Paula Hill 4 School Board

October 31, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — paulahill4u @ 5:42 am


An important part of my school board work is representing the patrons of Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Fairfield and Cedar Fort as I work with city and state officials. I have enjoyed the fine men and women I have met in so many different arenas, and I appreciate their support:

Rep. Dave Lifferth, Utah State Legislature, House District 2

I hope that you will vote for Paula Hill to represent our area on the Alpine School District Board. She is one of the conservatives on that board that is guiding the future of Alpine School District in the right direction.

I have enjoyed working with Paula. While we do agree on most things, she and I have not always agreed on every single policy or legislation, but she is a delight to work with. She is a very kind and thoughtful person. She bases her votes on her many years of experience in the class room as a school teacher AND on her conservative principles.

Like me, Paula works hard to represent the people in our area. She is very accessible and readily available to discuss any issues with.

She has earned my trust and the people that she represents. She is definitely worthy of re-electing. She has my vote and I hope that you will also vote to re-elect Paula Hill to the Alpine School Board.


Chris Pengra, Mayor Eagle Mountain

As mayor of Eagle Mountain, I pride myself in being very involved with the community.  I think I have met my match in Paula Hill as I see her at almost every civic event held in this City!  Paula Hill cares about this community and she is a strong, conservative, and principled woman…. I see her not only attending, but engaged in this community.  For those reasons and more, it is my great pleasure to endorse Paula Hill.


Jim Miller, Mayor Saratoga Springs

As the first ASD Board member from the west side of the lake, Paula has represented our community and the growth issues we face. She has used her experience in the classroom to make a difference.


Michael McOmber, City Council Saratoga Springs 

I am honored to endorse Paula Hill for re-election to her second term on the Alpine School District Board.  I have been impressed with her ability to work with her peers to implement many of her conservative platforms that she publishes openly in her communications to constituent’s.”


Clay Christensen, President MATC (Mountainland Applied Technology College)

Paula is one of our most supportive Directors….she carries out her responsibilities with diligence and care.






October 29, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — paulahill4u @ 7:18 am


Dozens of students turned out at the Board meeting tonight, mostly from Lone Peak and American Fork High Schools. They spoke at the public comments, and were quite passionate in defense of the clubs they loved. Faculty advisers and others also spoke in support of the clubs, and I listened with interest and concern—and took a couple of hits as there were comments about the Board meeting two weeks ago where two of us, Wendy Hart and myself, voted against approval of the clubs.

At the Oct. 14 meeting, Wendy’s amendment to the motion to approve the clubs had been that we defer action until we had met with legal counsel. I seconded it, and a discussion followed. The amendment failed, and the motion to approve the clubs passed four to two. Our “no” votes were not against the clubs, but against not asking our attorneys for an opinion where State Law was not clear to us.

It would seem that word-of-mouth was quite different from what had actually taken place, and these delightful young people had taken up the cause with fervor. Opinions were stated, feelings were vented, and in the end it was actually very positive, as public debate can be. I felt that a lot had been resolved and well-meaning people had come to understand each other better.

A Board meeting is exactly that, a meeting of the Board to conduct business. Public comments are not responded to directly, as the meeting is not a forum for questioning or debate. But I broke protocol at the end of the comments to address these beautiful and determined young people. I knew I would never have a better opportunity to clarify my vote and explain my position.

First, I asked a bit of leeway, pointing out that all but one of the speakers had had a script that they had read, and I was being held feet-to-fire for spontaneous comments I made in the discussion. I made it clear that I was not an unfeeling bigot, even a bad Mormon, who needed an education as had been charged. I choked up a little mentioning my beautiful grandson, my first grandchild, born on my birthday, my beloved Mikael, who is gay. I told how we spent a week in Colorado with a charming gay nephew. But we don’t think of Mikael or Jonny as “gay,” they are our family and we love and accept them. I am glad there are students who rally round and support their fellows, and I hope my Mikael had friends like them.

Did I say these were beautiful young people? As I looked out there were girls on the front row giving me the sign language for “I Love You,” a universal gesture of friendship.  How could they know I knew signs? So charming.

