updates to several district policies to ensure they are up to date with laws, Board philosophy and practices. Proposed changes were crafted with recommendations from Transportation, Facilities Services, Nutrition Services, Educational Technology department directors and staff, as well as the Canyons Education Foundation. They include changes to the School Access policy, which would combine policies regarding access to buildings, community use of school buildings and School Trespass; changes to the Facilities Construction, Renovation, and Maintenance policy to formalize Board philosophy regarding facilities; changes to the School Wellness policy, which must address updated physical education, and federal nutrition guidelines; and changes to Copyright policy, which would be provide clarification to teachers by adding a guidelines exhibit.
Additionally, the Board heard for a second time proposals to update policies regarding Named Gifts and Memorials, Student Transportation, and Student Conduct on Buses.
Cell Towers Discussed
The Board held a second reading of proposals for cell towers at East Sandy and Crescent elementaries. The towers were approved by each school’s School Community Council, which recommended they be approved by the Board. Wilcox spoke with both schools’ principals, and said that both SCCs remain supportive of the cell towers. The Board will vote on the matter in a future meeting.
Outstanding Students, Employees Recognized
The Board recognized the achievements of the following students and employees:
• Robert Gordon, Education Technology Specialist, UCET Making IT Happen Award
• Gary Hansen, CSD Director of Purchasing, Professional Public Manager of the Year, National Institute of Governmental Purchasing-Utah Chapter
• Unified Police Detective Cynthia Archuleta , Hillcrest High School Resource Officer, School Resource Officer of the Year
• Heather Weiler, Jordan High, Educator of the Year, Utah Angels Foundation
• Christian Babinski, Jordan High, Mentor of the Year, Utah Angels Foundation
• Maria Hawley, Speech-Language Pathology Coordinator, Rolland J. Van Hattum Award of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation
• Margaret Swanicke, Sunrise Elementary Principal, Utah PTA Outstanding School Administrator Award
• Sadie Chidester, Elijas Chrapacas, Brad Kloos, Derek Mouser, Jacob Rubisch, Porter Thorkelson, Corner Canyon High, Finalists, Freshwood Woodworking International Competition
• Mikayla Maughan, Sprucewood Elementary, Award of Excellence, Utah PTA Reflections Contest
• Alyssa Hirshi and McKell Kellog, Brighton, Academic All-State, Girls Track & Field
• Jacob Thomas Ulrich, Hillcrest, Academic All-State, Boys Tennis
• Blake Burns, Brighton; Peter Quinn Lynch, Hillcrest; and Stephan Daniel Peck, Alta, Academic All-State, Boys Track & Field
• Chandler J. Olsen, Alta; and Marshall Cluff Underwood, Hillcrest, Academic All-State, Boys Soccer
• Mylei Hong, Brighton; and Rebekah Kay Anderson and Alexis Marie Varanakis, Hillcrest, Academic All-State, Softball.
• Joseph Morrell, Hillcrest; and Abigail Ward and Hannah Potter, Brighton, National Merit College-Sponsored Scholarship recipients
• Brandon Cui, Hillcrest, Science Sterling Scholar; Intel Science Talent Search finalist; Senior Division Grand Champion in Engineering at the Salt Lake Valley Engineering and Science Fair; Intel International Science and Engineering Fair invitee; Regional finalist for a Coca-Cola Scholar award; Who’s Who in the Future Business Leaders of America organization; Superior Distinction Award and first place in the FBLA Banking and Financial Systems Team competition; Academic All-State Boys Tennis; and first place, 5A State Math Competition
• Alexander Sun, Hillcrest, Senior Division Grand Champion, Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair , and alternate in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
• Anthony Cheng, Hillcrest High, fourth place, Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
• Hillcrest Math Team, Winners, 5A State Math Competition
• Alta High School Choirs, Worldstrides Heritage Performance Honors, Seattle Music Festival
• Hillcrest Spanish and Chinese Programs, First Place, State World Languages Fair and Competition
• Corner Canyon Boys Lacrosse, 4A State Champions
• Hillcrest Unified Sports Team, Winners, Division 1 and Division 2, Soccer Tournament
• Corner Canyon Drama, 4A State Theater Champions
• Brighton Boys Tennis, 5A State Champions
• Alta High Boys Soccer, 5A State Champions
Jen Jacobs, President-elect of the Canyons Education Association, thanked the Board for successful contract negotiations. She identified CEA board members for the coming year: Erika Bradshaw, Mount Jordan Middle, Vice President; and at-large members Karla Moosman, Hillcrest; Valerie Valez-Hall, Butler Middle School; Debbie McDonald, Sprucewood Elementary; Karen Pedersen, Willow Canyon Elementary; and Lezlie Harper, Canyons Technical Education Center.
