Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items
A downswing in COVID-19 cases among students and employees, the loosening of coronavirus-related guidance by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and Utah’s pending shift from an “emergency response” to a “steady state” has prompted a major operational shift for Canyons. Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins announced that, starting Wednesday, March 2, all CSD schools and central offices will be operating in “Tier 1”— the least restrictive step in the District’s emergency response plan that was created to give operational guidance to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. “By no means am I saying COVID-19 is over,” he said, “but we’re hoping this will be the last time I give a COVID-19 update during Board meeting.” The move to Tier 1 across CSD comes just short of the two-year anniversary of then-Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s decision to temporarily dismiss classes to stem the spread of COVID-19. Herbert’s announcement followed by two days the World Health Organization’s declaration on March 11, 2020 that COVID-19 had become a global pandemic. Dr. Robins noted the efforts that have been taken by the Board and Administration, at times against great criticism, to preserve in-person instruction. During his presentation for the Board of Education, Dr. Robins also showed an empty vial of the vaccine from CSD’s first-ever COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic held last spring. He said that, to him, it served as a symbol of hope and the start of the end of COVID-19 responses. Moving forward, in Tier 1, schools will largely operate as normal. “It’s amazing that we are at this point,” Dr. Robins said. As in any other year, custodians will clean high-touch areas regularly, and classrooms, bathrooms, cafeterias, and hallways will be thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis. Canyons will continue emphasizing the importance of hand-washing and staying home if ill. Hand-sanitizer also will remain available in schools. Even as protocols are relaxed, Robins said Canyons does not want to lose any ground in the effort to return to as-close-to-normal-as-possible operations. CSD will continue using many of the measures adopted in the past two years to mitigate coronavirus infections. This includes top-of-the-line MERV-13 air filters, touchless water fountains, and regular electrostatic spraying with hospital-grade detergents. While in-person student attendance also has rebounded to typical levels since the height of the omicron surge at the beginning of January, Canyons teachers will continue to update their Canvas pages. CSD’s transition in its pandemic response, including phasing out the COVID-19 Data Dashboard, comes as federal and state officials adopt new COVID-19 reporting strategies. As of March 31, the state will move away from reporting the number of daily positive COVID-19 cases in favor of informing the public about weekly hospitalization rates and deaths. The state also has closed COVID-19 testing sites, and Canyons no longer is offering the free drive-thru testing clinic because of a lack of participation. Instead, those experiencing symptoms are encouraged to seek care from a private medical provider. In response to falling numbers, the CDC now is saying it’s OK for Americans living in low- and medium-risk counties, including school children, to stop wearing face masks indoors. Roughly 63 percent of all counties in the U.S., including Salt Lake County, fall into moderate-risk categories, under the new COVID-19 guidance issued last week. In essence, the CDC has shifted the framework it uses for advising people when to mask. Instead of relying solely on case counts, the new system also takes into account such indicators of severe disease as COVID-19 hospital admissions, deaths, and hospital capacity. The CDC also announced that, effective, Feb. 25, it no longer requires the use of face masks on buses or vans operated by public or private school systems. If cases begin to rise again, Robins said, Canyons will turn to its already-established response plan. Under the plan, CSD will take into consideration the operational capacity of schools, absentee rates of students and employees, and the ability to find substitute workers to support critical school functions before taking mitigating steps, such as strongly encouraging masks, stepping up cleaning and sanitation tasks, and postponing assemblies. Calling for a Remote-Learning Day would be the final step in a process of monitoring a school’s ability to stay open and provide educational services to students.
The Canyons Board of Education and Administration are pleased to announce the following administrative appointments for the 2022-2023 school year:
- Linda Hall, an Instructional Coach, will be promoted to Administrator of Special Education. She will replace Nate Edvalson, who was previously promoted to Director of the Special Education Department.
- Dr. Matt Watts, currently principal of Mount Jordan Middle, will also be joining the Special Education Department as an administrator. He will replace Tifny Iacona.
- Iacona will become the Assistant Principal at the new Glacier Hills Elementary.
