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Getting Involved

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013

Academic Achievement on the Rise

Canyons students are increasing achievement in reading and math and the number of students achieving ACT benchmark scores and college- and career-ready diplomas, but resources may need to be prioritized to help students who struggle, some Board members said.

The District’s academic structure is aligned with the Utah governor’s goals to have 66 percent of all working-age Utah’s holding a post-secondary certificate or degree, which also aligns with Prosperity 2020 goals to improve education and Utah’s economic success, Pettersson said.

In reading last spring, 82 percent of elementary, 85 percent of middle school and 91 percent of high school students met benchmark — a good start to the 90 percent reading proficiency goal upheld by the governor. Since 2009, elementary students showed a 10 percentage-point gain on the Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM) in reading, and a 3 to 4 percentile-point gain on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills in reading in third and fifth grades, said Amber Roderick-Landward, Director of Evidence-Based Learning in Elementary Schools.

In math, 80 percent of students scored as proficient in elementary, 84 percent were proficient in middle schools, and 55 percent were proficient in high school (where advanced students are not tested). The governor’s goal is 90 percent. Since 2009, elementary math CBM test performance rose 9 percentage points, and the ITBS scores increased 13 percentage points in fifth grade and 7 percentage points in third grade with the help of new curriculum and achievement coaches.

Pettersson noted all Canyons students take the ACT test, exceeding the governor’s goal of 90 percent, and that two-thirds of the Class of 2013 earned a Canyons Advanced or Honors diploma, indicating completion of rigorous classes and college-readiness. This exceeds the District goal of 50 percent of students earning the diplomas at this time. Numbers of students meeting at least one ACT benchmark score has improved by 7 percentage points in the past three years, Pettersson said, but she expressed concern for students meeting no benchmarks. Concerns also were expressed about graduation rate gaps between student ethnicity and income levels. Several Board members expressed concern about the gaps. Horiuchi called on the Board to prioritize resources to help students who struggle.

For more information or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 7A.

Secondary Standards-Based Reporting Information

The District has been exploring possible implementation of standards-based reporting in secondary schools. The discussion continues following the Board’s spring adoption of the Standards-Based I-CANyons report card for elementary students for this school year.

Discussions have been ongoing among school leaders since the 2010-2011 school year, when middle school principals studied current letter grading practices and the concept of standards-based reporting. At that time, principals voted unanimously to plan for implementation of a standards-based reporting system following grade reconfiguration in fall 2013. This fall, two middle schools conducted a brief pilot, and principals and District administrators nominated individuals to serve on a 38-member Secondary Standards-Based Reporting Work Group. The group’s first meeting is Oct. 29.

The idea is to communicate accurately and effectively to parents about student performance, and prevent the disconnect between letter grades and performance, for example, on the Advanced Placement tests, said Dr. Hollie Pettersson, Director of Evidence-Based Learning in Secondary Schools. She said is it the next step in standards-based instruction, which has been part of education since the late 1990s. She said the secondary standards-based reporting drafting process will include parent input and focus groups. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie said the process also will include communication with universities. Board Member Tracy Cowdell said the final product will require careful planning for implementation and rollout to the public to be effective.

For more information or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2D.

FTE Allocation and Budgeting Report

As part of early budgeting, the academic and school performance teams requested the Board consider funding an additional 33.5 FTE to best meet the needs of students as they prepare for college and careers. Additional FTE would support students in elementary SALTA and dual immersion; middle school dual immersion and teaming; and high school International Baccalaureate and the Canyons Virtual High School, and provide for the FTE cushion to adapt to student needs. The request would be for the 2014-2015 school year, and cost about $1.1 million.

For more information or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2A.

Policy Task Forces Update

A task force will be created to align procedures within existing Student Discipline and Safe Schools policies. The task force’s work will inform the Nondiscrimination Policy Task Force, created in February 2013 to advise the Board and Administration on issues that needed to be addressed in District policy. The task force had met over three months, received feedback from principals, and established a tentative timeline to address definitions, complaint procedures, reporting structures, investigations, alignment with existing policies, training and implementation issues. It will continue its work after procedures in the other policies have been aligned.

For more information or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs  and click Agenda Item 2B.

Board Procedures Update

Board members Nancy Tingey and Chad Iverson presented a proposed Board Procedures and Ethics policy. The proposed policy was crafted over several months and followed recommendations by legal counsel. The Board wants to make clear that it will take public comment for a budget hearing, truth-in -taxation hearing, and board member compensation adjustments, in accordance with the statute, and chooses to exceed the requirement and receive public comment in its meetings because it is beneficial in policy discussions and decision-making processes. Staff was directed to ensure public awareness and clarity on the public participation processes.

For more information or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2C.

Board Action

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the Oct. 1 Minutes; Purchasing Bids; Board Hire and Termination Reports; September Financial Reports; Home School Affidavit; and the Board Procedures Policy. The Board also approved Student Overnight Travel for Alta Band/Orchestra, Brighton Model UN, and Jordan Academic Decathlon.

For more information or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 6.

The Board approved the Utah Consolidated Application.