Then I explained that yes, last year I questioned the Board approval of the Gay Straight Alliance. Utah State Statute says, “A school shall limit or deny…or require changes… if …their means of expression…involve human sexuality….” I understood the club and the noble purposes, but my interpretation would be that the name, and only the name, was prohibited by State law. I felt we should require the change as directed by statute to a name that reflected the true purpose of the club as a service club.

I lost the motion, and a few weeks later was handed a lengthy legal description of why we could not deny the club. That was not what I had questioned or proposed, but, as usual, I try to lose graciously.

When the club issue was brought to the Board again this year, I had not changed my position. Wendy Hart also had some reservations as two of the clubs had to do with mental health, also prohibited by Statute without some very careful parameters.  But our Board president and vice-president set the agenda, and by omission we have never been allowed to meet with our attorneys to ask for clarification on any matter.

After the meeting, the young people made a huge circle of friendship, and I almost joined them—but thought I might look a little cheesy. Several came up and spoke to me, and I had a chance to visit with one of the adults who had taken particular offense to some  things I expressed badly at the last meeting (I need to listen to the audio, I guess, but I hate to hear my own voice).

I have taken the stand from my first meeting with the Board that open and vigorous debate is healthy and strengthening. I have been slapped down more than once for supporting spirited discussion, but tonight’s meeting made me more determined than ever to allow, even encourage, exchange of opinions, even heated.


October 27, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — paulahill4u @ 6:24 pm

Dear Candidates,

I am sending this survey to you on behalf of Utah County Republican Party Chairman Casey Voeks and the UCRP Steering Committee.     Signed Kristen Chevrier. Education Officer, Utah County Republican Party

Candidate Survey Questions


  1. All candidates say they are for local control. What do you mean by “local control”? Please give an example of what local control looks like and how it interacts with the state and federal government?

First, let me say what local control is not. It is not the local School Community Council making decisions on policy and budget, school by school, whim by whim, with no accountability to the taxpayer for how taxpayer funds are used. True local control would be the nearest elected representative of the people, the school board, with oversight and accountability, directing policy and budget. School Boards should step up by resisting inappropriate efforts to direct our schools for particular agendas.

Local control would be decisions being made at by those nearest to the issues, whether it be classroom, school, district or state.

Would there be a role for the state? Absolutely. Utah Constitution Article X: The Legislature shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of the state’s education systems. Is there a role for the Federal government? Not jot nor tittle: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

  1. Describe what education means to you.

Education is providing the means for the student to discover truth. Truth and light should be the goal for every learner, and for every teacher who interacts with the learner.


  1. Utah allows charter, private, and home schools considerable freedom to choose their curriculum. Do you believe the principals in traditional public schools should have the same flexibility, so they could experiment with things like teaching traditional math in Chinese? Why or why not?

Once upon a time there was actually a federal program that allowed such flexibility: Goals 2000 (1994) I was allowed to teach 9th grade geography and world history to the same students I had in my English classes. It was paradise! With The Diary of Ann Frank we studied WWII in Europe; with Shakespeare we studied the Renaissance; with poetry we studied the East, including world religions. When we were suddenly in Desert Storm, I smiled knowing there were a hundred students in Orem who knew the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni. But, all good things must come to an end, I suppose. Even though I had scored 94 percentile on the National Teachers of Social Studies Exam, had even taught social studies in both Texas and California, the USOE demanded I take course work toward earning a Utah credential. With a masters plus a zillion hours, I declined, and that was that. Obviously I find value in principals being able to experiment with what works for that school, that faculty, that student body. Our principals are being trained to be education leaders in their schools, not just managers, so let them lead.

  1. The Utah State Board of Education resolution 2014-01 claims Utah has local control over Utah Core Standards, even though Utah does not hold the copyright. It also claims that the teacher determines the curriculum, even though the procedure for teaching the integrated math program is mandated. Do we or do we not have local control over curriculum?

Utah has control of Utah Core Standards, which is basically every subject except math and language arts (so far).  Those standards have morphed and transitioned with every educational twist and turn—as a teacher I had a file of standards I had been handed to teach over the years since the USOE simply decided to start issuing state standards in the 1980’s.

Utah does not have control of the math and language arts standards created by the Common Core program. We may add 15%, so we flexed our pitiful muscle and added cursive (culturally correct: how else can our children do family history?) But we have signed away our right to subtract a single line.

