Wednesday, May 28, 2014

School Board Planning Meeting

I attended part of the School Board Planning Meeting yesterday.  Because it started at 2:00, I missed discussion on the budget and the proposed South Jordan City district split.  I arrived shortly after the board started talking about the recommendations from the Building Utilization Committee.  My notes are below.


Discussing building utilization committee recommendations (missed the first 10)
  • air conditioning in buildings that don't have it with proceeds from future bond - board would like to do that before another bond - it is too late for a bond for 2014
  • STEM or IB magnet program at WJHS - suggestion for STEAM - academies are less expensive than a full on magnet program
  • HS boundary change with feeder system alignment - some conflicting recommendations about alignment - overall message of utilizing schools well
  • consider carefully before moving support classes
  • consider school closures - board needs to decide - would like to try building up the school population first - programs to give parents options - possibly use dual immersion to fill school, not giving preference to students in boundary - possibly use a lottery, like charters, to decide who gets into the program - would need to plan and budget for a program, so this would not be until fall 2015 at earliest - need to notify parents through PTA and SCC - board needs to commit funds, and this is less expensive than building a new school
  • shift boundaries between Falcon Ridge and Mountain Shadows - not necessary at this point --boundary changes prior to another bond
  • move area of West Hills boundary near Airport 2 to Joel P Jensen - not necessary to this time
  • do growth projections by area instead of relying on the 0.8 number from consulting firm CBRE for whole district - may not apply in various areas, some areas may be more than that while other areas may be less - 0.8 includes all residential units - criteria should be more focused
  • STEM in all levels in WJ feeder system
  • adjust all middle school boundaries - as needed
  • keep all walking students at West Hills - doesn't make sense to bus if they can walk
  • suspend feeder system alignment until all other changes have been made
  • use funds from sale of any property in WJ feeder system for upgrades to WJ schools - not considering sale of schools at this time
  • funds from bond for hard walls in WJHS, OHMS, and JPJMS - still have to meet fire code and ADA - could this be pay as you go - look at structure - possible major renovations would be better for a bond
  • buy land for future buildings in SJ - this was done last month
  • move North Shore students to ERMS - done as needed
  • sell WJ elementary - will do other programs to try to fill the seats
  • use bond to rebuild WJMS and add STEM program -
  • take advantage of SJ (Daybreak) RDA to use money as generated to build an elementary school - reserves builds a little bit every year - lose land when take the money - land would need to be used for administration building, because not large enough for a school - take out debt to build school then use the money from this RDA to make payments on the loan - this could impact a bond - can build using municipal building act, but the interest rate is about double that of a bond - use resources first before asking for a bond
  • sell property across from Sunset Ridge to benefit district - there is 50 acres purchased over 40 years ago - looking to trade property elsewhere in WJ - piece in Bluffdale is for sale
  • move Oakcrest to YR - parents are expecting this sooner rather than later - as needed
  • hire certified professional trained in forecasting - have someone trained to so this job rather than an educator-administrator - planning and projection is only part of what this position entails - also does education law working with the attorney - works with foreign exchange students - communicates with charters to know what students will be where for the benefit of students - credibility comes with certain types of licensure
  • hire certified construction manager to oversee buildings - same idea as one before  - would still have a learning curve on the education side of things - merged departments at the time of the split when the previous construction director retired - the construction department people have these types of certifications
  • use Mtn. View Corridor as boundary between Sunset Ridge and West Hills
  • use WJ city line as boundary for ERMS - no - board does not want this
  • implement ROTC at all high schools - have tried to implement in the past - there are scholarship opportunities - Must dedicate a classroom and ones faculty member - this could be a magnet program - charter board has approved a military academy within JSD to open in 2015
  • use bond for a new middle school in west WJ
  • renovate and add classrooms to existing buildings - semi permanent rather than portables - would they need to add restrooms and drinking fountains - relocatable with 3-4 classrooms in it connected to the building with a hallway
  • if close WJ elementary, allow students to chose which school they go to for one year, but after that, go to boundary school - moot point
  • maintain all current buildings
  • exhaust all resources before another bond - it takes a long time to build trust, which needs to be done before another bond
  • sell property to renovate other buildings - two properties in Bluffdale now - have 60 acres in Herriman that developers often call about - hang on to property for trade later
  • use mobile technology and computer labs to increase building capacity - until all schools are one-to-one devices we can't lose the computer labs in schools
  • all WJ elementary students to same school if it is closed - moot point
  • utilize pocket busing instead of portables - let developers of new areas know that all students in new neighborhood would be bused to a school farther away - when the school is good, patrons are better with it - possible future need
  • sell ASB and move shops to high schools and put auxiliary personnel in portables - there is discussion of selling ASB - not in favor of putting shops in high schools or other personnel in portables
  • consider school closures only when funds are available to build future schools - use seats have

