Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.
Life Skills Program Update
Student Services Director Dr. Brian McGill presented an update on the in-house development of CSD’s life-skills curriculum. A pedagogy review of the K-8 curriculum is currently being done by the Canyons District Instructional Supports Department, Dr. McGill said, and in January the lessons are scheduled to be published on the Canyons District website. Principals, in consultation with School Community Councils, PTAs, and faculty and staff, will then decide whether their school will participate in a January-to-May field test of the curriculum. An ongoing feedback process will be utilized to hone and modify the lessons, said Dr. McGill, who also noted that a parent group has been vetting the curriculum for sensitive content, age-appropriateness, and stereotypes and bias. The Board of Education is projected to begin the curriculum adoption and approval process in April 2023. If approved, the lessons could be used in CSD schools in August 2023. The aim of the curriculum is to help students learn the skills necessary to resolve conflicts, make responsible decisions, set goals for personal growth, build resilience, serve the community, and respect themselves and others.
Since Canyons District’s enrollment high-point of 34,000 students in 2019-2020, enrollment has dropped an average of 1.4 percent per year. If this trajectory holds, all but three CSD elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high schools are projected for enrollment declines in the next five years. The declines are steepest in kindergarten and grades 1-2, and primarily driven by a Utah’s declining birth rate, soaring housing prices, and limited room for new housing construction within CSD’s built-out communities. CSD Communications Director Jeff Haney and Associate Director Kirsten Stewart reported on a new Strategic Enrollment initiative the District is undertaking to support the recruitment and retention of students. Recruitment activities focus on attracting students with high-quality programs, rich extra-curricular opportunities, and modern facilities while connecting students to the educational options best suited for their success, interests, and aspirations. Retention entails providing students and families with needed supports and resources along with opportunities to be involved in the intellectual and social aspects of school. Critical to both recruitment and retention is providing students and families with exceptional customer service and an exceptional school experience.
Annual Comprehensive Financial Report
Business Administrator Leon Wilcox presented the 2022-2023 Comprehensive Annual Comprehensive Report. The 130-page CAFR is a required document that informs stakeholders about the financial aid and economic state of the District, which spends some $30 million a month to operate. Wilcox noted the budget allowed for some $343 million in expenditures; however, the District spent some $333 million. Wilcox noted the values of taxable property has increased 25.5 percent in just one calendar year. That has led to skyrocketing increases in the prices of residential homes. The average home in CSD boundaries popped up from $497,000 in 2021 to $649,000 in 2022, an increase of 30.6 percent. While jumps in taxable values may provide stability for future school-district budgets, it does prevent some families with younger children from purchasing homes within the District. Wilcox said CSD has been able to strengthen its unassigned general fund balance from $11.2 million in 2010 to $30.1 million in 2022. The District has maintained resources set aside for economic stabilization at $17.4 million, the 5 percent maximum allowed per state statute, and increased its assigned general fund balance from $2.7 million in 2010 to $13.5 million in 2022. The Board also has committed general fund resources at 105 percent of the accrued actuarial liability from the most recent actuarial study to fund its retirement benefit plan. Wilcox also pointed out the District’s portion of health costs has gone up about $5 million in one year.
School-Year Calendars and Proposed Teacher Work Days
The Board of Education approved the proposed 2023-2024 school-year calendar and gave tentative approval to the calendars for the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 school years. The calendar for the upcoming school year was approved with the caveat that teacher-planning days may be added to the calendar after a period of review, discussion, and information-gathering. This is in response to requests made by teachers who say they need more time to prepare for instruction. A current proposal made by the Administration calls for two teacher-planning days to the 2023-2024 school-year calendar. State law, 53F-2-102, and a corresponding Utah State Board of Education rule, R277-419-4, allows Local Education Agencies, or LEAs, to reserve up to 32 hours or four school days for professional learning. The Administration says the extra preparation time will not only give teachers time to enhance their instruction through planning and preparation but also help as a retention strategy by boosting morale and decreasing burn-out levels. Under the proposal, the two no-student, teacher-planning days would be on Friday, Oct. 27 and March 22 — at the end of the first and third quarters. The proposal, which remains under consideration by the Board, also would not extend the contract year. This also would be in addition to the 16 non-school-time hours for which Canyons teachers are paid in recognition of the work done outside of contract hours.
