Farewell, Dr. Rhode

The Board of Education honored Interim Superintendent Dr. Ginger Rhode, who is retiring June 30, as part of her final meeting with the Board. The Board gave Dr. Rhode a bouquet of flowers, and thanked her for her service.

"Dr. Rhode, thank you for bringing your wealth of experience, your depth of knowledge, and your expansive compassion to a community that desired more from its public school system. The practices that have been implemented under your leadership are poised to bring even more increases in student achievement," President Sherril Taylor said. "Your dedication to Canyons District was even more evident when without hesitation you accepted the responsibility of serving as the Interim Superintendent. Your work in this capacity has been exemplary. While you will be missed, your presence will be with us as the people and programs you have influenced carry forward the mission of Canyons District."

Taylor said Dr. Rhode's has touched countless lives in her 35 years in education. His words were met with a standing ovation by the audience.

Dr. Rhode thanked the Canyons community for the opportunity to serve as Interim Superintendent. "I would like to thank this Board of Education for putting their trust in me," she said. "I would like to give a huge thank you to our District Office staff, our school administrators, teachers and school staff, and all of our department staffs ... and say what a true privilege it's been to work with all of you."

Dr. Jim Briscoe, who is finishing his work as superintendent of DeKalb Community Unit School District No. 428, located about 50 miles west of Chicago, will become the new Canyons Superintendent on July 1.

Board Approves $358 Million FY15 Budget

The Board unanimously approved the $358 million 2014-2015 Budget, which includes a $6.5 million employee compensation package and small capital projects including remodels to Alta High and Jordan Valley School.

The Budget, presented by Interim CFO Leon Wilcox and approved following a public hearing as required by law, includes step and lane salary increases for employees, plus a cost of living adjustment and two additional paid days for educators. Of the $6.5 million in additional employee compensation, two-thirds, or $4.25 million, funds teacher compensation. The tentative budget also includes two elementary arts specialists; two FTE to expand preschool and kindergarten at Midvalley Elementary; increased staff supports for middle schools enrolling more than 1,400 students; three secondary achievement coaches; ninth-grade athletics; and increases in state retirement contributions.

The budget sets aside about $7.5 million for Small Capital Projects, including the Alta High remodeling project, which includes converting a shop area and tennis courts improvements; a Jordan Valley School upgrade; the Brighton High Soccer Field; Ridgecrest Elementary parking lot improvements; Peruvian Park Elementary site and fire system upgrades; Sprucewood Elementary kitchen remodeling; Midvalley Elementary playground upgrade; and about $11.5 million for other capital expenditures including building repairs and site work; information technology and computer labs; buses and other school equipment.

The budget does not call for an increase in taxes for the fifth year in a row. CSD's assessed valuation is expected to increase by 5.35 percent, an increase the budget anticipates will be offset by a drop in the certified tax rate set by the Utah State Tax Commission.
Bond Projects for the coming year include finishing Mount Jordan Middle School in August 2015 and beginning architect work and planning for Midvale Middle School so construction can begin in June 2015.

In the public hearing, patron Steve Van Maren asked why the copy machines are an ongoing expense. Wilcox noted schools receive copy machines on a 4-5 year rotating schedule due to extensive use. Van Maren suggested the Board increase the capital levy to provide additional ongoing revenue and stave off the need for a bond in the near future.
Board Members thanked Van Maren for his engagement and Wilcox for his attention to the budget and bond project needs, which they said would not come to fruition had Canyons not been created by the people in 2007, and noted Canyons puts more of its money into instruction than neighboring school districts.

The Board adopted the 2013-2014 final budget and the 2014-2015 budget as presented. The FY 2015 Budget is about $9 million less than the current year's budget of $367 million. The budgetary difference is due to lower spending on capital projects and debt service savings expected in the coming year.

For details on the budget or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs  and click Agenda Items 8A-C.

Interlocal Agreement Opens Tennis Courts to Public

The Board approved an interlocal agreement with Cottonwood Heights City and the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center to ensure community access to Brighton tennis courts when they are not in use by the school. Board Member Kim Horiuchi, who spearheaded the interlocal agreement effort, noted the agreement formalizes and demonstrates the Board's continued desire to work with community partners for the benefit of the public.

To view the agreements, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 9A. 

Draper Police Chief Presents 'Communities that Care'

Draper Police Chief Bryan Roberts invited the Board to become a "key leader" in the Communities that Care program, a police department-led prevention and intervention model used in Draper City. The research-based intervention model includes community collaboration; is funded by state, county and city resources; and includes partnership with Corner Canyon High School.

Cowdell thanked Chief Roberts for the information and said the Board's conversation on the matter is likely to continue.

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

Educator Evaluation System Update

Dr. Hollie Pettersson and Amber Roderick-Landward, directors of CSD Evidence-Based Learning, updated the Board on upcoming field testing of the new teacher evaluation tool. The new evaluation process includes three components for evaluation, including evidence of professional performance for high quality instruction and leadership; student growth and learning information; and stakeholder input. Dr. Pettersson discussed the ways the new process addresses each of the components.