The Board set the following committee assignments for its members: Robert Green: Salt Lake County Recreation Board, Mount Jordan Master Plan; Kim Horiuchi: Utah High School Activities Association, Superintendent Search Committee, Audit Committee; Second Vice President Nancy Tingey: Utah School Boards Association, Board Procedures, Superintendent Search Committee; Chad Iverson: Canyons School District Education Foundation, Board Procedures, Audit Committee; Vice President Steve Wrigley: District Arts Consortium; Tracy Cowdell: Mount Jordan Master Plan, Superintendent Search; President Sherril Taylor: RDA, CDA.

Patron Comments

Cheryl Argyle, retired Jordan Valley nurse, said that years ago she helped to create an emergency plan for Jordan Valley School, which included medications for students. She said the District representatives recently emptied nursing supplies from the Jordan Valley School cabinets used for emergencies, which she said blocks emergency preparedness. She said things need to change at Jordan Valley, and want assurance children’s needs are being addressed.

Ron Faeber Jordan Valley parent, said there are serious issues at Jordan Valley School and believes daughter’s safety may be at risk. He said he and other parents are trying to create a PTA at the school, and is receiving assistance from District and State PTA. Asked Board to look into complaints at Jordan Valley to improve public trust.

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

Interim Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Ginger Rhode said the District is in the process of identifying parent groups and booster clubs and will seek input from them in regards to the proposed fundraising policy. She said she would provide Board members with information regarding issues raised in public comment time. She noted Canyons is sponsoring its first TEDx event Nov. 8 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Butler Middle. TED Talks are short talks that include “ideas worth sharing.” She urged the Board to view TED Talks on YouTube and attend the event. She praised the academic achievement report.

Interim CFO’s Report

Leon Wilcox said the parking lot at Butler Middle School will be completed Nov. 27 and alleviate traffic issues there. He said Canyons this year enrolls 33,677 students, according to the Oct. 1 enrollment counts. Enrollments are up 149 students from last year, many due to in-migration and transfers from charter and private schools. Hillcrest is the largest high school with 2,291 students; Draper Park is the largest middle school with 1,430 students, and Willow Springs is the largest elementary with 779 students. Wilcox also reported that he attended a Canyons Education Foundation meeting last week.

Board Reports

Green reported visiting Midvale Elementary with Tingey. He said he loves the school and he hopes to invite some legislators to visit the school and see the good things going on there.

Horiuchi attended Hillcrest High’s performing arts showcase, with performances by band, choir, orchestra, and the theater team that won the Shakespeare Festival. She attended Region 3 UHSAA meeting and left impressed by principals’ knowledge of issues and expressed appreciation for their work. She said she is pleased the Board approved the architects to begin campus improvements at Alta and Ridgecrest, and requested the Board begin site planning on the Brighton High property because parents want to explore the possibility of a soccer field there. She updated the Board on the Superintendent Search, and said half of the School Community Councils (SCCs) had scheduled input meetings with the consultants.

Tingey enjoyed visiting Midvale with Green and was energized by the good things happening there. She met with the Cottonwood Heights City Council and said she appreciates the city’s support of the district and cooperation with local schools. She said she hoped the new parking lot would alleviate traffic at Butler Middle. She attended the Utah School Boards Association’s Board of Directors meeting, and served on a USBA committee to update its bylaws, which are available for feedback on the USBA Web site. She noted the USBA annual conference is Jan. 9-11, 2014. She also enjoyed attending the fifth annual Canyons Middle School Cross Country Meet at Eastmont Middle School. She noted the District is host to a statewide SCC enhancement conference Nov. 7 at Corner Canyon High School, and encouraged SCC members to attend.

Wrigley said Tingey, Wilcox and he attended a recent USBA dinner, in which USBA leaders communicated legislative priorities including funding enrollment growth and retirement, and increasing the weighted pupil unit (WPU), the state’s basic per-student funding formula.

Cowdell praised the work of the Interim Superintendent and Interim CFO. He said he has received many kind messages and phone calls from employees regarding the bonus, and said he wishes the bonus could have been 10 times bigger to express the Board’s appreciation. He said it was nice to receive the pat on the back from employees. He attended a meeting with Sandy City leadership and talked about the direction of the District and superintendent search. He said Sandy City expressed appreciation for the District and its ongoing relationship with Sandy City. He said he also met with Midvale City Administrator Kane Loader, and wants to meet again with him and Green. Next week, Green and he are meeting with a committee about the Mount Jordan rebuild. He praised the Board for hard work and strong relationships built.

Iverson said he had a constituent meeting this month with Taylor, and that it was good to chat with constituents again. He also attended the Middle School Intramural Cross Country Race, which he said was near and dear to him. He said he likes the Board’s directions and recent interactions.

Taylor said he also appreciated the kindness received from employees regarding the bonus, and said he wishes the Board could do a lot more for them to express appreciation for their hard work. He thanked the administration for its hard work, and their swift attention and response to issues of concern. He also thanked the Board for its hard work, and the work it does to represent constituents — a big job, but a rewarding job. Thanked the search consultants for their work as well.

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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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