It is true teachers have control of the curriculum, that is the methods and materials used to meet the standards. But the simple fact is teachers teach to the test–of course we do, that’s our job, So the assessment tool actually controls the entire program, and teachers will use what works to succeed with the tests.


  1. What is your position on issuing bonds for the school district? In what cases, if any, would it be appropriate?

Should we be debt free? Absolutely. But I have a mortgage on my house, and the same principle applies to building a school. As a representative of the fastest growing corner of the county, let alone the state, I have a great interest in financing new schools. There is no doubt Eagle Mountain must have a high school, as Westlake in Saratoga Springs will be well past 3,000 students before we can finance another school, and that large capital expense would need bonding.

Alpine does an amazing job with their finances. The bonds are borrowed a chunk at a time, as earlier bonds are retired, which keeps the tax rate relatively flat. The financial arm of the district shops the bond prices astutely, and the tax payer is well-represented and well-protected.

Some of my Tea-Party friends, the “no taxes, period, ever,” disagree with me. When I ask what we would do without the means to build new schools, the answer is, “We’ll figure it out.” Sorry, a quarter of a century in the classroom  makes me adamant about experimenting on a whole generation of children—we bond every five years; five years is almost the whole elementary school education, or eighth grade to graduation. I feel very protective of our children

  1. Should all ASD employees pay their own association fees like the teachers do? Why or why not?

Of course they should.  I have been the first ASD Board member to state that in a school board meeting, but the response was a litany of how much the school board association does for us. What? We don’t work for the district, why should they pay our fees? And the district administration? It’s a crime for them not to pay their own way. The superintendent belongs to half a dozen associations—and he earns enough to pay his own freight.

  1. Should the school board have an independent panel of business owners, CPA’s, and other community members review the budget and make recommendations before it goes to the board for a vote? Why or why not?

The school board has been elected to represent the people. There are several members with business and financial backgrounds, several with educational experience, and several lay persons. Inserting another level of bureaucracy, a committee for heavens’ sake, each member with their own interpretation and philosophy, would not seem to be a benefit. The people have chosen their representatives.

  1. Do you believe suspending or reducing the property tax levy for Community Redevelopment projects is the proper role of a school district? Why or why not?

Government should not be picking winners and losers. Period. Micro-managing the economy is not the business of a school district.

That being said, tax incentives have been infused into the politics of economic development, and it is a reality. Alpine has a criterion for when to participate in RDA’s (CDA’s, whatever the initials). It’s actually pretty good, with six points that would allow a tax incentive for a very narrow project, such as creating a plant that would not exist without a competitive boost, resulting in economic growth and tax revenue that would otherwise not exist and that would be an asset to the schools. But politics get mixed with the criterion, and good old boys will be good old boys, and it is a slippery slope. There must be due diligence, from a body accountable to the public—hey, how about the school board?


  1. Whose interest should the school board represent first: the students, the teachers, the parents, or the district? Why?

We like to say, “What’s best for kids.” But it’s a much bigger picture, and a much bigger balancing act. It would be best to start high school at ten, first period is almost a throw-away of sleepy, tardy, bleary-eyed students. But we have to consider the buses, athletics, after-school jobs, and the costs to the taxpayer.

I balance my decisions on school needs (students and teachers) with the needs of the tax-payer (which would include parents).

  1. Alpine School District is a $500M, 7000 employee enterprise–a big business by every measure. Should membership on the “Board of Directors” require some minimum business or executive experience?  Why or why not?

The voters elect the “Board of Directors” from those who register to run, and voters should vet the candidates and choose those they feel represent them best. Micro-managing elections sounds like progressive philosophy, where the government can solve every problem, usually by committee.

  1. Do you believe parents should have able to opt their children out of the SAGE tests or should taking SAGE tests be a condition of enrollment?

Opt out should be a simple and direct choice. With all the teacher development hours that have gone and are going into training our teachers for Common Core, the opt-out decision should be as clear to the classroom teacher as it is to the administrator. The subtle (or not so subtle) bullying going on should be stamped out.

