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Getting Involved

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013

Employees to Receive Bonus in November Paychecks

The Board unanimously approved giving every full-time employee a $1,000 one-time bonus. The bonuses for part-time and hourly employees will be adjusted according to the hours they are assigned to work. Employees can expect to see this bonus in their November paychecks.

Board President Sherril Taylor read the following statement regarding the bonus:

“It’s no secret that the Board of Education believes that the very best employees in Utah public education are found in Canyons District. We’re grateful for the dedication that is shown across the District every day. From the teacher who spends extra time with a struggling student, to the bus driver who greets every child with a smile, to the custodian who takes great pride in the cleanliness of classrooms, Canyons District is made up of people who help us maintain a culture of excellence.

“In addition to our heartfelt thanks, the members of the Board of Education would like to financially reward our employees for their outstanding work, especially over the past year. Indeed, we have asked a lot of our employees, and we’ve been heartened with what we’ve seen. We’ve witnessed a collective willingness to accept the challenge, roll up your sleeves and go to work. In addition to the daily tasks that are required to operate our schools, Canyons employees successfully put into place a districtwide grade reconfiguration; implemented dozens of boundary changes; opened three new schools; finished additions at two high schools; put the finishing touches on a new standards-based elementary school report card; started using a new middle school schedule; and challenged teachers to start using a new standards-based curricula.

“To express our appreciation for successfully implementing these changes, the Board of Education is pleased to announce that we are giving every full-time employee a $1,000 one-time bonus. The bonuses for part-time and hourly employees will be adjusted according to the hours they are assigned to work. Employees can expect to see this bonus in their November paychecks.

“We are able to provide this bonus because of our prudent fiscal policies, which is another sign that our employees are going above and beyond in their efforts to build a district of distinction. We’re inspired by the exemplary commitment of our employees. Because of your dedication, Canyons District is rapidly building a reputation as a forward-thinking district that lives up to its motto of ‘Preparing students, building the public.’ Thank you for all you do on behalf of the students who attend our schools. We wish you the best during this school year and beyond. Together, we can succeed in getting all of our students ready for college and careers.”

Superintendent Search Timeline Adjusted

The Board voted to expand the timeline for the search for the superintendent. Board Member Kim Horiuchi said the new timeline allows the job to be posted longer, which will be important if the Board desires a national search. The search consultant has begun scheduling input meetings with School Community Councils, and soon will receive input on the characteristics and qualifications that the new superintendent should possess. Consultant Rickie McCandless said she hopes to have Web tools available to the public by next week.

To listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2D.

Board Action

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which included the Sept. 17 Minutes; Purchasing Bids; Superintendent Search Timeline; Adult Education and Membership Audit Reports for 2013; and Bond Ratings Reports. It approved overnight travel for students in the following high school groups: Alta Academic Decathlon and Cheer; Brighton Boys and Girls Swim; Hillcrest Debate; Jordan AVID and Band/Choir.

For details, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 7.

The Board unanimously voted to approve the employee bonus.

The Board agreed to host the 2016 National Debate Tournament.

The Board agreed to change the November meeting to Nov. 19, rather than hold the meeting on municipal election night and parent teacher conferences.

Students, Employees Honored

The Board recognized the following employees, schools and students for their achievements:

– Bovey Rao, Samantha Bemis, Amy Zhan, Hillcrest, Second Place, Senior Group Exhibit, Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest
– Peter Johnston, Hillcrest junior, Perfect ACT score
– Butler, Crescent, Oakdale, Park Lane, Quail Hollow, Ridgecrest, Sprucewood, and Sunrise elementary schools and Draper Park and Mount Jordan middle schools, President’s Education Awards Program
– David Duffin, Alta High, Utah PTA Presidential Student Service Silver Award
– Ashley Edwards, Corner Canyon High, Utah PTA Presidential Student Service Gold Award
– Dr. Floyd Stensrud, Indian Hills principal, 2013 UACTE Administrator of the Year
– Carl Colby, Hillcrest cellist, All-National Honor Orchestra, National Association for Music Education. Colby also performed for the Board.

To listen to the presentation, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 5A.

Employee Retention Report

The Board received a report from Human Resources Director Steve Dimond, who suggested incentives to continue to attract and retain talented employees. Current recruitment efforts target national teacher job fairs and Utah universities, and include selling points such as Canyons’ access professional development, new teacher orientation, teacher mentors and coaches, and technology and instructional support, access to nearby higher education institutions and recreational activities. Other key areas for teacher retention are appreciation and recognitions, compensation and benefits. Dimond recommended putting in place an early retirement/resignation incentive to allow time for recruitment efforts; signing bonuses; stipends for teachers in highly impacted schools and critical shortage areas such as science, technology and math. He also would like to improve surveys to give more detail as to why employees resign; currently, the majority leave for family or personal reasons.

For details or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2E.

