On March 23, 2011, the Vineyard URA held a public input meeting. Legal Counsel for the Alpine School District read a statement at that meeting. Board members were advised to allow legal counsel to attend and speak on their behalf. I appreciate all of you who attended the hearing, who wrote letters, and shared the information with your friends and neighbors. I will keep you updated as things progress. To read and view the Fox13 report, please go here. This hearing begins the official 30-day window for appeal of the URA, according to the report.
March 22, 2011 Work Session and Board Meeting at Cedar Ridge Elementary School
The board received a list of the suggested projects for the bond. At this time, this list is just a DRAFT. Public and Employee meetings will be held in April and May to receive feedback on the bond, itself, as well as the suggested projects.
One of the concerns has been Lehi High, which is over 50 years old. The board investigated purchasing property near where the high school is currently located, building a brand new high school on the new property and selling the old Lehi High buildings and property. My understanding was this was a preferred option for the City of Lehi. Unfortunately, the current site could not be sold for anywhere near enough to make this plan financially feasible. So, the current plan is to start on Phase II (there is a master plan for all the major construction projects in the district and this plan will be available at the Public bond input meetings) for rebuilding part of Lehi High on its current location. However, this will all depend on the public feedback.
Please attend one of the meetings and help get the word out to those who do not have children in ASD. All of the PTA/SCC meetings and the public input meetings are open to the everyone. The presentation will be the same. You may choose whichever meeting is most convenient for you. For a list of those meetings, please go here.
Capital Budget Meeting
Last week, I attended the Capital (anything with a "useful life" greater than one year) Budget Meeting, which was reviewed during the work session. This is the PROPOSED budget, but hasn't been approved by the board at this time. As I mention the budget in this context, bear in mind this is the proposed budget, but I will omit the modifier 'proposed' for the rest of this discussion.
A few items of interest. First, all of the district's bonds are done over 15-years. It saves much in interest (just like a 15-year home mortgage does). Also, the district staggers its debt so we repay all of a particular group of bonds by the time we start another set of bonding. This way, we keep our debt repayment amount mostly constant, instead of increasing it. We will be paying $33M in principal and $15M in interest this year.
There is a budget for remodeling/upgrading existing facilities. This year it is set for $4M. The physical facilities department has a 10-year plan of items that need to be addressed, including the seismic issues discussed in previous posts. This plan is prioritized, and some of the schools that appear on this list will not be included in the bond projects, as the amounts are either small enough to included here or the need is so great that it must be done right away. There are $3M worth of specific remodel/upgrade (non-bond) projects for this coming fiscal year. In addition, $1M is set aside in various 'emergency' accounts, such as roofing, boiler, etc to accommodate unforeseen expenditures that crop up during the year. An example of this was over Thanksgiving, a fire alarm panel malfunctioned, calling the fire department 6 times in a matter of days. The funds for its replacement were taken from these 'emergency' funds called control accounts. If there is any money left over in these accounts at the end of the fiscal year (and their is usually only some change), it reverts to the general capital fund and must be reallocated by the board the next year. The Capital Fund balance (i.e. left over savings from the previous budget) has no legal limit on it; whereas, the general fund does have a legal limit.
Computer Rotation: The district policy is for teachers to receive new computers every four years. It used to be done every three years, as the computers come with three-year warranties. It has been found to be more economical to go for four years, and allocate some money for repairs that fourth year. Also, as technology changes, this allows us to keep up with technological advancements. So, one-fourth of the teachers get a new computer this year.
There is also an allocation to upgrade networking equipment, and an amount for tech support.
Last year, there were no new buses purchased. This year, the plan is to purchase 2 special ed buses, and 6 regular ed buses. Also, it is recommend that we spend $60,000 to install a new fuel tank at the bus depot. This will save us $.20/gal or about $200,000 this coming year.
Finally, there is a budget item for instruction. This would be for things like classroom furniture. There is a set amount per school, and then so much per student.
This budget will be on the agenda for tentative adoption in April. The board, by law, must approve a budget by June 22 of each year. However, if we adopt the capital budget in April, the district will be able to order supplies and get construction contracts right away. This way, these projects will be ready to begin as soon as school lets out for the summer.
Rob Smith and JoDee Sundberg were instrumental in giving information to our legislators on how HB2 (the main appropriations bill) would impact schools, in general, and our district in particular. There were quite a few good things that occurred because of this, and for that, we are appreciative. One thing that may have some unintended consequences is that students that are enrolled in ASD and MATC (Mountainland Applied Technology Center) will now only generate funding for EITHER ASD or MATC, not both. Until now, the schools in the district have tried to consolidate class offerings with MATC, so there is not duplication of resources. If the schools are to lose money by sending their students off to MATC, there is incentive to duplicate those classes at the high schools.
The State Office of Education will be putting together a booklet of all the new education legislation and list what the State Office will need to do to accommodate the legislation and what the local districts will be required to do as well. One of the issues is if a teacher has a child at a school in the district, that teacher is not allowed to serve on his/her child's school's SCC as a parent. The teacher may still serve at their school of employment as a teacher rep on the SCC.
Cedar Ridge Recognitions and Reports
Cedar Ridge Elementary recognized 8 students. The Alpine Foundation also recognized 2 teachers, 2 support personnel, and 2 volunteers. We heard reports from the SCC, PTA, and Principal Bruner. The principal was going to be spending the next day on the roof of the school, as the prize for additional math practice. Good thing the weather was nice (as opposed to the rain/snow we are having as I type this).
New School Names
The two new schools in Saratoga Springs, along with the Special Ed school attached to the South School were named. The North School is Riverview Elementary School. The South School is Thunder Ridge Elementary School. The Special Ed School is Horizon School.
Elementary Schools Report
The four district administrators, supervising the elementary schools, provided a report to the board of the 50+ elementary schools in the district, along with basic information, the Math and Language Arts CRT scores, and the UPASS scores.
The Curriculum Committee discussed Common Core, ASD's online school for home schoolers, and the preschool program.
Four board members attended the Leadership Conference, sponsored by BYU's CITES department. A keynote speaker at the conference said, "We need to teach learners how to learn." Also, the technology presentations were very good. I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on the role of parents in their children's education. I will have a more in-depth blog post on this conference in a few days.
Open Board Member Position
There are FOURTEEN candidates for the open board position. We will be interviewing all of them on Tuesday, March 29 from 1pm - ????. This meeting is open to the public. Each candidate will have 15 minutes: an opening statement, 2 questions, and a closing statement. The two questions will be the same for each candidate. The board spent some time discussing those questions and how best to determine who should have the position. One of the main concerns is that, despite differences, the board members are able to discuss and maintain a level of trust among each other. I brought up the idea that we need to keep in mind that we are trying to find someone to represent the voters of the PG/Lindon area, not just someone we can get along with. It's important to keep that in mind.
The two questions are:
1. We have read through the information you have submitted highlighting your experiences and qualities. How would you use these to contribute to and strengthen our Board?
2. As Board members we are advocates for Alpine School District, public education and for all children. How do you see yourself in this role?
The candidates are:
After the interviews, the board will convene in a closed session to discuss the character and competence of the candidates. The board will then reconvene on Wednesday, March 30 at 4pm to vote on which candidate should have the open position. After the vote, the new board member will receive the oath of office.