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Getting Involved

Board of Education Budget Study Session March 10, 2015

The Board of Education received a budget presentation with a number of possibilities for spending in the upcoming year, including staffing for a proposed new elementary school schedule and additional teachers to support all schools, primarily the middle schools. The 2015-2016 budget will not call for a tax increase. This will be the sixth consecutive year with no increase

CFO Leon Wilcox reviewed all General Fund revenue sources, including state funds, which account for 58 percent of the budget; property tax revenues, which account for 32 percent of the budget; and federal funds, which account for about 7 percent of the budget and which largely fund special education and Title I schools serving neighborhoods impacted by poverty. The District’s taxable value grew an estimated 5 percent last year.

Expenses would include state-mandated equalization funds to Jordan School District, scheduled to sunset in fiscal year 2017, and CSD’s share of Jordan District debt, as required in the new district’s creation, will be paid off in 2022. Other state-mandated expenses include statewide building equalization and funding for charter schools, which would amount to about $1 million (a cost that would jump to $3 million in FY18 under a bill the Legislature is considering).

The District would continue budget practices of reserving money for emergencies, including about $11.5 million into a “rainy day” fund reserved for emergencies and $8 million to reserve for insurance costs in case of an emergency. The budget also would reserve $23 million to fund all retirement obligations (GASB) and would need to include funding for employee negotiations, which are getting underway with the Canyons Education Association and Canyons Education Support Professionals Association. Wilcox noted that Canyons teacher salaries aligned with most neighboring school districts.

The Board is considering proposals to increase academic achievement. One proposal seeks to fund a new elementary schedule, which is recommended by a task force of teachers from every CSD elementary school. The proposed elementary schedule would provide for collaboration time during the school day to improve instruction for students and restore early-out Fridays. The proposal calls for trained specialists to provide curriculum-based instruction in such areas as physical education, arts and music while teachers meet to plan and collaborate. The Board also is considering a proposal to provide additional staffing to maintain the middle school schedule, which allows for teacher teaming and collaboration and has made a marked improvement in middle school achievement.

To come up with the funding for the proposals, Wilcox identified a number of possible savings, including the closing of the Midvale Middle School pool; reducing the sweeper fund budget; and reducing 401(k) contributions to 1.5 percent, which is the amount received by all other full-time employees, for the employees hired prior to 2010 who are working in Canyons but receiving retirement benefits from the Utah Retirement Systems, among other proposals.

Capital projects for the coming year http://www.canyonsdistrict.org/district-news/item/3280-small-capital-facilities include $1.5 million for elementary security vestibule doors http://www.canyonsdistrict.org/district-news/item/3291-elementary-security-vestibules-fast-tracked; $1.4 million to build four new classrooms onto Midvale Elementary; and $1.5 million for artificial turf at the Brighton football field http://www.canyonsdistrict.org/district-news/item/3287-turf-at-brighton, already approved by the Board. Other proposals include money for information technology, school equipment, buses and others.

Continuing bond projects totaling $40 million http://www.canyonsdistrict.org/bond-building-projects/itemlist/tag/bondprojects include rebuilds of Midvale Middle, Butler Elementary, Alta View Elementary, and completion of Mount Jordan Middle School. Gary Warwood, Accounting Director, and Wilcox recently met with Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investor Services, and anticipate the district will maintain its AAA bond rating. The high rating allows for the borrowing of funds at low interest rates, which saves taxpayers substantial amounts of interest expense on the repayment of voter-authorized $250 million in building bonds. Wilcox noted a facilities committee of community members, employees and school leaders will review building needs and make recommendations, which may include a possible referendum, in November or December.

Wilcox said student lunch prices will remain stable, but adult lunch prices would increase by 50 cents to $3.50 to comply with federal regulations on reimbursements.

Next steps for the budget include receiving state revenue amounts from the Legislature and Utah State Office of Education; completing negotiations with employee groups; finalizing the current budget; and preparing next year’s budget. The Board will receive additional budget updates in April and May, and a proposed 2015-2016 budget will be posted for public view by May 22, with a budget hearing to occur on June 9, Wilcox said.

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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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