The evaluation tool, required by state law, will replace the JPAS in the 2016-2017 school year. It is aimed at providing educators with feedback that will help them grow as professionals, objectively measure what is happening in the classroom, focus on growth and progress, and meet standards and requirements set by law. The tool is being developed by the CSD Joint Educator Evaluation Committee, a 12-member group of parents and educators. JEEC meetings and summaries are posted on the District Web site.

Dr. Rhode said teachers to date have provided positive feedback about the tool, in contrast to initial trepidation when the process started last year. Educator orientations are scheduled in late July and August; notifications will be sent in the coming weeks.

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

Elementary Report Card Update

The standards-based I-CANyons elementary report card is being adjusted to improve its usability as a communication tool for parents and teachers. The Elementary Report Card Committee, which consists of 15 teachers (including six recently-added members to increase feedback), has reviewed feedback received from parent focus groups, teacher surveys, and additional input submitted to the Evidence-Based Learning Department and used the input to improve the report card. The most significant changes come in progress reports. A three-point scale is being developed to show student progress toward mastery of the content throughout the school year. The adjusted report card is expected to be in place for the coming school year.

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

Board Recognizes Student, Employee Achievements

The Board recognized the following students and employees for their achievements:
  • Alicia Yost, Eastmont Middle, Outstanding 7th Grade Science Teacher, Utah Science Teachers Association
  • Lacee LePrey, Canyons Youth in Custody Counselor, Southern Utah University Hall of Fame
  • Christian Babinski, Jordan, 5A Wrestling Coach of the Year
  • Ariana Williams, Hillcrest, 5A State Hurdles Champion
  • Austin Kafentzis, Jordan, 5A State Javelin Champion
  • Academic All-State Honors:
    • Boys Tennis: Jason Day, David Sagae and Jason Wright, Hillcrest
    • Boys Soccer: Adam King and Eric Todd, Hillcrest
    • Baseball: Logan Reese, Hillcrest
    • Track and Field: Reilly Caten, Brighton; Tavia Dutson and Paul Geilman, Alta
  • Hillcrest High School 10th and 11th grade Mathematics Teams, Winners of the 5A State Mathematics Championship
  • Draper Park Middle School students Lauren Williams, Preston Woodward, Jason Casey, Brooke Meyers, Luke Hayes, and teacher Rick Bowman, Utah Water Conservancy Contest winners, essay and video divisions
  • Peruvian Park third-graders Ray Powers, Abigail Slama-Catron, Marianne Liu, and Eli Kaplan, Creative Pursuits Bowl Champions

Patron Comments

Draper Park Middle School patron Scott Askew said he was speaking on behalf of Draper Park special needs students. He said he wants an independent investigation to improve accountability and transparency on the way the District handled the investigation of a bus driver now charged with felony child sex abuse. He said he wanted the board to restore public trust and remember it serves constituents. He expressed irritation that the District didn't inform parents of the allegations against the driver. He asked the Board to require aides on all special needs bus routes.

Cowdell thanked Askew for reminding the Board of its responsibilities, and said he appreciated his concerns. He said that just because it isn't obvious to the public doesn't mean things aren't happening. He said the Board is doing all that it can do within the perimeters of the law amid a police investigation. He reaffirmed the Board's commitment to ensuring student safety on buses and campuses, and issued an invitation to Askew to talk with him or District administrators about his concerns individually.

In responding to an audience member advising the board to vote now to put aides on all special education buses, Taylor said that the Board will seriously consider the input.
Patron Brian Melcor asked that the District revise its signs prohibiting guns on school property to comply with state law on firearms.

Kyle Waters, a candidate for House District 51, thanked the Board for its work on behalf of students and the sacrifices it makes to serve the public. He said he wanted to introduce himself to the Board and invited the Board to contact him if they have questions. He said if elected, he wants to secure more education funding and get out of the Board's way.

Jen Jacobs, Vice President of the Canyons Education Association, thanked Dr. Rhode for her leadership and service. She thanked the Board for the opportunity to enter contract negotiations this year, and the collegial relationship created with Board Members.

Patron Candace Gonzales, whose son attends the Willow Springs Special Education Preschool, provided the Board with a letter from the Epilepsy Association of Utah, which is calling for an independent investigation and urging the district to uphold federal law and ensure students have aides if their Individual Education Plans require aides. She said the founder of Utah Kids, a group of families with special needs children, also is calling for an independent investigation, regular monitoring of bus camera footage, and aides on buses. She is a social worker, and gives Canyons a gold star as a school district, and hoped the issues could be resolved to the satisfaction of the community.

