Board Meeting Summary, Oct. 19, 2021

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

Remote-Learning Days

 Six Fridays will be set aside as remote-learning days. The Board of Education approved a proposal to shift learning to an online format one Friday a month, starting Nov. 5. The Administration will return at a future date with other proposed Fridays for the rest of the school year. On the remote-learning days, students will engage in independent study from remote locations. Teachers will plan, collaborate, and work one-on-one with students. The aim of remote-learning days is to provide relief for teachers and school support staff who say they are exhausted, stressed and burned out because of pandemic-related issues, the ongoing staff and substitute shortage, and student absenteeism. The Board was assured that instructional time will not be lost, and teachers will be required to report to work. Much like last year, students will access assignments on Canvas, the District’s common online-learning management system. This time would not be intended to be used for athletic or performing arts practices. 

Social Emotional Learning Curriculum

The Board of Education directed the Administration to conduct surveys in school communities that have been using the “Second Step” social-emotional learning curriculum previous to this school year. The aim of the surveys would be to gauge the level of support for the continuation of the SEL program until the end of the school year. The Board asked to review the survey questions before they are sent to patrons. The curriculum that had been used in Canyons schools, called “Second Step,” was suspended for use in Canyons at all grade levels after parents who were reviewing the middle school curriculum found links to third-party websites that contained concerning content. In a presentation that provided options for short-term SEL options, School Performance Director Dr. McKay Robinson said that, regardless of the SEL program being used, parents would be able to opt-out if they do not want their children to participate. Additionally, he said, the administrative Cabinet, made up of the Superintendent and several department directors, would vet SEL curriculum before it is used. The Administration will continue to study SEL programs to propose to the Board for a long-term solution. 

Employee Supports

The Canyons District Administration is working to provide relief to employees who are reporting high levels of stress and burnout in the midst of the pandemic. Educators in CSD schools report that the weakened attendance requirements, coupled with the number of absent students who are ill with COVID-19, have made it a challenge to ensure every student is learning at grade level without remediation. Further, teachers report having to teach in-person classes while concurrently updating Canvas pages for students who are not in class. Teachers and support staff alike are being asked to cover for sick colleagues because of the dearth of substitutes, and  employees in all positions also have had to pull double-duty because of the more than 200 jobs that remain unfilled. In response, the Administration has launched a Superintendent Listening Tour to get input and ideas from employees; cancelled all professional development sessions that are not state-mandated or tied to grants; suspended the rollout of any new initiatives that directly impact teacher workload; and scheduled meetings with principal groups to discuss ways to improve teacher and school supports.  Additionally, CSD will send more information to employees about available mental-health resources, ask District Office employees to sub for teachers who are training for the LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) program, and continue a campaign to attract additional substitute teachers.

 Strategic Planning Process

Education Elements managing partner Dr. Shelby McIntosh updated the Board of Education on the ongoing strategic plan process, including a minor extension of the timeline to complete the blueprint for growth and development. Dr. McIntosh also reviewed proposed focus areas and engaged in a discussion surrounding the recruitment of people for Planning Teams.  The teams would winnow their attention in the areas of “Learning Experiences,” “Access and Opportunity,” “Human Centered Support,” and “Operating Systems.” Invitations to Planning Team members are scheduled to go out the last week of October. Education Elements, which has been contracted to guide the creation of CSD’s strategic plan, also suggests that the Steering Committee plan to review the work of Planning Teams mid-December.

Long Term Planning

Construction is well underway for Canyons’ newest elementary, Glacier Hills, which will eventually house the current Bell View and Edgemont school communities. Once classes have been moved into the new school, the District will renovate the Bell View building into a facility for Diamond Ridge High and Entrada, Canyons’ alternative and adult high schools, and the Canyons Youth Academy. Business Administrator Leon Wilcox said crews could spend the summer months remodeling the entrance and front office and complete a counseling center. In 2023, if the plan meets Board approval at an upcoming meeting, workers will build science labs, an art classroom, a FACS classroom, and a preschool area. The Administration will bring the plan to the Board for consideration in November. Wilcox also told the Board that Canyons’ enrollment has decreased about 1,000 students since 2019-2020.  All Canyons middle schools are experiencing dips in enrollment. Two high schools — Hillcrest and Brighton — saw minor increases. Wilcox also showed early drafts of new boundaries for Midvale-area schools. A proposal may be presented to the Board in spring 2022. Possible future projects include a CTEC upgrade, a review of the condition of CSD buildings, a growth plan for the area now occupied by the Utah State Prison, and proposals for the use of the old Crescent View Middle building.

Policy Update

The Board of Education approved updates to policies governing student educational travel and the process schools must follow to create their Teacher and Student Success Plans.

Academic Calendars

The Board of Education is considering proposed calendars for the 2022-2023,  2023-2024, and 2024-2025 school years.

School Update

Lone Peak Elementary Principal Tracy Stacy lauded the innovation of her faculty and staff. This year, thanks to the problem-solving of the faculty and staff, aides and “Brain Booster” teachers are providing support to teachers in creative ways. For example, she said, the fifth-grade drama instructional aide is working with students to rewrite “The Odyssey” for a modern audience, and an arts instructor also is helping students see the connection between math and artistry. Principal Stacy thanked the Board for the opportunity to talk about Lone Peak’s successes. 

Patron Comment

Thirty-five patrons addressed the Board of Education during the Patron Comment portion of the Business meeting. Recordings of the remarks can be accessed on BoardDocs. 

Consent Agenda

 The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes for the Board of Education meeting on Oct. 5, 2021; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel requests; and September Financial Reports.  The Policy Committee will be asked to review the makeup of the Sex Education Instruction Committee. 

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox noted the upcoming retirement of Facilities Director Rick Conger.

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