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Board Meeting Summary, Nov 10, 2020

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

Bond Issuances

The Board of Education is considering approving the issuance of $79 million in general-obligation bonds to pay for the continued construction at Alta, Brighton and Hillcrest high schools and the start of construction on the new Union Middle. Business Administrator Leon Wilcox said the funds will be the final issuance from the $283 million bond measure approved by voters in 2017. Also under consideration is a proposal to refund some $40 million in bonds issued in April 2011 from the school-improvement bonds approved by voters in 2010. If the plan is realized, with the District’s AAA bond rating and low interest rates, taxpayers could save between $7.3 million and $7.6 million. The Board of Education will consider a bond resolution for both transactions on Dec. 1. The issued bonds from the 2017 bond measure would be sold in mid-January 2021. The sale of refunded bonds would transpire in March 2021.

Board Indicators

The Board of Education reviewed performance measures for the panel’s governing tenets of student achievement, community engagement, customer service, innovation and fiscal accountability. Several regular indicators of student achievement for the 2019-2020 school year cannot be reported because of last spring’s “soft closure” of Utah schools as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canyons Research and Assessment Director Dr.  Hal Sanderson told the Board of Education. However, despite the challenges presented by the novel coronavirus, 91 percent of Canyons District juniors participated in the ACT, the most-commonly used college-readiness exam. The average composite score, Dr. Sanderson reported, was 20.8, which is a slight increase from the previous year. Canyons students also bested the statewide average scores in English, reading, mathematics, and science. The graduation rate for Canyons seniors remained steady at 90 percent, Dr. Sanderson said. An indicator of community engagement is the voluntarism in Canyons schools. Even in a shortened year, 11,441 registered and approved volunteers provided 93,564 hours of service in CSD schools and special programs. A full 100 percent of principals and 73 percent of School Community Council chairs participated in the annual training workshops. Sixty-six percent of SCC members completed the trainings. In an effort to provide better customer service, the Canyons website was redesigned and moved to a new platform. The number of visitors to the CSD website jumped to 7.95 million, up from 6.2 million the previous year. In the yearly Parent Satisfaction Survey, 91 percent of respondents indicated they were pleased with how much their children were learning at school.  Ninety-one percent also said they were pleased with the social-emotional supports provided at CSD schools. In a survey of teachers, 85 percent said they were satisfied with their job in Canyons District. CSD also innovated by providing professional development in “High Quality Virtual Teaching,” approving additional Dual Language Immersion programs, and starting the first steps to form Canyons Online and Connect Canyons, two efforts to support virtual learning.  Fiscal accountability was shown by the AAA bond rating, full compliance in the annual audit, and awards from the Government Finance Officers Association and the Association of School Business Officials International. Dr. Sanderson also presented information about the so-called “COVID-19 slide,” which refers to the slip in student achievement because of the cancelled in-person classes last spring and the return to school in challenging circumstances this fall. While student achievement is not as robust as previous years, and efforts are being made to help make up academic ground, the measures are not as dire as some predictions for the COVID-19-impacted school year. More information about student gains and growth goals can be found on BoardDocs. 

Human Sexuality, Sex Education Policy Required Reports

In a state-required update, Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward reviewed the District’s process that is followed by the District’s Sex Education Instruction Committee. The group, comprised of representatives from across the District, meets at least twice a year to review resources, speakers, and curriculum related to sex education. At the spring meeting, the committee studies county health data. The committee also reviews the annual maturation program. Last year, Dr. Roderick-Landward said, the in-person maturation presentations were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A link to a professionally produced recorded presentation was sent to parents of sixth-grade students this fall, however. CSD has received positive feedback about the recorded presentation. The Board also was presented with data regarding adolescent births, countywide counts of child sex abuse victims, sexually transmitted disease rates in Salt Lake County, and school-discipline referrals for pornography.

School Fee Policy

The Board of Education conducted a state-required review of its policy on school fees.

Board Roundtable

Members of the Board of Education decided to hold a roundtable discussion on Feb. 9.

Temporary Location for Peruvian Park, Edgemont

The Administration proposes moving the Edgemont and Peruvian Park elementary schools to the old Crescent View Middle building during the April 5-9 Spring Recess to facilitate the construction schedules for those communities’ new schools. Peruvian Park and Edgemont classes would be held at the former middle school until construction on their current campuses is complete. Funds from a voter-approved bond will help pay for the facilities. The proposal will now be discussed by SCCs at both schools, and principals will send information to parents and employees for input. The Board may vote on the proposal on Dec. 1.