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

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the May 6, 2014 Minutes; Purchasing Bids; April and May Financial Reports; May Hire and Termination Reports; Draper SRO Agreement; Negotiated Agreement with Administrators; Supplemental High School Curriculum Adoption; and the 2014-2015 Meeting Schedule. The Board also approved Student Overnight Travel for the Alta Boys Basketball and Volleyball; Brighton Girls Soccer; Corner Canyon Drama Club Officers, Theatre Department, Girls Volleyball and Yearbook staff; Hillcrest Dance Company, Performing Arts, and Shakespeare Team; and Jordan Drill Team and Dance Company.

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

The Board approved the new fee schedule, which includes some increases to keep up with costs of music and equipment repair and replacement. The Board approved the changes in k-12 Administrative Salary Schedule to keep up with administrative compensation of neighboring school districts.

For details, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Items 9B and 9C.

Interim Superintendent Report

Dr. Rhode enjoyed end-of-year activities in schools, including five commencement ceremonies. She noted this is her last Board meeting prior to retirement, and thanked the Board and staff for the opportunity to serve and the friendships she's been able to form. She also thanked the Board for its thoughtful and gracious recognitions and for last week's retirement party.

Interim CFO Report

Wilcox thanked Dr. Rhode for her service, calling her a "phenomenal boss, and an even better friend." He said he hopes to provide the Board with a lease proposal for the old Valley High the first week of August.

Board Reports

Robert Green thanked Dr. Rhode for leading the District through grade reconfiguration and laying the District's foundation. He said she touches people's lives, which is her silent gift to many, and that it's been a blessing to know and work with her. He questions from teachers about school supplies and questions about insurance and other matters. He said he enjoyed the Hillcrest commencement and Dr. Rhode's humorous speech, and apologized for being unable to attend Brighton's commencement ceremony. He noted he is graduating with a master's degree next week.

Horiuchi congratulated Green. She thanked Cowdell for his comments regarding the bus driver issue and for reemphasizing that the Board cares deeply about students, which is why the Board serves in this capacity. She said she enjoyed the Brighton graduation, and said student celebrations are the best part of Board service. She noted Brighton seniors earned $5.8 million in scholarships, that 69 percent earned a CSD college- and career-ready diploma; and that they helped raise 20,000 for the Tyler Robinson foundation, a non-profit named for a late student who succumbed to cancer that provides assistance to families of children with cancer. She praised CSD high schools for earning school sportsmanship awards and gold stars from the Utah High School Activities Association, and said they are among 107 schools that have completed the award criteria. She attended retirement open houses for Ridgecrest Teacher Pam Bunderson and Dr. Rhode. She said she enjoyed seeing Dr. Rhode take a spin on a scooter from the District's first days at her retirement party, and praised her for managing CSD's daily operations, overseeing implementation of grade reconfiguration and districtwide boundary changes to help prepare students for college and careers. She said the UHSAA Executive Committee is meeting Thursday about football classification determination by factors other than enrollment. She noted plans for Mount Jordan are proceeding well and soon will come before the Board. She said she is looking forward to introducing the new superintendent to constituents in a town meeting on June 18 at 7 p.m. at the Butler Middle School Media Center.

Second Vice President Nancy Tingey congratulated Green on his upcoming completion of a master's degree. She thanked Wilcox for his work on the budget, and Dr. Rhode for her work in public education, adding she has her deepest respect and highest regard. She enjoyed school year-end activities and attended three commencement ceremonies this year: Alta, where Taylor gave a wonderful speech; Brighton, where Horiuchi spoke at a delightful event, and Hillcrest, where Robert did a great job with his speech. She said she enjoyed shaking the hands of some 1,500 graduates, and enjoyed seeing their joy and sense of accomplishment. She thanked all who contributed to that moment for the students.

Vice President Steve Wrigley thanked Board Members for their work behind the scenes on the superintendent search, and noted nine town hall meetings have been set for constituents to meet the Superintendent this summer. He said he enjoyed the Jordan Valley School graduation exercise, as well as the Corner Canyon and Jordan High commencement ceremonies. He noted he and Tingey are headed to the South Park Academy commencement Wednesday morning at the Utah State Prison. He thanked Dr. Rhode for her service, wished her the best in retirement, and said the District has accomplished a great deal.

Cowdell attended commencement at Jordan High, the alma mater of himself, his wife and generations of his family. He said seeing graduates with their whole lives ahead of them is a good reminder of the importance of the Board's work. He thanked Dr. Rhode for her service, and said it has been wonderful to confront challenges with her as part of the team. He offered Dr. Rhode retirement advice, noting the best work of one of history's most prominent couples – Abraham and Sarah – came post-retirement, and on a personal note, advised her to encourage her husband to keep riding motorcycles.

Taylor attended the Alta commencement, and praised Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie for her excellent speech. He said the commencement reminded him why he became an educator in the beginning, seeing students happy to face the future. He again praised Dr. Rhode, and said he hopes to see her in the neighborhood.

Closed Session

The Board met in Closed Session for the purpose of discussing pending or reasonably imminent litigation, and the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual.
Page 1 of 22