  1. What are some of the principles that will guide you in making decisions as a school board member?

My mission statement:

I represent the citizens of District 1, working with professionalism and integrity alongside my fellow board members and the administration of ASD to provide principle-based policy as a basis for quality education for every child in Alpine School District.

My personal code of conduct is to act with professionalism and integrity to:

  • represent my principles, which are conservative, family-centered, and Constitution-based
  • create an information-rich climate (the word “transparency” has lost its meaning)
  • advocate for educational excellence and resist national agendas
  • champion responsibility resting ultimately with the parent as steward of the child’s education, whether in district schools, charter schools, private schools, or the home
  • work for local control, bringing decisions to those nearest the issues
  • support fiscal responsibility

October 26, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — paulahill4u @ 4:49 am


I ask for your vote, which puts me on a Board directing a budget of half a billion dollars and setting policy for 74,000 of your precious children. On that note, I will share with you the activities I am involved in, certainly not a typical week, as every week is different. But these activities that are part of what makes Paula who she is.

My Board duties were fairly light, including meeting with the superintendent and two board members at Eagle Valley Elementary and touring the school with their wonderful new principal, Paula Tucker. I had planned to attend the legislative luncheon at MATC, but instead spent the afternoon at the funeral of a beloved uncle and then visiting with my 95 year-old step-father. I had to hurry to be at Lone Peak for the State School Board debate, trying to be an informed voter with a difficult choice between three really good candidates. Wendy Hart answered questions, but her opponent chose not to debate. Wednesday night was a Candidate Meet and Greet at Black Ridge, the new Eagle Mountain elementary school with the amazing Cami Larsen as the new principal. I enlisted a baker’s dozen of my grandkids to wear Paula Hill T-shirts and greet the crowd, rewarding them with a fistful of pre-Halloween loot.

Thursday morning started with a breakfast with the Kiwanis Club where Dave Lifferth, the Utah State House Representative who serves much the same clientele as I do. I am a charter member of the Westlake Kiwanis, whose motto is “Serving the Children of the World.” How could I not join? Rod dropped me off at Riverview Elementary School in Harvest Hills where I helped judge the Reflections contest, then treated myself to a long walk home, chatting with the custodian, the flagman at SR 73, a blind man in one park and the city workers and homeschool mothers at another. That evening I had to leave the District Community Council meeting at the district office a few minutes early and get to the Utah County Republican meeting late. I had been asked to speak, but chose the DCC meeting and just coming late for the winding  up.

Friday was a day to renew spiritually, and I spent several hours in the LDS Temple, coming home to set three dozen rolls for the church fall social that evening.

Saturday began with  a legislative breakfast at the MATC, for those (like me) who couldn’t make the Tuesday informational meeting. Breakfast again with Dave Lifferth, who left early to set up his booth at the Eagle Mountain Halloween Village. I didn’t have a booth, I just changed my school marm jacket for a Paula Hill T-shirt and drove the Paula-Mobile to the Village to trick or treat myself. Spent Saturday evening serving dinner to the poor at the Food and Care Coalition in Provo.

Busy, busy, blessedly busy. My FitBit has registered 22 miles walking and over a hundred flights of stairs climbed. I took time for a movie with Mr. Wonderful, but had to wait until Saturday for our weekly Friday sundae.

With Rrepresentative Dave Lifferth

Eagle Mountain Halloween Village

Blackr Rdge Elementary

Open House

There was a time in my life, with a flock of children and all the demands that entailed, that I would say, “I have more money than I have time—and I have no money.” But now I am at a wonderful time of my life where I have the flexibility of time and means to serve, and I ask for your vote to allow me to serve on the Alpine School District Board of Education for four more years.

October 20, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — paulahill4u @ 3:47 pm

A patron asked me to explain my opposition to Common Core, to the college-and-career-ready goal that sees our children as “human capital,” and to some of the statements in Alpine’s Mission, Vision, Values and Goals that puts me in the awkward position of supporting my teachers and administrators and still speaking up for what I believe.

I see the political and ideological lines referred to in The Deseret News article as a clear-cut division between the traditional, conservative philosophies and the liberal, progressive agenda. Speaking up can be risky, as the quick label is conspiracy-nut with a tin-foil hat, and I have felt the sting of derision. Still, I owe it to my voters to express and explain, to stand up and speak out.

