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Getting Involved

Board Meeting Summary Sept. 1, 2015

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

Alta View Elementary Rebuilding Concepts Shown

Canyons CEO Leon Wilcox and Naylor Wentworth Lund Architects representatives presented the Board with an update on the new Alta View Elementary School concepts. The school remains in the design process, and concepts are intended to update the Board on the direction so far and receive feedback, Naylor Wentworth Lund Principal Ross Wentworth said. The school will be rebuilt on the same campus, where the playground currently sits. The site already has been prepared with drop-off and fencing adjustments to ensure safety and a place for students to play during construction. Principal Karen Medlin noted the school hosted a spring community meeting and a faculty meeting about the new school’s design, and displayed in the school halls the initial concepts for parents to view last spring. She said feedback has been positive, and lauded concepts that would improve parking and traffic flow. She said the next step is to show the school and neighborhood communities the concepts. Vice President Wrigley noted White City officials are looking forward to having a gathering space in the community.

Teacher Evaluation System Simplified, Demonstrated

Sandra Dahl-Houlihan, Administrator of Evaluation and Leadership, provided an overview and demonstration of the newly simplified Facilities Committee. She said the simplification was aimed at creating a more usable, intuitive tool to help teachers improve their instructional practices. CTESS components are accessible to teachers online. There, teachers see the standards and set goals, as demonstrated by Bell View teacher and Canyons Education Association President Jen Jacobs. Dahl-Houlihan also demonstrated the evaluation pages. She said the tool has been modified to work in all classrooms, be it a science classroom or a special education setting. 

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe noted the system is designed to engage teachers in instructional improvement efforts, and that it includes multiple measures.  Board Members Clareen Arnold and Chad Iverson and Vice President Steve Wrigley had questions about the system and some of the language used in documents. Board Second Vice President Nancy Tingey thanked the team for achieving goals to create a usable tool and simplify the CTESS implementation. Board President Sherril Taylor said that he appreciates the Board’s tough questions, as well as the team’s work. He encouraged Board members who have additional questions to make appointments with the team and alert him to outstanding issues, if any. The Board requested an additional update in the coming months.

Board Approves Parent School Support Organization/Association Policy

Following extensive public input, revisions and discussions in three previous public meetings, the Board unanimously approved the new Parent School Support Organization/Association Policy. The policy provides a process for parents to form a parent-support organization that is different than the one currently recognized in their school. The policy reaffirms the Board’s commitment to parent and community participation in Canyons schools; establishes criteria and consistency for formal group formation; preserves the decision-making process at the local school level; and minimizes disruption. The policy was first presented to the Board and discussed in its July 14 public meeting.

Special Education Sets New Goals

Special Education Director Robin Collett presented the Board with CSD’s work the Utah Program Improvement Planning system, which the Utah State Office of Education uses to evaluate special education programs in Utah school districts. She said CSD is using the system as a tool to help improve instruction and achievement of students receiving special education services, and to set more rigorous and explicit goals for the program. CSD has set goals to improve math scores for students with learning and speech-language disabilities; to better involve parents in the Individualized Education Program process; and to increase graduation rates.

Facilities Committee Information Presented

The Facilities Committee met Aug. 26 to discuss input received from community members in June, Board Member Chad Iverson said. He said the committee at that time wanted information on additional options, and that such options will be discussed on Sept. 26. He said the committee hopes to have recommendations to the Board for an October study session.  

Dr. Briscoe said the committee was created to look at facility use, and that boundaries became part of that discussion. He said slowing the growth at Corner Canyon is a goal, and that doing so would impact Draper residents. He said the committee is looking at a number of options, and stressed that no recommendations have been made. He said the committee is committed to minimizing disruption and crafting viable solutions.

Focus Schools’ Improvement Efforts Presented

Director of Student Advocacy and Access Karen Sterling presented information about CSD’s efforts to improve student achievement at Copperview and Midvale elementaries. Assisting with the effort is Ashley McKinney, Research Associate at the Utah Education Policy Center at the University of Utah. McKinney and her team are conducting focus groups and interviews with teachers and staff to determine underlying issues, and then working with the principals and teachers to write strategic, comprehensive school improvement plans.

