The Board of Education unanimously approved reducing the school year by five days in the 2010-2011 school year to help address a $13 million shortfall that is largely the result of the economic downturn. The five-day furlough is a one-time strategy to preserve jobs and maintain class sizes for the coming year. Superintendent David Doty noted that, upon talking with superintendent and school attorney colleagues throughout the country, he learned that school districts across the United States are reducing instructional days next year where authorized by the state. The furlough will affect all District employees (including the Superintendent and staff) and result in one-time savings of approximately $700,000 a day, or $3.5 million total for fiscal year 2010-2011. The eliminated school days, recommended by the District Calendar Committee of parents, teachers and administrators, will shutter all schools and District offices on the following dates: Sept. 13; Nov. 22 and 23; Feb. 14; and March 18. The days were chosen because they would be the least disruptive to student learning and could be spread throughout the year. The furlough is one of several cost-cutting strategies in the District’s $198 million budget, and is included in tentative contract agreements with the employee associations representing teachers and support personnel. The State Board of Education has authorized school districts to reduce the number of school days from 180 to 175 in the 2010-2011 school year to help balance their budgets, as long as the districts meet a required 963.5 hours of yearly instruction. Board President Tracy Scott Cowdell called the furlough an extraordinary remedy for an extraordinary circumstance. More detailed communication about the furlough days, to be distributed to parents and employees, is forthcoming.
New Midvalley Elementary Principal Named
Superintendent Doty announced Jeff Nalwalker as the new principal of Midvalley Elementary School. Mr. Nalwalker is currently Assistant Principal at Copperview Elementary, also in Canyons School District.
Student Achievement Plan Unveiled
Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ginger Rhode, along with Evidence-Based Learning, school achievement, state and federal programs, and career and technical education directors, presented Canyons’ Student Achievement Plan to the Board in Study Session. The plan addresses how the District will focus administrators, teachers, parents and students on ensuring all students are ready for college and careers by the time they graduate from Canyons high schools. Plans include aligning instruction, curriculum and assessment; teacher recruitment, support and retention strategies; and engaging communities and underrepresented groups. The five-year plan will be detailed further this summer.
Preschool Expansion Proposed
Karen Sterling, Director of State and Federal Programs; Dr. Kathryn McCarrie, Director of Special Education; and Early Childhood Education Coordinator Terri Mitchell explained a proposal to expand the preschool program in Title I schools. They said the proposed program would be funded by federal money targeted at disadvantaged populations and children who qualify for special education services.
Parent Bill Kendell expressed concern about high enrollment numbers in the Supporting All Learners Toward Achievement (SALTA) classes at Peruvian Park Elementary. Mr. Kendell urged the District to focus as much on advanced learners as it does on those who are struggling. He said there are frustrations with the Evidence-Based Learning Department, which oversees SALTA.
Parent Barbara Morrell voiced frustration at the anticipated student-teacher ratios in the SALTA program at Peruvian Park Elementary. She also said communication from the District about the testing process needs improvement.
Lisa Morley said two classes per grade would be more effective than one large SALTA class. She said her daughter excelled in a two-class program.
Jennifer Howell, who has children in Peruvian Park and Hillcrest High School, stated that class sizes in the SALTA program are too big. There isn’t enough time for one teacher to help all of the students.
Parent Stacey Kratz urged the Board to reduce staff salaries rather than increase student-teacher ratios in the SALTA program at Peruvian Park. She stated that she supports the direction of the District, but will find it hard to justify increased enrollments in classrooms.
The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes: May 4 minutes; purchasing bids; Licensed Negotiated Agreements; Educational Support Professionals’ Negotiated Agreements; April expense reports; Indian Hills Middle School LAND Trust Plan modification; Board hires and terminations; home school applications, and administrative appointments. The Board approved student travel for the Alta High Yearbook Staff and Student Government; Brighton High Volleyball; Hillcrest High Cheer and Song; Jordan High Cheer, Girls Tennis, Volleyball, Dance Company, Student Body Officers, Yearbook Staff, and Drill Team; and CTE FBLA. The Board also approved a modified school calendar.
Superintendent David Doty said the administration has given nearly 70 presentations to newspapers, schools, city councils, and communities about Canyons’ proposed $250 million, tax-rate-neutral bond that will be on the June 22 ballot. He thanked The Salt Lake Tribune for its editorial supporting the bond, and noted a District newsletter and voter information guide will be sent to residents in the next two weeks. Dr. Doty also thanked school nurses for their work in stemming the spread of H1N1, and the PTA and Canyons employee associations for their support. He also attended South Park Academy and Entrada adult high school commencements.
Board Member Reports
Kim Horiuchi was inspired by graduates and their families at the Entrada adult high school commencement, noting it was the adult high school’s first formal graduation ceremony. She also thanked the Communications Department and Mary Bailey, Director of K-16 Student Achievement in High Schools, for their work on the Retirees Banquet.
Kevin Cromar attended eight bond presentations; Park Lane Elementary’s 30th anniversary celebration; a Sandy Elementary concert; Granite Elementary’s America program; and a funeral where his wife, a teacher, was reunited with a former colleague from Cottonwood Heights Elementary. He announced an upcoming meeting of the arts consortium. He encouraged everyone to vote June 22 for the bond, which he called a vote for democracy by preserving neighborhood schools. He wants the State Board of Education nominating committee process to change.
President Cowdell praised Superintendent Doty and his team for Canyons School District’s successful inaugural year. He said while there have been bumps in the road, there are fewer now than there were during his previous board experience. He shared concerns expressed by SALTA parents about big class sizes, and suggested thinking about other options, including putting the programs back into the neighborhood schools. He also congratulated graduating seniors.
Paul McCarty was inspired by the graduates at South Park Academy at the Utah State Prison, as the commencement marked the first success in the lives of many of the inmates.
Mont Millerberg welcomed Board Vice President Sherril Taylor’s return following surgery. He noted morale in the District is good. He attended the East Midvale Elementary bond presentations and interprets their sparse attendance as good news, as such meetings often lure opponents. He praised Union Middle School’s Bobcat Scholar Banquet and was touched by Jordan Valley School’s student transition ceremony. He praised the Retirees Banquet and guests of honor for their service to children.