JANUARY 8 BOARD MEETING
NEW BOARD MEMBERS The first Board meeting of 2013 began with the swearing in of two new board members and the re-installation of another. Brian Halladay will represent the Pleasant Grove cluster and Scott Carlson the newly-formed Lehi cluster. Lehi has been my area for the past two years, giving me two high schools, three middle schools and twenty elementary schools in one hundred square miles, 25,000 of the 70,000 students in ASD. Whew! While I have loved my Lehi constituents and worked hard to cover our vigorously growing region, true local control demands a Board member representing Lehi. So with both reluctance and relief I welcome the new configuration, which reduced the Orem Board members from three to two—Terry Peterson retired, and Debbie Taylor now represents both the Timpanogas and Orem High clusters. JoDee Sundberg (Mountain View cluster) was elected with me (Westlake cluster) two years ago, along with Wendy Hart (Lone Peak cluster) and John Burton (American Fork cluster). We run again in 2014. (Clusters consist of a high school and all its feeder schools)
ELECTION of BOARD OFFICERS We also elected Board officers for the next two years. We work closely together, and seven is not such a big number that there are any surprises. Wendy Hart and John Burton ran for president, and I ran for vice president against JoDee Sundberg. John is our new president and JoDee the new veep, which I pretty well knew going in, but both Wendy and I wanted to provide a choice that would lead to discussion. If I am re-elected in two years, I will run for Board officer again. As I pointed out in discussions with my fellow members, I am a gracious loser, and I have plenty of practice as I often lose the vote on the Board. Hey, that’s good—my campaign promise was to speak up and to offer new and fresh ideas, so be happy for me, I am doing my job. Just not as vice president.
JANUARY 22 BOARD MEETING- study session
SPACE CENTER The Space Center staff is currently in rehearsal and missions should be operational in the next week or so. The immediate short term plans are to run the Space Center at Central Elementary, even though not all of the simulators will be used, such as the Magellan. Clients will be limited to fifth grade so those children who might have missed out on this memorable activity during the updating will have a chance. There will be no after hours or weekend missions. Long term plans are still on the drawing board. Options include a new building next to Central, or building on ASD property near the water tower in PG, or a partnership with Thanksgiving Point, who can offer 4,000 sq. ft. in the Dinosaur Museum that will be vacant immediately.
LEHI HIGH SCHOOL The re-build of Lehi High will accommodate for the growth anticipated before the second high school is open in 2016. There will be an 18-room satellite on the far north end of the school property (currently parking) ready for 2013-14, paid for by bond funds. The next project planned will be a three-story brick and mortar addition of 12-16 classrooms to be built at the southwest end of the school, projected to be paid from district funds. Future plans include an auditorium, also three-story, that would be an anchor for the school, and built dependending on funding.
THIS ‘N THAT
SCHOOL SECURITY I have had many, many emails and letters about school security, as the shootings in Connecticut before Christmas have left us all more aware. The District has a safety committee that is reviewing a plethora of issues and has already directed some changes. It just wouldn’t make sense to list what they are doing and point out to the whole world (well, at least you, Dear Reader) any weaknesses. But all safety systems are being examined and
USBA CONFERENCE Alpine Board of Education members attended a two-day conference at the Little America Jan. 11-12. There were classes and training, including one very well-attended presentation on finances by ASD Financial Officer Rob Smith, displays and exhibits, discussion by and with legislators, and way too much to eat (burp).
BUS BARN IN SARATOGA SPRINGS Plans are moving forward for the bus barn on the northeast corner of the ASD property anchored by Westlake High, with a berm and landscaping to screen the buses. Housing the 100+ buses that serve Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain should save money for the District (and the taxpayer). The Herald article mentioning natural gas facilities is a little premature, but we are discussing the option. There is natural gas available at the old bus barn in Lindon as a courtesy to the area, as ASD buses do not use natural gas.
TEXT BOOK SELECTION I have been asked about the selection of texts, especially history books, as patrons have become aware of the possibility of choices they feel may not be appropriate. Let me explain: classroom books are not only a school level decision, but a teacher choice. True, there is a list of approved materials at the state level, but the truth is teachers are in charge. When I taught social studies, as an adjunct to my English classes (a wonderful combination!) I cobbled together my curriculum from a variety of sources (all hail the copy machine!) and only have a vague recollection of texts available.
That being said, the question should be raised at the classroom level. If this is your child, it’s pretty easy to talk to the teacher. But if you do not have a direct connection, all patrons have a right to ask (politely) school personnel what resources are being used. Just stop by any ASD school and make a request.
SNOW DAYS We certainly have had some weather! When the snows hit, you can find out about closures at the ASD website by 6:30 a.m. and it will also be posted on Facebook and Twitter.
I had my own blizzard (small) of emails and phone calls last week from parents who did not agree with the District decision to hold school. I have passed on these comments to the decision-makers, and realize the quandary. When schools are open, you kind of assume the roads must be safe, and some patrons found themselves in situations that were certainly dangerous. My route to a Board meeting that is usually 15 minutes was 50, so you have my sympathy.
But there are so many consequences to a closure, it’s a hard decision to make at 5:30 on a dark winter morning. There are people in every corner of the District reporting in, and consequences must also be considered. Parents must scramble for day care, transportation details are shuffled, and then there’s coordinating with those not in the school system. Then comes April, when we do the make-up, another set of problems. When I was teaching, an unexpected day off just meant my lesson plans were scrambled (and I usually did school work that day anyway) and I would have to change or cancel any plans I had for spring break, knowing I would be teaching to very small classes.
For the future, I would suggest the old nurse’s slogan: if in doubt, keep ‘em out. Of course there are consequences to that choice to, but another cliché, Safety First. Teachers should be pretty flexible with students who miss.