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Social Security Vote Results

Canyons District Employees Approve Social Security Participation

SANDY — Employees in Utah’s first new school district created in 100 years have voted to participate in Social Security, Canyons School District announced Monday.

As of Monday afternoon, 2,397 ballots had been counted by the Utah Division of Finance. Of the ballots counted, 1,537, or 64.1 percent, voted to participate in Social Security, according to preliminary results. Some 860 employees, or 35.9 percent, voted not to participate in Social Security. Voter turnout was 92.8 percent of 2,583 eligible voters. Numbers may change slightly before the election is certified, as the Division of Finance still is counting absentee ballots. However, given the relatively small number of absentee ballots mailed, the District does not anticipate that the outcome will change.

“We are most pleased with the high voter turnout shown by employees — key to ensuring a valid election,” said Tracy Scott Cowdell, President of the Canyons Board of Education. “We are happy to have this important issue resolved, and look forward to implementing the will of our employees.”

The vote, held Wednesday, Dec. 9, was required by federal law. All new governmental agencies participating in a state retirement system must opt in to their state’s “Section 218 Agreement” in order to pay into Social Security. Canyons School District, created in 2007 by a vote of the people in Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale and Sandy and which started offering services July 1, 2009, had not yet done so.

The Canyons Board of Education last summer voted to allow employees to determine whether to participate in Social Security. The Board also voted to create a plan for employees in the event they voted not to participate in Social Security: Place the District’s 6.2 percent contribution to Social Security into each employees’ 401(k) with the Utah Retirement Systems, and put the employees’ 6.2 percent withheld for Social Security back into their monthly paychecks.

The decision to participate in Social Security is based on the majority of eligible voters — not the majority of voters casting ballots. In all, 2,583 employees were eligible to vote; a valid election required a majority of that number — 1,292 — to vote on either side of the issue, according to Social Security Administration guidelines.

Polling places were set up in every school, the Canyons Administration Building, the Canyons Support Services Center, and the District’s transportation depot. Voting employees were required to show identification. Ballots were delivered directly to the Division of Finance for official counting. Ballots were counted twice to ensure accuracy.

Canyons School District set out to ensure every employee could make an informed decision about Social Security participation. The District provided employees with an array of information on its Web site, Social Security Vote Information . District officials also hosted three employee information meetings with the Utah Social Security Administration, Utah Retirement Systems and the Utah Division of Finance, and provided reminders and additional information through a variety of social, print and electronic media.

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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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