- Marielle Rawle, an Assistant Principal at Brighton High, will transfer to Corner Canyon High. She will replace Christian Cowart who will, in turn, transfer to Brighton.
- Corner Canyon Assistant Principal Sara Little will move to Jordan High, replacing Assistant Principal Mary Simao who will become an Assistant Principal at Brighton. Simao will replace Ryan Durrant.
- Durrant is being promoted to Principal of Mount Jordan High, replacing Dr. Watts.
- Misty Jolley, a counselor at Corner Canyon High, will take a position as the Chargers’ Assistant Principal, replacing Sara Little.
- Katie Campbell, an MTSS specialist, will be Assistant Principal at Hillcrest High, replacing Jan Hansen, who is retiring.
- Andrew Yawn, a behavior specialist, has been named an Assistant Principal at Hillcrest High. He is replacing Brenda McCann.
- McCann is being promoted to Principal at Union Middle. She is replacing Kelly Tauteoli, who was previously appointed an Administrator in Human Resources.
- Randall Seltz, now an Assistant Principal at Draper Park Middle, will transfer to Mount Jordan Middle as an Assistant Principal. He replaces Sierra Segura who will, in turn, transfer to Draper Park.
- Granite Elementary Principal Ronnie Mulqueen will transfer to Draper Elementary, replacing Christy Waddell, who is retiring.
- Elcena Saline, the Principal at Edgemont Elementary, will replace Mulqueen as the Principal at Granite.
- Instructional Coach Aimee Wagner is being promoted to Assistant Principal at Copperview Elementary. She will replace Cassie Kapes, who is relocating in another state with her family.
Employee One-Time Bonus
In recognition of the heightened challenges faced this year by Canyons employees, and in appreciation for their professionalism and hard work, the Canyons Board of Education and Administration announced they are awarding a one-time bonus to all contracted employees. The pressures of operating in a pandemic have been compounded this year to supply-chain issues, acute staffing shortages, and inflationary pressures, which have added to the stress and workload for everyone. Yet through it all, CSD’s administrators, teachers, and support staff have shown grace and resilience, showing up for students with a fierce dedication and caring hearts. The bonus will be $300 for all contracted employees and will be prorated based on their FTE status of March 1. ESP hourly employees will receive $150 regardless of hours worked and must be employed as of March 1. The bonus will be paid on the March 31 paycheck in the hopes that employees can put the money to use over Spring Recess and break away to relax and recreate with their families and loved ones.
Bell Schedule Study
Two studies are examining bell schedules in the Canyons District. The Administration is contracting with Edulog, the firm routing software contractor, to study both a later start time for Mount Jordan and Draper Park middle schools and the potential for a districtwide late-start or early dismissal one day of the week for teacher collaboration and planning. For the first study, at issue is whether the start times for Mount Jordan and Draper Park middle schools could feasibly be pushed back from 7:30 a.m. to at least 7:50 a.m. or an 8:30 a.m. start time. The study will advise the Board of Education on the impact the change could have on neighboring schools’ transportation schedules, possible cost increases, and whether the changes could be accommodated with the current levels of staffing. CSD’s Department of School Performance asks for time in the March 15 meeting to provide a detailed presentation on the second proposed study. The District Administration indicates the studies could be done in time for the March 29 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education.
External Relations Director Charlie Evans thanked Board members, patrons, and public-education advocates for joining in strong opposition of HB0331, which would have diverted $36 million in public funds to private school enterprises. The so-called “voucher bill” was defeated Monday on a 22-53 vote.
Three days remain in the 2022 General Session of the Utah Legislature, and a few education-related bills, such as HB372, appear likely to pass. Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards told the Board that the bill has been revised considerably from the original format. Still, it retains a definition of “criminal pornography” for materials, including library books, that would be outlawed by the bill. Updates were presented on several other education-related bills, as well.
The Board of Education approved a bond resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of not more than $55 million aggregate principal amount of refunding bond series 2022B and related matters. The refunding will save millions in taxpayer dollars, according to the reported provided to the Board of Education. A sale of the taxable refunded bonds is tentatively scheduled for March 22.