The liberal agenda has always been around, with many names and many iterations. It’s the idea of a perfect society with central control and shared wealth. There have been numerous experiments throughout history with central management to equalize wealth, that is to redistribute whatever people have to make everything equal for everyone.

It’s social engineering, and it has never worked and never will. But it is continually rolled-out with the idea that this time it will be done right. The early Pilgrims started with that idea, until they almost starved and switched to individual ownership. JFK had the New Frontier, LBJ the Great Society and the War on Poverty, and today it’s Obamacare and Social Justice. It is no conspiracy, it is an open political philosophy embraced by many well-meaning people. But it is not justice, social or otherwise, for a power (government) to take what some formula has decided is fair and spread it around. The Poles were happy when the new Communist government broke up the huge landowners’ wealth and shared their property, but they squealed indignantly about their “rights” when the same government took over their private farms to set up communal projects.

By contrast, the alternate viewpoint is a system of free will and individual choice and accountability. It can be messy, with its own set of problems that can leave some messy, less-than-desirable debris. But free men have a better chance of solving problems than relegating them to a central power to social engineer, which has never worked and never will.

Socialists began an organized push at the turn of the last century, preaching, teaching, and proselyting to achieve the seductive goal of everything being “fair.” When the United Socialist States of Russia, the USSR (the Communist party), took over Russia in 1917, the word “socialist” became unpopular and morphed to “progressive,” but the premise of redistribution of wealth was still the underpinnings.

There were many splinters from the socialist movement, with many different names and focuses (foci, if you are proofreading this). Some were simply anarchy, railing against “the Man,” while others were well organized, such as the Humanist Society which elected leaders, held conferences, and published magazines. Their first president was John Dewey, a name known and revered in educational circles even today. The first item on their list of beliefs was that there is no God, and down the list they cite relativism, or the idea that there is no absolute truth, it all depends.

Leaders in the early movement worked hard and rose to the top in three major areas: government, education and the media. If you look at a map of the United States, you will see the vast middle of the country colored conservative red. The blue areas of concentration are on both coasts and the big cities: Hollywood, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and most university towns.

It’s easy to spot the liberal agenda in politics. It’s the platform of the Democrats, or the Left. And we certainly see it in the media, just listen to the news, or the Hollywood celebs on this crusade or that. And we know it flourishes on the college campuses.

In education it’s not so black and white. And many of the progressive goals sound great, and good people see goodness. I work with the best people in the world, doing commendable work and achieving great goals. It isn’t the details that alarm me as much as looking at this big picture and sometimes seeing the progressive goal for centralization, standardization, and equalization.

The fuss, and the passion, is currently with Common Core, including SAGE testing and the possibility of data mining, created by a national committee with national standards and goals, the very definition of central control. We are allowed to add 15% but cannot delete any part, and teachers and parents can’t to see the tests, except for fifteen parents with one encounter under questionable circumstances.

And liberals never give up, these are just the latest iterations. When these fail, and they will, they will trot out more new programs with the same agenda: more central control and more social engineering. Watch for the next new reform to be global and based on environmentalism.

Call me crazy. But I have my own vision for education, education with a goal of seeking truth and light. It’s a Utah vision, for Utah kids, Utah parents, and Utah schools. I see a hundred points of light, hundreds and hundreds of classrooms, free to innovate and individualize and create, working under the aegis of the State of Utah, Constitutionally given the authority for education within its boundaries. We have the talent to create the best education system. We are unique—let that uniqueness be our strength. Let us be independent in our stand for what we know to be true and correct.

I have taught all over the country—Texas, California, Washington, D.C., New York, Utah; and in many parts the world—the Caribbean, the South China Sea, Mexico; and I say unequivocally that we have the best teachers, the best administrators, the best schools. We don’t need to be “common,” we are already exceptional. Let’s harness that exceptionalism and stand independent, Utah education for Utah children.