President Taylor asked how CSD efforts would be affected if the state’s NCLB waiver were discontinued by the U.S. Department of Education. Sterling said the schools would not fall under turnaround school status under the federal law, and that their improvement work likely would be honored. Vice President Wrigley asked for recommendations on how the Board may be supportive of the efforts with resources.  McKinney said that lesson studies have been found to make an impact in low-performing schools, but time for that requires substitute teacher coverage.  Sterling said efforts to attract and retain quality teachers to Title I schools, as presented by Human Resources Director Steve Dimond at the last meeting, would be helpful as well.  

Academic Year Starts with Ribbon Cuttings, Red Carpets, Kindergarten College-Ready Day

Communications Directors Jennifer Toomer-Cook and Jeff Haney provided a pictorial presentation regarding events surrounding the first days of school, including the Back to School Call Center, which fielded 3,984 phone calls from Aug. 17-28; ribbon-cuttings at Mount Jordan Middle School, and the Brighton High Soccer Field and artificial football turf; Red Carpet Events to welcome students back to CSD elementary and middle schools; news coverage and social media engagement; and Kindergarten College-Ready Day.

Caucuses Coming to CSD Buildings

Director of Government Relations Charlie Evans presented March 27 caucus information to the Board to ensure there are no conflicts with scheduling with Board activities or CSD facilities. He said equal space would be given to the two political parties. Board President Sherril Taylor said it’s important to send the message that CSD values the elections process.

Board Action

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the Aug. 18, 2015 Minutes Purchasing Bids; Student Overnight Travel; Board Hire and Termination Reports; and the CTEC Built Home at 8084 Tapp Lane. The Board approved Student Overnight Travel, which includes proposals for Alta Wrestling, Ballroom, and Baseball; Brighton Instrumental Music/Choir; Corner Canyon Band/Orchestra/Choir, Wrestling, and Cheer; and Jordan Shakespeare Club and Cheerleading.

The Board heard on second reading a proposal to place a new cell tower at Jordan High.

The Board heard a first-reading presentation on draft updates to the Teacher Evaluation Policy to reflect CSD’s current practice. Second Vice President Tingey said the policy reaffirms the Board’s commitment to providing effective educators in all classrooms. Board Member Iverson wondered whether some draft changes are too narrow. The Board will continue its discussions.

Patron Comments

Nan Kennard, a Draper Park Middle parent who represents a group (about 15 of whom came to Board meeting), said that children are attending advanced math learning opportunities in the early mornings at Indian Hills Middle School. She asked that the class be taught at Draper Park, or in the alternative, have the District provide busing for participating students. She said both suggestions would alleviate issues with traffic, efficiency and safety for attendees, and open the advanced learning opportunity to additional students for whom transportation currently is a hardship. President Sherril Taylor said the item would be on the Board Agenda for discussion in two weeks.

Teacher Rebekah Peterson, a teacher at Bell View Elementary, thanked the Board for the planning time granted this year in elementary schools. She said she already feels that the time has helped her to become a better teacher.

Michelle Johnson, a teacher at Draper Elementary, thanked the Board for the new elementary schedule and the Brain Booster periods to allow for productive teacher planning time and have a positive impact on professionals and the climate at her school. She presented feedback she gathered from colleagues, which included teachers saying they feel prepared for the following week, are able to plan more engaging activities, and truly engage in team planning, collaboration, data discussion and reflection without stress. She said teachers also are praising the Brain Boosters technicians and curriculum.   

Anne Benson, Edgemont Elementary teacher who was joined by her colleagues, thanked the Board for the new elementary schedule that allows teachers to collaborate and plan as a team. She said the teachers at her school have noticed a difference in planning and decreased stress. She said they love the Brain Boosters, which are taught by outstanding technicians, and said that morale is up at her school. She thanked the Board for listening to teachers in the creation of the schedule.

Lynne Burns, Silver Mesa Elementary parent, addressed the proposed parent support organization policy. She said the process outlined in the policy is too complicated and creates controversy rather than providing parents with a choice. She said the petition process would not provide sufficient privacy for people signing the petition, who would fear backlash, which she says already has happened at her school.  She also feared for equal opportunity for groups in official school communications.  She asked that the Board remove the petition provision from the policy.

Holly Hendrickson, Silver Mesa parent, said the parent support organization policy proposal does not reflect the original intent to give parents a choice because its requirements are too daunting. She also expressed concerns about privacy in the petitioning process, and preferred a secret ballot process. She also questioned equal access to communication forums for the alternate organization. She asked the Board to delay voting on the policy.

