"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

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mar. 8, 2011 Board Meeting

Work Session

Note: Work Sessions are held at 4pm, prior to each board meeting.  Work Sessions are open to the public.

Bond projects

A draft of the bond projects was discussed.  The 4 proposed elementary schools and 1 junior high will be built using plans of existing schools.  The major proposed renovations are to AF, PG, and Lehi High, as those schools were built in the 50's.  There was a 4-phase plan established prior to the previous bond for each of these (and some other) schools. It is proposed that these schools will have Phase II of that plan implemented under this bond.  Additionally, ASD had an engineering firm perform a seismic study of each of the school several years ago.  The plan is to address those seismic needs for those schools that have the highest priority in these areas.  As always, these things are subject to change, based on feedback from the public and the amount of the bond. 

Board Member Interview Questions

The board reviewed the procedure and four interview questions from the last board appointment.  I had a couple of suggested changes.
1) Have the board candidate define their view of what their role as a board member is prior to describing how their experience would assist them in their role on the board.
2) Discuss the guiding principles they will use in making decisions on the board. 
After some discussion, it was decided that the existing questions would be used for the candidate interviews.  Each candidate will receive the questions and the format, as well as the Board's Code of Conduct (revised 1/31/11) prior to the interview. 

The questions are:
1. What qualities do you possess to be a good board member?  How would these qualities strengthen our board?
2.Can you share a past experience working with a team and building consensus?
3. How will previous leadership experiences help you in your role as a school board member?
4. As Board members, we are advocates for public education, for Alpine School District, and for all children.  How do you see yourself in this role?

The deadline for filing a letter of intent and a resume for the board position is March 18.

Board Meeting


This was board member, Guy Fugal's last board meeting.  There were several presentations for him, and he and his wife (and former principal), Paula, bestowed a scholarship check for $50,000 for Educational Support Service Employees to be able to continue with their personal education.  He also spent his last day serving lunch at a school.  Guy and his wife will be serving an LDS Mission in London.  I wish them all the best!

Claims and Routine Business

I am still struggling with the claims.  I feel in order to approve something, I must have more knowledge of each item, and not just the overall process.  If I just skim the 200 pages of claims, is that sufficient?  What if I only partially understand what was paid for and why?  Utah Code says the Business Administrator must present the claims and budget report to the board monthly.  I am working to get greater clarification.  In the meantime, I will continue to abstain from the approval of the claims.

School Names

Three names for each of the two new elementary schools in Saratoga Springs were proposed.  The top recommendations were Thunder Ridge and Riverview.  The board will vote on the formal names at a subsequent board meeting.

Internet Policy/Fee Schedule

The new procedure is for the board-approved policies to be high-level and general.  The rules, regulations and procedures will contain the specifics.  This allows the administration to modify, as necessary, the nuts and bolts of a procedure without having to go back to the board, as long as it follows the overall policy set forth by the board.  I think this makes sense.  As we get phones, and iPads, and so forth being used at school, it would be good for the schools/district to adjust things slightly to comply with the overall policy of using the internet for education purposes and preventing offensive, criminal, etc content.  Each parent will need to sign an internet policy information sheet, and then, MAY, opt their child in.  The consent form will be valid throughout elementary school, but a new one will be signed for middle/junior high school, and then again in high school.  See the information here.

Also, the maximum amount that schools/classes could charge for fees was presented.  The board will approve this fee schedule in a subsequent board meeting. 

Audit Committee

I attended the audit committee (which meets only twice a year).  We reviewed the audit schedule for the 22 schools (abt. 1/3 of the schools) for this year, and decided we would review the results of the audit in the fall.  We met with our two auditors from Squire.  Squire has a policy to not assign the same auditors to the same institutions year after year, but to rotate, both to give us people with varied experience as well as to maintain a level of objectivity.  The district also went out to bid for an auditor a while back for the same reason (objectivity), and also to verify pricing.  I felt comfortable with the plan and the information presented.  We also discussed new audit standards the board will need to adopt, as required by the State Office of Education.

Other Events

Traverse Mountain SCC

I was honored to attend the Traverse Mountain Elementary School Community Council.  They have a good group who want to be informed.  They are rotating members to attend the board meetings, so they can stay informed.  (They also have members who read this blog.  Thank you for that!)  They will be combining with their PTA's Facebook page and blog.  The school also has a nice and informative website.  I was pleased to see the level of involvement.

CITES Leadership Conference

I will be attending the CITES Leadership Conference March 10 -11 (tomorrow and Friday), sponsored by the BYU-Public School Partnership.  I am interested to see the benefit of the partnership up close and personal.  Also, one of the featured speakers, Linda Darling-Hammond, is involved with SBAC and West Ed, which will be developing the assessments for the Common Core Standards.  

Vineyard URA

A public hearing on the URA will be held on March 23, at 7pm at the Vineyard City Offices.  If you haven't contacted the county commissioners about your position on this URA, I ask you to do so prior to March 23.  I would also recommend that you attend the meeting on the 23rd.  For those of you who need to come up to speed on the URA, click here.  In short, the URA allows a developer to forego paying taxes to ASD, City, County, and Miscellaneous taxing entities for 35 years (estimated amount $300M), and to use that money for the clean-up and development of the former Geneva Steel site.  Alpine School District voted against this proposal, something that I couldn't agree with more. 

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