 Plans for future growth

  • reviewing these options helped to focus plans for future growth
  • fill current seats with special programs
  • reallocate assets
  • build trust through those actions
  • go for bond at later time after all the previous have been met
  • put together a paper that states the steps the board will take for planning for growth
  • looking at maps and data of approved developments
  • charter school information - expect 2-4 new built every year - existing charters approved to increase their enrollment - not required to evaluate teachers or provide transportation but still have to do SAGE - not subject to federal oversight for school improvement - what do parents consider when choosing a school - meeting child's needs, customer service, teacher - schools have a feeling, which is caused by the people who work there
  • community involvement - paper newsletter sent out maybe quarterly - more k-12 online course available
  • put out 10 items the district is going to work on - don't put dates, just priorities that are reasonable and manageable
  • trust is an outcome of doing a good job - build community involvement
  • disseminate information about finances in different ways

Friday, May 16, 2014

Administrative Assignments

This list was approved at the Study Session on Tuesday, so principals have been telling their faculties.  These assignments will be formally announced at the School Board Meeting on Tuesday.

Lisa Robinson, Director of Special Education
Nancy Ward, Coordinator of Educational Support Services
Mandy Thurman, Principal at Oquirrh Elementary
Becky Gerber, Consultant of Language Arts
Kim Gibson, Principal at Herriman Elementary
Kyle Hansen, Principal at Eastlake Elementary
Travis Hamblin, Human Resources Staff Specialist
Larry Urry, Principal at Sunset Ridge Middle
Wyatt Bentley, Principal at Elk Ridge Middle
Howard Griffith, Principal at Foothills Elementary
David Vicchrilli, Principal at Jordan Hills Elementary
Barb Yost, Principal at Westland Elementary
Patty Bowen, Assistant Principal at West Hills Middle
Tyler Jones, Assistant Principal at South Hills Middle
Tiffany Cooke, Assistant Principal at Jordan Ridge and Southland Elementary Schools
Jerri Mausbach, Assistant Principal at Midas Creek and Silver Crest Elementary Schools
Ronna Hoffman, Assistant Principal at Riverside and Oakcrest Elementary Schools
Cyndy Tingey, Assistant Principal at Daybreak and Eastlake Elementary Schools
Rebecca Lee, Assistant Principal at Blackridge and Foothills Elementary Schools
Mike Christensen, Assistant Principal at Bingham High
Richard Price, Assistant Principal at Herriman High
Gail Ritz, Assistant Principal at Copper Hills High
Arthur Erickson, Assistant Principal at Riverton High

Friday, May 9, 2014

Jordan Education Foundation Awards Recognition Banquet

Another great Awards Banquet from the Jordan Education Foundation!   

Jim Thompson, Bingham, led the strings group for outstanding background music!

Evelyn Marse, Riverton High, Outstanding Special Educator!

Kauri Sue Hamilton School principal Rita Boullion almost always has a winner!

Natalie Walker, West Jordan Elementary, Outstanding Educator!

Bingham principal Christen Richards-Kong with Becky Wells, Outstanding Educator!

Margaret VanNess, Eastlake, Outstanding Educator!

Sonja Ferrufino, Riverton High, Outstanding Educator!

Valley principal Sharon Jensen with her student scholarship recipient!