Don Hendrickson said there could be possible legal challenges to the policy, on petition and policy points. He said the petition process outlined in the proposed policy would be unduly burdensome because it would require parents of an alternate organization to gather signatures from 25 percent of the parents, or about 150 signatures at Silver Mesa, when only about 200 parents could be categorized as interested parents at the school. He asked if neighboring districts have similarly restrictive requirements. He also said the policy needs clarification regarding school communications during petitioning and elections periods and use of school property, and submitted written comments to the Board regarding those issues.  

Superintendent Report

Dr. Briscoe thanked the teachers who addressed the Board for their positive feedback about the new elementary schedule. He said their comments show that taking the time to vet ideas in communities pays dividends.  He noted Board work is a tough business to be in and one of high accountability. He said that he is working with Cottonwood Heights City regarding restrooms access near the tennis courts. He said he has met twice with United Way about the new partnership with CSD and is excited about what the future might hold.

CFO Report

Wilcox he has a kindergartner and that knowing that the child’s graduating class is 2028 made him feel old. He said he is part of a task force on charter school funding that is working to craft a recommendation for the next legislative session. He said he’d like to see property tax notices to note that part of district property taxes go to charter schools. 

Board Reports

Board Member Iverson thanked the Administration, particularly Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bob Dowdle and his team, for assembling the ninth- and 10th-grade soccer league  to allow younger students to enjoy athletics and represent their school. He said he hoped additional athletic activities would be created for students. He said he’s also grateful for the District’s Middle School Intramurals program. He noted the Facilities Committee met a week ago, and said that he appreciates the feedback from the community of Draper, where he’s been a resident for nine years. He said he wants to make sure that people have the facts as the process unfolds. He said that the committee is trying to solve the issue of crowding at Corner Canyon High because of academic and curricular concerns at Corner Canyon and Alta High. He said the Board will need to study committee recommendations and make a decision. He also noted that the schools are CSD schools, and that 20 percent of city of Draper, including his children, is not in the Corner Canyon boundary. He said that CSD voters approved a bond as a community and hopes that the community comes together to note that CSD has great schools throughout the District.

Board Member Arnold thanked Dr. Briscoe and his staff for their work all summer to prepare for school to start.  She said she asks a lot of questions in Board meetings with good intentions and to gain clarity, and thanked the staff for their honest and open responses. She attended Mount Jordan’s open house, and noted the positive comments about Dr. Hart and her staff in moving the school during construction. She hopes for flexibility for employees and students this year, and that people will be given time to learn new skills. She said she hopes we all maintain an open heart, caring, and strive for understanding.

Vice President Wrigley was sorry to have missed the Red Carpet events, which he’s enjoyed each year, due to his work schedule. He thanked Dr. Briscoe for carrying out the elementary school schedule changes. He said that his community is talking about how refreshed, focused and energized teachers and students seem to be this year, and said the positive morale is apparent in the schools.

Board Member Amber Shill thanked Haney and Toomer-Cook for their presentation. She said that she has received positive feedback about the new elementary schedule. She attended the Brighton ribbon-cuttings, and noted the incredible turnout of the community. She said she participated in a portion of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program at Butler elementary, and was able to remind students of appropriate behavior in the cafeteria and continually thought of student opportunities to respond, as noted in Dahl-Houlihan’s presentation. She attended the school carnival at Bella Vista Elementary. She thanked Dr. Briscoe for his leadership and for listening to patrons.

Board Member Robert Green said that he was pleased that the Board approved the agreement with United Way in the last Board meeting, and thanked Dr. Briscoe for his help in seeing it through. He said that he asked some of his community members about possible adjustments to the Hillcrest and Jordan high school boundaries, and that they seemed to be fine with the concept, especially because of the out-of-boundary permit process. He said he and his community are thankful for the District and newly rebuilt schools in the Midvale community. He said Midvale used to have the oldest schools in the District, and that it’s nice to have an emphasis on Midvale schools and improving education throughout the District.

President Taylor thanked Haney and Toomer-Cook for the presentation, and said he looks forward to the Red Carpet Events each year. He said he appreciates the District Office’s work to prepare for school to start. He said every employee in their specific job at the District is important to the education of children, from custodial to child nutrition to the administration. He said CSD is a great district and that we all will keep working to make it even better.

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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