Board members accepted speaking assignments at commencement exercises for the Class of 2022. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bob Dowdle said COVID-19 restrictions have relaxed to the point where graduation ceremonies will return to pre-pandemic operations.
The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes of the workshop on Feb. 15, 2022: minutes of the business meeting on Feb. 15, 2022; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student-overnight travel requests; administrative assignment changes; TSSP and LAND Trust amendments for East Sandy and East Midvale elementary schools; and continuation of Canyons Online program for K-8 students.
The Board of Education discussed the latest draft of the strategic plan, which has been under review by a subcommittee made up of Board members Amanda Oaks, Clareen Arnold, and Holly Neibaur and Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins. Board President Nancy Tingey indicated she would work with the Office of Public Communication to hone the language in the proposed plan before the next step is taken.
Edgemont Elementary Principal Elcena Saline remarked on the kindness of the students at her school. She noted the students who have befriended the boys and girls in the accommodated core classes. Saline also said the school, which closes after this school year, is redoubling its efforts to ensure that all student feel safe and welcome on campus, which is temporarily the old Crescent View Middle building while the new Glacier Hills Elementary facility is being built. The Edgemont and Bell View communities will soon be blended to form the new Glacier Hills school community. The new school opens in fall 2022.
Six patrons addressed the Board as part of the Patron Comment portion of the meeting. Recordings of the remarks can be accessed at BoardDocs. They are:
- Parent Erin Seibel
- Parent Jeremiah Brown
- Parent Vanessa Croshaw
- Parent Wendy Smith
- Parent Chad Smith
- Parent Kristina Smith
Diversity and Inclusion Training
The firm Sunlight Works will provide diversity and inclusion training to Canyons administrators. Topics in the training include trust, conflict management, accountability, network building, problem-solving, psychological safety, and inclusive leadership.
School Fee Update
The Board of Education is beginning its annual review of a school-fee schedule for the 2022-2023 academic year. Business Administrator Leon Wilcox said the state does not provide funding to replace lost fee revenues. Proposed legislation, HB211, would eliminate the District from charging for general fees, field trip fees, cost of consumables, cost of textbooks for concurrent enrollment courses, Wilcox said. Under the proposed fee schedule for the coming year, the high school aggregate will remain at $5,000 and the middle school aggregate will remain at $500. The Board will continue to review the proposed fee schedule.
The following students, faculty and staff were recognized by the Board of Education:
- Draper Park Middle science teacher Jenn Muir, selected as an Airborn Astronomy Ambassador
- Recipients of Academic All-State Awards for Winter Sports
- Brighton and Corner Canyon high school students who won state titles in swimming and wrestling
Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports
Dr. Robins told the Board CSD has received the certification of accreditation.
Mr. Wilcox thanked first lady Abby Cox for visiting with Canyons representatives about an upcoming conference in support of teachers. He also noted Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s address during the JLC about teacher morale. He noted the defeat of HB0331.
Board of Education Member Reports
Mrs. Holly Neibaur remarked on the process to write CSD’s proposed strategic plan. She also noted the attendance of Dr. Robins and Mr. Wilcox at a Draper Park Middle School Community Council meeting.
Mr. Steve Wrigley expressed his excitement about the pending completion of a strategic plan. He thanked teachers, administrators and Education Support Professionals, as well as families, for persevering during the recent challenging times.
Mrs. Amanda Oaks thanked Dr. Robins for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also expressed appreciation for President Tingey’s quiet leadership, calm demeanor, and work ethic, especially during the legislative session.
Mrs. Amber Shill appreciates the work for both President Tingey, who works as hard or harder than anyone in CSD, and Dr. Robins, who started his post at a challenging time. She stated she’s excited about the strategic plan.
Mr. Mont Millerberg reported on participating in the Canyons Education Foundation’s “2.22.22 Fun Run in a Tutu,” which raised $11,000 for teachers and students. He also attended Canyons’ Peer Court. He remarked on the personal and CSD operational difficulties presented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Tingey said she shares the excitement about the strategic plan, and stated it’s a privilege to serve the CSD community. She said she’s grateful for the public-education advocates who spoke out against HB0331.