Bingham student Shantel Harding, my former student, received a scholarship!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

South Jordan City District Split Talks

As you have seen in the news, South Jordan City has decided to move forward with a feasibility study about splitting from Jordan District.  A flyer with inaccurate information was distributed over the weekend.  We need to be educators of the public about the harm that will come to students should another split occur! 

As JEA President, I have attended nearly every open study session and school board meeting over the last four years.  Based on my experience, I can also speak to some of the misinformation in the flyer.

"Jordan School District kept important information from voters during last year's bond election debate!"  I was involved with the bond campaign from the beginning.  The Jordan District and Friends of Jordan School District were very open and trying to get the information out using websites, social media, and open houses.

"Now that they are planning on it (bond election) again, but here's what they didn't want you to know last time --"  First, this is not a grammatically correct sentence.  That teacher bit aside, I have heard very little discussion on a future bond.  Occasionally, a board member will say that they want to run a bond again in November.  Others will then say the district needs to wait 2-3 years.  The decision to try for a bond again has not been made.

"On their website, they pointed to South Jordan's growth as a reason to build new schools, but in the first bond they planned for schools in Riverton, Herriman, West Jordan and Bluffdale, but not in South Jordan."  The Bingham feeder system is most of South Jordan.  A new elementary school was to be built in South Jordan from the bond funds.

"The State Legislature is giving South Jordan one chance, this year, to decide if they want to split off."  A law was passed that stated if a district were to split that the property tax revenue to one district cannot be more than 5% higher than the property tax revenue for the other district.  This was a major problem in the Jordan/Canyons split.  Jordan had 60% of the students and 40% of the tax base, while Canyons had 40% of the students and 60% of the tax base.  If South Jordan doesn't decide to vote on a split this year, they still could in the future, there would just be more restrictions.

Back in February, the South Jordan Journal ran an article about a possible South Jordan split from Jordan District.  I wrote a letter to the editor that was published in March.

Dear Editor and South Jordan residents,

I am concerned with the South Jordan City Council looking to form its own school district. I am against this for many reasons including costs, quality of education, and employee morale.
There are students living in South Jordan City boundaries who attend Herriman or Copper Hills High, Copper Mountain Middle, Midas Creek Elementary and other schools on permit. Current schools in South Jordan city boundaries are not large enough to hold all the students living in South Jordan City. This means new schools would need to be built necessitating a bond.

The Jordan/Canyons split in 2009 cost $33 million through months of negotiations and mediation with transition teams from both sides. In addition, Jordan District had to cut $17 million in the 2010-2011 budget year. These cuts hurt students. One example is the money for aides in Special Education classes being reduced leaving those students who are the most needy without the support to help them be successful. Canyons District promised no tax increases, but within two years, property taxes had increased and a bond was passed to build a new high school and rebuild several other schools.

The quality of education students receive will suffer. Jordan District has an excellent curriculum department that provides many resources for teachers at all levels. The new district would likely be unable to hire those types of specialists, leaving teachers on their own to create curriculum. As an elementary teacher, I appreciate having those specialists who can align curriculum to the Utah Core, provide quality assessments, and give curriculum maps for pacing subjects taught throughout the year. If my time had to be spent doing those types of activities for all the subjects I’m required to teach, there would be less time for me to work with students and provide them with the feedback they need to improve.

Many employees on both sides of the Jordan/Canyons split felt like they were just assets assigned to a building. The morale is just now, five years later, beginning to improve. Employees have not received their step increases three of the last five years. While this is a different pay system than in other industries, when teachers are hired, the District explains the pay system, so there is an expectation that has not been met. If South Jordan were to break off to form their own school district, employee salary increases in both districts would likely be nonexistent. At the time of the Jordan/Canyons split, I felt discouraged and frustrated with my career. I have become more optimistic as I have utilized the tools provided by Jordan District. I am proud to have been teaching in Jordan District for 22 years.

Please stop the discussion on breaking away from Jordan District now!

Jennifer Boehme
South Jordan resident and Elk Meadows teacher