Lagoon Day Discussed

The Board discussed whether to provide a Lagoon Day for eighth-graders. Previous policy contained an annual Lagoon Day for ninth-graders. The policy was repealed last April based on the Board’s adoption of the new middle school schedule, current administrative practice in middle schools, and the movement of the ninth grade into high schools. The Board was presented with options, including a Lagoon day, a service activity for eighth-graders, an alternative activity, or no activity. Supervisory and financial issues associated with an activity day were discussed, as were the positive aspects of Lagoon Day as a fun rite of passage for adolescents before they move on to high school. The Board wants to receive input from the community, particularly from its Student Advisory Council to inform future discussions.

To listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2B.

Patron Comments

Silver Mesa parent Marcie Ambrose said she wants the middle school Dual-Immersion Spanish-English program to be at Albion Middle School instead of Union Middle School next year. She believes the Board used overstated enrollment numbers to make the location decision. She said her family purchased their home so they could go to Albion, which has higher test scores, and ultimately prefers her children to attend Albion, even if it doesn’t include Dual Immersion.

Silver Mesa parent Quinn Silcox also said she believed the Board used overstated Dual Immersion enrollments when making its decision to place the middle school program at Union. She suggested looking at the number of out-of-boundary students attending Albion and revisiting the decision.

To listen to the comments, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 6A.

Interim Superintendent’s Report

Interim Superintendent Dr. Ginger Rhode praised employees’ hard work, and said she appreciated the Board’s generosity in recognizing employee efforts.

Interim CFO Report

Interim Business Administrator Leon Wilcox reported on the Sept. 24 sale of $60 million in bonds. The District secured an interest rate of 3.59 percent in the sale. The interest rate, which was lower than the anticipated 3.8 percent, coupled with the District’s AAA bond rating, resulted in a savings to taxpayers of $2.3 million. Additionally, because the bond was so attractive to prospective buyers, the District received an additional $3 million in the sale.

Board Reports

Chad Iverson expressed appreciation for the teachers and staff, and he hopes the bonus helps employees, particularly during the holiday season.

Tracy Scott Cowdell said he appreciates employees, and noted the irony of the Board-approved bonus against the backdrop of the federal government shutdown that furloughed thousands of employees. He noted the Board is much closer to community than Washington, and that the Board has unanimous concern for the staff, and wishes it could do more to thank employees who worked diligently in a time of transition. He also said he hopes the Legislature will give more money to the state’s per-student funding formula, the WPU, so additional compensation could be given to hard-working educators.

Steve Wrigley noted his appreciation for employees and said he hopes the one-time bonus will be of help to them and their families. He enjoyed attending Alta High’s constitutional event, created by teacher Rique Ochoa. He wondered whether the Board should discuss SALTA and Dual Immersion, adding he has received quite a few e-mail messages about those matters. He said he believes parents want more information.

Nancy Tingey noted a Board training session is coming Thursday evening. She said it was her privilege to attend the Mount Jordan groundbreaking ceremony last month. She praised the work of employees, and noted the work of each is important to the students of Canyons District.

Kim Horiuchi said she is grateful that the Board is able to recognize the good work of employees and expressed appreciation for employee contributions, particularly this year.
She noted she has been appointed to the Utah High School Activities Association’s financial committee. She noted that rosters and stats for high school teams are available online, and can be printed prior to games. She attended the Canyons School District Education Foundation Board meeting, and commended the Foundation for raising $69,000 at the golf tournament. She noted the Foundation will begin distributing competitive teacher innovation grants at the end of November. She enjoyed the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Bengal Building and the Mount Jordan groundbreaking event. She thanked the communications staff for their work to organize the Apex Awards, and appreciated the opportunity to honor former superintendent Dr. David Doty with the Apex Legacy Award. She thanked former Salt Lake Tribune reporter Ray Parker for his work to cover public education, and said she worries about the affect the newspaper’s layoffs will have on information to the public. She said the public needs news coverage of school boards and public education, which consistently is identified as the No. 1 issue in the state in public opinion polls. She wondered if the Board needs to have more discussion about the location of middle school Dual Immersion, as it was decided quickly. She also suggested the Board move its November meeting date to not coincide with Election Day and parent-teacher conferences.

Robert Green said Dual Immersion was placed at Union instead of Albion because of capacity issues, adding Albion was rebuilt to hold fewer students. He noted Union principal Mary Anderson is the 2013 Utah Middle School Principal of the Year, and is able to help students make great improvements in their learning. He noted Union has native Spanish speakers, which makes it an ideal place for a Dual Immersion Spanish program. Therefore, he said, he’s not sure the decision should be reopened. He also suggested Copperview Elementary someday would be a good Dual Immersion program expansion site because of its population resources. He recalled the book “Children of the Dustbowl,” which he read for a recent leadership conference. He said the book was about Oklahoma children whose families had to move to California because hard times had fallen on farmers. He said the children were treated as second-class citizens, so their families built their own school that the California natives ended up wanting to attend. He praised Midvalley Principal Jeff Nalwalker, who he said caught the Canyons vision of change and improvement and met or exceeded his school achievement goals. He said he believes all Canyons schools can become high-achieving schools. He congratulated Copperview volunteer Irv Eastham for receiving the Apex Volunteer of the Year Award.

President Sherril Taylor thanked employees for their hard work. He said he was proud to be a member of a Board that cares so deeply about students and employees.

Closed Session

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

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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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