Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.
The Board of Education considered steps Canyons District may need to take over the next two to three years to cut spending in anticipation of the expiration of federal pandemic-related emergency funds. All efforts will be made to preserve funding for schools and classrooms, said Business Administrator Leon Wilcox. Currently, the District is funding the equivalent of 57 full-time jobs with $4.5 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. Some belt-tightening will happen through natural employee turnover and attrition and through a re-direction of resources. The Administration is monitoring budget talks at the Utah legislature and may consider proposing a tax increase to help with increased labor and supply costs Due to post-pandemic declines in enrollment in Canyons Online, the program will move next year from a K-12 model to a program serving grades 4-12. Instruction for students in grades 4-5 will be parent-led with support from Canyons’ Success Coaches. Middle school classes will be taught by part-time adjunct teachers who will instruct core classes and a select number of electives. The high school model will remain in place with adjunct instructors as well. The proposal will save 11 licensed positions and two support staff positions.
The Board of Education appointed Dr. McKay Robinson as Canyons’ new Assistant Superintendent. The announcement was made by Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins. Dr. Robinson succeeds Dr. Bob Dowdle, who has served in that capacity since December 2008. Dr. Robinson, currently a School Performan ce Director, will assume his new duties after Dr. Dowdle’s retirement this spring. In a short address to the Board of Education, Dr. Robinson said he was “humbled” at the opportunity to serve as CSD’s third-ever Assistant Superintendent.
External Relations Director Charlie Evans provided an update on the education-related issues being discussed at the 2023 General Session of the Utah Legislature. Evans indicated that revised revenue numbers for the fiscal year 2023-2024 were released today. Overall, he said, the General Fund, Income Tax and Transportation funds came “were flat overall,” but the Education Fund was down in ongoing and one-time money from the November projections. Evans said lawmakers are receiving some negative feedback on successful bill that created a voucher program in Utah, and so there is some will to make sure funding for education isn’t significantly impacted. However, he said, there is talk about a potential tax break, which could make it difficult for education to get an influx of funding this year. He also discussed bills regarding a criminal background checks and fees, among other issues.
A committee charged with examining future use of buildings and CSD-owned properties, plus the facility needs around Canyons, met last week to examine outstanding issues, including the declining enrollment in parts of CSD that has created excess capacity in the majority of Canyons middle and elementary schools. Business Administrator noted the Board and Administration may have some difficult discussions in the near future about the future of schools that are experiencing low enrollment. To that point, Wilcox noted a finding in a recent report by the Utah State Auditor’s Office on Salt Lake City School District. The report, he said, criticized the Salt Lake district for operating under-enrolled schools, calling it an unwise use of taxpayer funds. The committee, Wilcox said, also is examining capacity of buildings coupled with each community’s projected enrollment. Possible future topics of study for the committee include a potential sale of property, such as the land on which the Canyons Technical Education Center now stands, which could fund new-school construction or the upgrades of facilities. The committee proposes to hire a demographics firm to forecast future housing, family demographics, and expected student growth rates in the District’s boundaries. An engineering or architect firm also could be hired to conduct feasibility studies for the future of the old Crescent View Middle site and Eastmont Middle, which is in need of costly repairs in addition to asbestos and mercury abatement. Wilcox also said the committee may propose the Board evaluate options on the District-owned properties now leased to Midvale and Cottonwood Heights cities.
A current bill being debated by the Utah legislature could affect the timing of the public input on the proposed school fee schedules. While HB175 picks up where last year’s HB211 left off, CSD may need to move forward with seeking public input on the proposed schedule even before the end of the legislative session, when the current bill could be approved. The public notices may need to indicate that the school-fee proposals could be subject to changes in state law. Wilcox reminded the Board of Education that state law allows school districts to only charge fees for activities, instructional equipment or supplies, AP and IB exams, driver’s education courses, music instrument rentals, open-enrollment applications, competency remediation, and extracurricular activities. No other fees — including for registration, textbooks, concurrent and Advanced Placement courses, and classroom equipment that does not eventually become the property of the student — can be charged to families. For the coming school year, the fee aggregate for high school students will remain at $5,000. Middle school aggregates will remain at $500. No students were assessed fees in excess of those amounts in this school year, Wilcox said. Proposed fee schedules for all secondary schools, including the Canyons Technical Education Center, are currently being created, proposed and finalized. CSD is required by law to approve fee schedules by April 1.
Twenty-eight elementary schools and eight middle schools are participating in the field test of the Canyons-created life-skills curriculum, called Thrive Time, Student Services Director Dr. Brian McGill told the Board of Education. A communication campaign is underway to inform the community about the curriculum, which will help students build such skills as resiliency, kindness, and respect for self and others. In the presentation, which was an update on the “Human-Centered Support” focus area of the Strategic Plan, Dr. McGill aid that, according to student data, teenage vaping is still on the rise. What has decreased, he said, is the amount of teen physical activity and the perception of overall wellness. Among the wellness concerns for Utah students are mental-health issues such as depression and ideation of suicide. McGill reported that student use of SafeUT is down, and plans have already been made to promote the service to teens who may need the instant access to mental-health professionals at the University of Utah. McGill also noted CSD’s wellness supports for students through the school nursing program. The committee also is discussing how to support employee wellness, he said. A team from Canyons also recently attended the National Response and School Safety Conference, McGill said.
The following patrons addressed the Board during Patron Comment. Recordings of their remarks can be accessed on BoardDocs.
- Amanda McConnell
- Kirby Croyle
The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes from the Feb. 7, 2023 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel; January financial reports, School Community Council updates; Copperview Comprehensive School Improvement Plan and an interlocal agreement with the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center, and administrative appointments.
The following were recognized for their achievements:
- Hillcrest wrestlers Eliza and Eva Zimmerman, state champions in 5A girls wrestling. Eva won in the 100-pound category and Eliza won in the 120-pound. The Zimmermans are sisters and the first-ever state champions in girls wrestling from Hillcrest.
- Brighton high boys swimmers Drake Doyle, Austin Partridge, Gavin Smith, and Bridger Nielson, winners of the 5A 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
- Brighton swimmer Hanna Sasivarevic, 5A state champion in the 200 freestyle.
- Brighton’s Dylan Etherington, the first-ever Unified state champion in the 50 free.
- Brighton coach Todd Etherington, the 5A boys swim Coach of the Year.
- Corner Canyon student Jordan Barlow, first-ever Unified state champion in 50 and 100 mixed freestyle events.
- Corner Canyon student Konnor Spencer, state champion in 6A 100-butterfly event.
- Students from Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon, Hillcrest and Jordan who earned Academic All-State honors in winter sports.
Willow Springs Elementary Principal Marianne Watts reported to the board the high level of student achievement and parent involvement at her Draper-area school. When the school met a fund-raising goal, she said, the students were given the chance, in good spirits, to duct-tape her to the wall. Watts also lauded the 10-year partnership the school has with students at Corner Canyon High, who tutor and mentor the young Willow Springs students.