October 11, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — paulahill4u @ 10:32 pm

Seek First to Understand…

Four years ago, my first campaign for school board, my joke was that I was able to annoy anybody—The Heritage Foundation didn’t trust me because I had been part of the education establishment (25 years as a teacher) and the Eagle Forum leader pretty well shredded me on her radio program. On the Establishment side, the Alpine Teacher’s Association refused to endorse me (I had not asked) with no explanation (maybe they knew I had never joined the union) and I heard of comments from a couple of local principals which were definitely not favorable. I joked, “Something for everyone to dislike!”

I was very open about wanting to be a bridge of sorts, to be able to work with all opinions on issues, while still defending the principles that defined me as a person and as an educator. I can’t find the You Tube video I made (do they expire?) but it is a clear statement that I intended to work together, seeking first to understand, and then to be understood (we don’t often get to the second part, but hope springs eternal…)

I was also clear on my rejection of the influence of progressive educators such as John Goodlad (heck, all the way back to John Dewey, the first president of The Humanist Society), which put me at odds with the Alpine School District and their partnership with Goodlad’s group. It is not such an issue these days, but I still have it in my cross-hairs and work to reform our philosophy statements where I can. It seldom is allowed to come to a vote, but I push here and there, and when I lose the vote, which I always do, I lose graciously.

I took my lumps as a new board member, pairing up with Wendy Hart for support, sometimes coming out of meetings feeling pretty beat-up. But time passed, and my efforts to disagree without being disagreeable have been the underpinnings of my relationships with my colleagues and we have developed a workable relationship.

So this election the AEA has chosen to endorse me. Again I didn’t ask, in fact I missed the routine interview, and I was quite surprised to be endorsed. It is well-known that I stand firmly against Common Core, as well as a few other positions the administration supports. But it is also well-known that I do so with courtesy and the spirit of working together for the benefit of the entire district, children, teachers, patrons and tax-payers.

September 20, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — paulahill4u @ 4:03 pm


It was interesting to meet with the mayors and staff of the three northwest cities in Alpine School District. The meeting with the Lehi City Council was one of the regular District/City luncheons, hosted alternatively by each group, to share information and concerns. Lehi City planners showed the growth of this once-quiet once-small town, and it was amazing. Lehi population equals about the same as Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain combined, and the growth rates seem comparable. They gave information on the four largest CDA’s (tax incentives) which were IMFlash, Adobe, Xactware, and Thanksgiving something (my notes are sloppy on which development it was), expiring as late as 2034. Interesting to see the numbers, but hard to compare to what might have been with allowing the free market to work. Just not enough information, and the bean counters don’t count that way.
I left that meeting a bit early to make it to Westlake (a bit late) for the Westlake Inter-agency Network (WIN) which coordinates the efforts of both Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain and includes police, fire departments, support agencies and schools. Most of the principals of the Alpine schools and charter schools attended. Saratoga City planners showed growth patterns and projections, including roads and businesses, and
Mayor Pengra of Eagle Mountain was there with his city planners to give us an over-view of their growth and plans. What a lively–and lovely–area to represent!

September 14, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — paulahill4u @ 9:11 pm


There is a lot of buzz about the request for a tax benefit for the Orem Mall, to be re-branded University Place.  I was surveyed by Pat Jones, of Dan Jones and Associates, where I first heard the plan proposed (to tell the truth, it was pretty blatant for a supposed “survey”).  I am not on the Buildings and Grounds Committee where representatives came to pitch the plan, but I followed all the discussions, right up to last week when the Board had a public discussion. The next step, at the October meeting, will be a vote. 

I would like to explain the pros, and then give my take as to why they are wrong. Please click the paula’s commentary on the right-side-bar,  #1 orem mall



Filed under: Uncategorized — paulahill4u @ 4:59 am


Helloooo, Blog.

I see you have missed me.

I know it’s not very nice, but I have been spending time with your cousin, Facebook. He’s fun for small talk and joking around, and has introduced me to so many of his friends. I have been able to reach out to many of those who post and we have had some great conversations. I can also “like” others and be part of their conversation, too.

I also run around with Email quite a bit. It’s a very private friendship and allows us to talk about sensitive things. It’s the best part of my job, working one-on-one with patrons and helping them address their concerns.

I hope we can be friends again. There are some issues I would like to talk to you about that Facebook and Email just don’t work with well.

So, how about a date?

February 5, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — paulahill4u @ 5:10 am


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.


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.

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