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Getting Involved

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mountview Property Development Explored

The Board is examining the possibility of partnering with Cottonwood Heights City to redevelop the Mountview Elementary property, to help fund a larger auditorium at the new Butler Middle School, and to create tennis courts on city property adjacent to Cottonwood Heights Elementary. The District is taking bids now to demolish the vacant Mountview Elementary school, and is expected to present recommendations to the Board in its March 22 meeting.

Under a potential city partnership, the Mountview property could be converted into four soccer fields and other open space, which would help Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center and Salt Lake County accommodate little league football, soccer, and lacrosse during the reconstruction of Butler Middle School and provide community field space afterward. The Board will discuss costs of demolishing the building and adding sod and watering systems, and the terms of a potential partnership with the City and Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center.

Proposed Butler Middle School Designs Presented

The Board received design proposals for Butler Middle School that will be presented to the school’s Design Committee. Proposed designs include separate wings for all grades, including placing the sixth grade on the second level to address parent concerns with grade reconfiguration. The gym would have an exterior entrance leading to the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center, which provides P.E. opportunities for students. The building would contain several windows for natural light throughout. The auditorium also would have an exterior entrance and a plaza area. Parking would accommodate 420 vehicles — more than double the current parking slots. Green space would be nearly 2 additional acres larger than the current configuration, and include three regulation-sized fields for soccer and lacrosse. The auditorium would seat 1,000; Cottonwood Heights City has expressed interest in shouldering costs to make it bigger. The Board accepted the information; designs will be presented at a community meeting and solidified following public input.

Board Receives ‘Active Shooter’ Safety Presentation

The Board expressed interest in proceeding with an Active Shooter training, sponsored by the Utah School Boards Association and supported by law enforcement and emergency preparedness officials from Sandy, Draper, and Cottonwood Heights. The training, which the Board viewed in a video taken at a South Summit High School training event, involves some 200 volunteer students and faculty creating a mock emergency scenario in which a shooter opens fire in a school. The officers responding to the mock emergency are participating in S.W.A.T. training, but District and school officials also can use the exercise to improve emergency preparedness and response plans. Participating volunteers are debriefed afterward and can stop if the exercise becomes too stressful.

Special Education Classroom Needs Presented

Executive Director of Special Education Dr. Kathryn McCarrie asked the Board to prioritize space needs of special education students in bond building projects and potential boundary adjustments due to grade reconfiguration. Federal law mandates students with disabilities receive services with non-disabled peers whenever possible. Special education services may require special classroom space, such as physical therapy, adaptive P.E., or nursing services. Canyons also provides more intense special education services in cluster units placed at various schools. Dr. McCarrie suggested providing special education services in classrooms as close as possible to students’ home communities, and recommended an additional high school cluster unit. She also expressed a need to replace the Jordan Resource Center at Midvale Elementary, which serves students with serious emotional needs, and added she is negotiating to continue the service partnership with Jordan School District. She also proposed moving cluster units from either Bella Vista or Ridgecrest to Oak Hollow Elementary, and Butler Elementary clusters to a more central location such as Altara Elementary. Dr. McCarrie has provided this information to the Boundary Steering Committee to inform their recommendations.

Legislative Update

Executive Director of Government Relations and Chief of Staff Charles Evans updated the Board on some of the 71 education bills — out of 115 introduced — that passed in the 2011 Legislative Session. His team worked with legislators to fine-tune bills including the school-grading bill and the K-3 reading bill. Lawmakers also passed a bill to eliminate districts from considering seniority in layoffs and to allow per-student dollars to transfer to public institutions from which the student receives online education. Board President Tracy Cowdell suggested looking into providing online education in a District-chartered school, which could help students earn one of Canyons’ career- and college-ready Advanced or Honors diplomas. While lawmakers funded enrollment growth, CFO Keith Bradford noted Canyons faces a reduction of up to $3.5 million in state funds because lawmakers changed the way state money is distributed to districts.

Patron Comments

Three Cottonwood Heights residents — Woody Noxon; William McCarvill, President of CH Voters citizen advocacy group; and James A. Kromer, who has a background in investment banking  — asked the Board not to participate in a proposed Cottonwood Heights CDA at the former Snowbird Racquet Club site due to financial concerns and the possibility of deferring tax dollars that could go to public education if the property were otherwise developed. President Cowdell said the City has not presented the Board with the proposal, but invited the men to return, listen and provide input should the item be placed on the agenda.

Board Action

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the March 1 minutes; student overnight travel for Alta Football and CTE ProStart; 2011-2012 school calendar modification to accommodate later secondary parent-teacher conferences and adjust compensatory and teacher development days; purchasing bids, February financial reports; home school affidavit; and February Board hires and terminations. Bids for demolition on the Mountview property will be presented to the Board next week.

Superintendent’s Report

The Retirement Banquet will be May 10 at Hidden Valley Country Club; Canyons District day at Real Salt Lake is Saturday, May 7, with the game at 2 p.m. and Canyons students performing at the Carnival Stage from noon to 1:30 p.m. The District also has received the highest possible bond rating of Aaa from Moody’s Investors, and a AA+ — the second-highest rating — from Fitch Ratings; Dr. Doty praised Mr. Bradford’s prudent planning to help secure the rating. Twelve schools are gearing up to pilot using Facebook for academic and communication purposes in the remainder of the school year. District officials are working to require passwords to limit the time a student or teacher can be on Facebook during the school day, and create training for teachers and students to use the this unique social media platform safely and effectively.

CFO Report

Mr. Bradford called the District’s Aaa and AA+ bond ratings astonishing, considering the District has operated just two years and has a limited financial history. Rating agencies cited low debt burden, healthy fund balances and well-funded pension and other post-retirement benefits for employees among reasons for the high bond rating.

Board Reports

Mont Millerberg recommended discussing the possibility of hosting an Active Shooter training in the April Board meeting.

President Cowdell thanked Vice President Sherril Taylor for officiating last Board Meeting in his stead while he recovered from illness. He noted next week’s meeting will last just 15 minutes, and said Board Members could attend via conference call if needed. The Board is expected to address the resolution from bond counsel and Mountview demolition bids.

Kevin Cromar attended the Eastmont production of “The Music Man,” and praised the students’ high-quality performance.

Kim Horiuchi noted the Mountview property was taken off the consent agenda to wait for demolition bids, which are expected to come before the Board next week.

Steve Wrigley spent time at Midvale Middle School, where he enjoyed interacting with students and learning about the SALTA program.

Closed Session

The Board met in closed session for the purpose of discussing collective bargaining and the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual.

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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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