"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jan. 25, 2011 Work Session and Board Meeting

Work Session: Bond Survey

The district is going to survey about 600 residents on the bond.  Some of the questions are to inform the residents and some are to inform the district.  The survey will:

  1. Test the pulse of the district
  2. Be a report card for the district
  3. Test the dollar amount for the bond
  4. Test the reasons for and against the bond
Included in the survey are options to deal with the growth (about 12,000 more students) if we do not bond. Two of those present had been involved in double-sessions at a Junior High in 1962 in the district and found it a less than pleasant experience.  Some board members were concerned that double-sessions would lead to kids going to school in the dark and others coming home in the dark.  There are also concerns about with so many kids in limited spaces, there will be a reduction in what programs each student may be able to take.

I asked about building smaller facilities.  The concern is schools are required, by law, to be community centers.  So, there are equity issues involved in building less in one area of the district than in other areas of the district.  When Lehi JH was planned, it came without an auditorium.  Evidently, there were complaints, and the auditorium was added.

The survey company has counseled us to do property owners, not just registered voters.  The board can decide to do whatever it likes.  The cost is roughly $8K.

The current bond numbers are a total of $210M to build 4 elementary schools, and 1 junior high.  It will also allow for major improvements/renovations in some older schools (e.g. AF, PG, etc.), and additional work on seismic and other maintenance issues on other schools in the district.  It is assumed the property taxes on the average home (230K) will increase $12-$15/year.

A seismic survey was professionally done a few years back.  There is a list of specific schools and specific improvements that need to be done.  We can do it all, but not as fast as we would like.  The bond should assist with completing this work faster.

The state used to provide about $8M/year in capital funds.  Four years ago, ASD received $16M in capital funds.  Last year, it was less than $1M.  We do not budget any state monies for capital improvements anymore.

We could use existing capital reserves to build the junior high, but there would be no money left in the reserve account for any of the other schools to have capital expenditures (e.g. buses, computers)

The average costs to build are as follows.

  1. Elementary: $10M
  2. Junior High: $30M (180K sq ft)
  3. High School: $55M (349K sq ft)

The Board will have Board Training on Monday, Jan. 31.  We will review the Code of Conduct.  This is our opportunity to determine how board members will do business with each other.  We will also establish goals and a direction, both by reviewing previous goals, and then setting our own.

My Take: Bond Survey

I think it is fine to survey people on the bond.  It is preferable to find out now if there's any support for it before time and money are spent on promoting it, if the people are not in favor of it.  I am still on the fence about the bond.  The reduction in capital monies from the state was interesting.  I would appreciate any suggestions and comments on how to accommodate additional students in the next 5 years.  I think any and all ideas should be considered.  

Board Meeting at Oak Canyon JH

Six people were given awards by the Alpine Foundation, and the Student Council and their teacher were recognized as well.

The PTSA has 600 members (parents and students) and have enjoyed many activities including 22 of 31 Reflections entries being selected to go on to higher levels.  They also sponsored Freedom Week to help students appreciate the freedoms they have and the price that was paid to maintain them.  It culminated in a Veteran's Day Assembly with Veteran speakers and a very powerful slide show.

The SCC is responsible for allocating Trust Lands' money to different programs.  They struggle over how to spread the money over the entire school.  They spent money on
1) Read 180 for struggling kids
2) Providing AP Course that go beyond Honors Courses
3) MyAccess program for online writing.  This used to be funded by the district, but is not any longer.

The principal spoke of their theme: Together We Learn for Life.  He is proud to be part of a district with a collaborative process that focuses on student learning.  They went through an accreditation process that was good for finding out where they were strong and where they were weak.  Their mission is to ensure student success through 1) collaboration, 2) data analysis, and 3) collective inquiry.

Community Comments:

One parent spoke about the lack of busing for one development by the new elementary in Saratoga Springs.  Their children will need to cross Redwood Road to get to school.  She appreciates the funding concerns, but wants to make sure the kids are safe.  The superintendent and the 2 assistant superintendents have been discussing this.  They assured her, they are looking at options and will get back to her on the issue.  The legislature reimburses busing costs where communities are 1.5 miles or more away from the school.  Otherwise, the school or district must come up with this cost on their own.

Another parent was concerned with the lack of communication to the parents after the gun incident at Westlake High.  The Superintendent indicated that they did not handle the communication well.  (Everyone agreed that the actual incident was handled superbly.)  As a district, we are revising our procedures to communicate with parents in a more timely fashion on issues such as these.

Action Item:

Boundaries for the two new elementary schools in Saratoga Springs were approved.

Board Committee Reports

Friday, Jan. 28, the board is invited to the USBA (Utah School Boards Association) Day on the Hill at the Capitol Building.  There will be USBA meetings and a chance to meet with the legislators.  I will be going.

A closed session was held to discuss personnel and property issues.


  1. ASD should consider issuing charters to accommodate future growth. This would give the district greater control over where the charters are located, what grade levels the schools include, and cost a lot less money than building more district schools.

  2. I concur with the above comment as you and I have discussed previously

  3. The survey questions should be reviewed by all the Board members to reduce probability that the survey is flawed. I can't believe how often I hear flawed survey questions.
    Oak Canyon School has a progressive agenda/social justice sounding mission statement: To ensure student success through 1) collaboration, 2) data analysis, and 3) collective inquiry.

  4. I will claim my anonymous post (above). I didn't feel like logging in. There is currently a bill in the legislature that would make using charters a tool to handle growth less attractive than I previously thought. It would eliminate the funds the district gets for students in charter schools. I actually approve of the bill even though it would make my suggestion for growth management less realistic.