Dr. Briscoe attended three commencements last week, and said each were unique and amazing to experience. He said he wished he could have attended all five, but all were on the same day. He thanked Wilcox and Accounting Director Gary Warwood for their efforts to craft and present the budget. He also noted the Facilities Committee is holding a public forum on Monday, June 15, at 6 p.m. at Alta High. The meeting will include ideas on balancing enrollments, and provide an opportunity for the community to provide feedback. He encouraged the public to come to the meeting and share their ideas. He also noted that Amber Roderick-Landward will become the sole director of the Evidence-Based Learning Department.
Wilcox said the closing on the sale of the old Valley High property on State Street is expected in September. He noted the new budget will include a number of new contracts that will come to the Board for approval in the coming weeks. He thanked the Board members for their support, and Dr. Briscoe for his leadership this year.
Iverson echoed Dr. Briscoe’s invitation to the public feedback meeting. He attended the Corner Canyon commencement, enjoyed seeing the excitement of the students with their whole future ahead of them. He gave a shout out to the Alta High Boys Soccer Team, and said it’s neat that the school in one of their last competitions as a 5A school won the state championship. He said he hopes to get Alta back to a 5A classification.
Clareen Arnold said she is amazed by the talented students in the district. She thanked the Board and people who attend board meeting, and teachers and administrators for what they do to make things work for students. She said each time the Board meets, it come up with solutions that are best for students. She said she is looking forward to attending the Entrada Adult High School commencement on June 23.
Vice President Steve Wrigley attended senior honor celebrations at Alta, Jordan and Corner Canyon, and commended the decision to provide students with honor cords for earning Advanced or Honors diplomas http://www.canyonsdistrict.org/academic-plan . He also attended the Latinos in Action and American Indian senior awards events and the Corner Canyon and Jordan commencement ceremonies, and said CSD has great students. He expressed his appreciation to the Board members, who are working well together to debate and vote with full understanding of issues. He also is looking forward to the Board retreat. He thanked Dr. Briscoe for having the courage to take the superintendent’s job. He also thanked staff for working through so many administrative changes. He said he feels as if the relationship between the Board and Administration and staff is the best it’s ever been.
Second Vice President Tingey recognized parents and employees who work hard to create year-end recognitions events to provide students with quality experiences. She attended senior honor events at Brighton and Hillcrest high schools to recognize students receiving Advanced and Honors diplomas, and noted 72 percent of the graduating class earned one of the college- and career-ready diplomas. She recalled when the diplomas first were proposed in 2009, they were met with some angst, but said she is pleased with the finished product. She thanked Wilcox for the budget and presentation, and assured him that the Board has spent significant time studying the budget. She thanked the legislators and taxpayers of the District for providing resources to support dedicated and compassionate educators in CSD. She also attended Brighton and Jordan commencements, and commended the administration and faculties who planned the events. She noted graduation is a payday for the community. She also said that while 72 percent of graduates received Advanced and Honors diplomas, there were quite a few students wearing no honor cords whom she is proud of for working as hard, or perhaps even harder, than students who earned many honor cords. She said that if those students continue life skills and study habits, they will be successful.
Amber Shill noted work on Butler Elementary is well underway, as is the Brighton High football turf. She said Brighton’s graduation was wonderful, and included her daughter among graduates. She noted 80 percent of Brighton seniors earned the Honors and Advanced diplomas. She is attending the South Park commencement Wednesday. She also noted a recent Town Hal with Tingey, and thanked the some 30 patrons who came to share their thoughts and ideas. She also said it’s been a great year so far, and that she is learning how passionate and dedicated the Board and CSD staff truly are.
Green said he attended the Hillcrest senior honors event, and made brief comments there. He is planning on attending the South Park Commencement Wednesday, and is looking forward to Thursday’s groundbreaking event at Midvale Middle. He said it’s a wonderful time in CSD, and that he is proud of the District.
President Taylor noted the efforts of so CSD professionals who make sure students are able to graduate and accomplish their dreams. He thanked every employee for all their work, and noted it takes everyone’s efforts to help students succeed. He thanked the Board for taking on extra duties and meetings without complaint. He also thanked Dr. Briscoe for his efforts, and said his demeanor is well received by the public. He also thanked Wilcox and Warwood for their work on the budget.