Recognitions

The following students, faculty and staff were recognized for their achievements:

  • Brighton High chemistry teacher Austin Gillespie for winning the Ronald and Eileen Ragsdale Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher Award from the chemistry department at the University of Utah.  
  • Alta High student artists Jake Jensen and Ella Memmott for creating the artwork for the 2020 Canyons District Holiday Card. 
  • Winners of the 2020 Apex Awards, who are:
    • School Administrator of the Year — Kelly Tauteoli, Union Middle Principal 
    • District Administrator of the Year — Dr. Bob Dowdle, Assistant Superintendent, and Susan Edwards, Public Engagement Coordinator 
    • Teacher of the Year — Emma Moss, Eastmont Middle  
    • Business/Community Partner of the Year — Utah Food Bank
    • Volunteer of the Year — Araceli Rivera, East Midvale, and Stacey Kratz, Midvale-area school volunteer 
    • Elected Official of the Year — Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy
    • Student Support Services Professional of the Year — CSD Head Nurse Sally Goodger and ISD Education Technology Team, Camille Cole, Michelle Shimmin, Justin Andersen, Jenna Townsend, Katie Blunt, Jonathan Stewart, Scott Lambert, Scott Christensen
    • Education Support Professional of the Year — Custodial Coordinator Kevin Kelson 
    • Legacy Award — Dr. Jim Briscoe, former CSD Superintendent

School Calendars, Options for ‘Snow Day’

The Board of Education approved the calendar for the 2021-2022 school year and gave tentative approval for calendars for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years. The Board also updated language in policy to indicate that the Board may determine an alternative option, such as a Digital Learning Day, Presidents’ Day, or an Independent Learning Day, for instructional time lost due to an emergency school closure. Previously, District policy stated that school emergency-closure days will be made up first on Presidents’ Day, and the Board reserves the right to meet to determine a secondary date. School Performance Director Alice Peck also presented information about how the District would conduct a virtual- or independent-learning day instead of a “Snow Day” when inclement weather forces closures of buildings.

Midvale School Boundary Input

Input will be solicited from Midvale communities regarding two boundary-change options for Midvale-area schools. The options, which can be found on BoardDocs, were created by CSD’s Long-Range Planning Committee to balance the enrollments at Midvale-area elementary schools given the recent residential and business growth in Midvale. According to a presentation by Canyons Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, the Administration plans to engage in a thorough public process to get feedback from patrons, employees, and students. CSD will hold open houses, post information on school and District websites, discuss the issues with PTAs and SCCs, and engage in conversations with municipal leaders and other stakeholders. The District also would translate the information into Spanish and other languages, and follow applicable state law governing public-notification of potential boundary changes.

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes of the Oct. 20, 2020 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; October Financial reports; and LEA-specific licenses.

Patron Comment

Merrin Maughn, Jaxson Baker, Alex Brown, McKenna Matthews, Matthew Schilling, Samantha Webb and Erika Bradshaw addressed the Board of Education. Recordings of their comments can be accessed on BoardDocs. 

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins congratulated the winners of the 2020 Apex Awards and outlined the process the District follows to determine if a schedule change is warranted for a school that is experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases associated with the community. Before a decision is made, Dr. Robins speaks with the Salt Lake County Department of Health, as well as local physicians and epidemiologists, and asks for input from principals of affected schools. Trend lines of COVID-19 cases associated with the schools, as well as community transmission rates, are examined. Dr. Robins also noted that Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s executive order, which became effective Monday, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m., requires participants in the football playoffs be tested for COVID-19 72 hours before they participate in the event. Students who test positive before the game will not be allowed to play in the game. This may be used as a pilot for how winter sports operate. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox thanked the Insurance Department for overseeing the Open Enrollment period for health insurance. He also noted the Insurance Committee’s work to expand mental-health supports for employees. Wilcox appreciates the hard work of employees in this uncertain and challenging time. He also noted that, even in the midst of a pandemic, all 29 elementary schools have continued to operate every day since the start of school year. 

Board of Education Reports

Mrs. Amanda Oaks reported on attending the Student Advisory Council and SCC meetings held over Zoom, as well as The Point working group that is discussing how land will be used once the Utah State Prison moves from its current location. She also congratulated the local candidates who won recent election, including Albion Principal Dr. Molly Hart who won a seat on the Utah State Board of Education, and new Canyons Board member Holly Neibaur. She also said she was grateful for every day that students are able to be in school to receive in-person instruction.

Mrs. Amber Shill attended the Friends and Family Night of the Brighton High Marching Band, which just ended its first year. She congratulated the Brighton High football team on a successful season, thanked Canyons View Principal Kierstin Draper for sleeping on the roof after a successful fund-raiser and welcomed Ms. Neibaur to the Board. She also noted how thankful she is for on-campus learning.

Mr. Steve Wrigley mentioned his participation on the CSD Arts Consortium, his appearance on a KUTV interview about board-member compensation, a visit to Entrada, and the Friends and Family Night of the Brighton High Marching Band. He also attended the recent visit by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Sydnee Dickson to Eastmont Middle to congratulate Emma Moss for being a runner-up in the Utah Teacher of the Year selection process. 

Ms. Clareen Arnold congratulated Dr. Hart on her election to the Utah State Board of Education. Arnold, a teacher, remarked on how excited students are to be in school. She expressed appreciation for CSD’s emphasis on social-emotional learning, especially in the era of COVID-19.  She thanked employees, parents and students for following the safety precautions so the schools can remain open.

Mr. Mont Millerberg thanked patrons for adding their voices to the conversation about potential boundary changes for Midvale-area schools. He said he is grateful for fellow Board members and CSD Administrators who work hard to solicit input from the community and engage in productive dialogue about important issues.

President Tingey reported on attending the Student Advisory Council meeting. While there’s unrest and uncertainty in the world, there’s also much to be grateful for, she said.  She expressed appreciation for current members of the Board and others who ran for elected office. 

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