2023-2024 Small Capital Facilities
The list of small-capital facilities projects to be undertaken during the upcoming summer months is being created. But one of the projects — a proposed $3.5 million expansion of Alta High’s band room — could start in March when basketball season ends, said Business Administrator Leon Wilcox. Other projects include a roof replacement at Ridgecrest Elementary, turf replacement at Corner Canyon High, lighting upgrades at Canyon View and Brookwood elementary schools, a water line and carpet replacements at Copperview Elementary, an irrigation system replacement at Lone Peak and Altara elementary schools. In addition, about $1 million in grant- and ESSR III-funded projects include playground-equipment upgrades at Bella Vista, Canyon View and Lone Peak elementary schools to make them ADA-compliant, a community center at Jordan High, and first-responder radio systems at Alta and Hillcrest high schools are planned. Under consideration in 2024 is a tennis-court resurfacing project at Brighton High, a retaining wall at Lone Peak Elementary, and sidewalk replacement at Oakdale Elementary, a possible track and turf resurfacing at Hillcrest High, a relocation of the fuel tanks at the bus barn, and irrigation, lighting and parking lot improvements across the District. The Corner Canyon High soccer fields also are on the list of potential projects. The District is reviewing engineering options due to the high water table.
As a result of low enrollment numbers, the Administration is proposing to move Canyons Online from a school to a program for K-8 classes. At last count, said Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, 62 students are enrolled in kindergarten through fifth-grade classes. Some 113 students are enrolled in sixth- through eighth-grade classes. It’s not financially feasible to continue operating Canyons Online as it is currently staffed, Wilcox said. Under a proposed plan to reconfigure Canyons Online, remote-learning options for families would continue but with different instructional models. As COVID-19-related funds expire, Wilcox said, the District will need to make strategic budgetary decisions. An evaluation of all District Office support positions, both certified and ESP, will be completed. Non-payroll expenses also will be scrutinized. The Board will continue to work with the Administration on a proposed budget for the upcoming school.
The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes for the Board meeting on Nov. 15, 2022; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids, student-overnight travel requests; the 2021-2022 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and related audit reports; approval of Local Education Agency licenses and endorsements.
The 900-student Midvale Middle achieved gains on last year’s student-learning assessments, said Principal Mindy Robison. On the RISE exams, she said, English-Language Arts scores rose 7 percent, mathematics scores went up more than 9 percent, and science scores bumped up 4.9 percent. In addition, some 12 percent of multi-language learners made adequate yearly progress. Robison said the faculty and staff have worked hard to create a culture of high expectations and fun. Robison thanked the Board for the investment in the new school, which was rebuilt with funds from the voter-approved $250 million bond in 2010, and the after-school program, which required additional staff members. Robison said a student-services team of counselors, social workers, school psychologists, and community facilitators, provides valuable mental health supports. The school is focusing on increasing attendance.
The Board of Education continues to review policies governing Conduct on Buses and School Library Materials Selection and Review.
The following patrons addressed the Board during Patron Comment. Recordings of their remarks can be accessed on BoardDocs.
- Mike Hart
- Cathy Collins
- Megan Jay
- Stacie Petersen
External Relations Director Charlie Evans and Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards presented information about the upcoming General Session of the Utah Legislature. The Board also discussed its legislative priorities, including an opposition to any re-direction of taxpayer funds to private-education enterprises. The Utah legislature will meet in general session from Jan. 17 to March 3.
The following were recognized for their achievements:
- Corner Canyon High football team, second-place, UHSAA 6A football championship
- Jimena Gutierrez, Jordan High, artist of 2022 Canyons District Holiday Card
- Midvale Elementary students chosen to decorate tree at Governor’s Mansion
Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports
Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins reminded the Board about a scheduled Jan. 7 presentation at the annual conference of the Utah School Boards Association regarding CSD’s Strategic Plan creation process.
Mr. Wilcox noted the upcoming retirements of Ms. Michelle Shimmin, the first-ever principal of Canyons Online; IT’s Dave Heywood; and Energy Conservation Coordinator Chris Eppler. Wilcox also welcomed Ms. Karen Pedersen and Mr. Andrew Edtl, who attended USBA new-member training, to the Board.
Board of Education Reports
Mrs. Amber Shill thanked Pedersen and Edtl for attending the USBA training.
Mrs. Holly Neibaur welcomed Pedersen and Edtl and expressed appreciation for CSD custodians. She also thanked teachers who have been singled out as favorites by students with whom she has spoken.
Mr. Steve Wrigley noted the Superintendent’s Listening Tour of faculty meetings. He noted the progress of the life-skills curriculum.
Mrs. Amanda Oaks reported on an education conference where it was noted that Utah schools have not experienced as much learning loss as other states that did not focus on in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. She commented on a workshop about evidence-based mathematics instruction. She also attended a “Shark Tank” competition among students at Corner Canyon High.
Mrs. Clareen Arnold thanked patrons and staff who remain at Board meeting.
Mr. Mont Millerberg said the Canyons Board of Education has earned the USBA’s Master Board Certification. He also noted the reports indicating Utah students did not suffer a huge drop in learning during COVID-19 years. He lauded the accounting department for a clean audit of the District’s finances and the work of the Strategic Plan “Opportunity and Access” subcommittee.
President Tingey wished the community a nice evening.