School board gets annual reports

by David Boyle
News Director
Members of the San Juan School Board received annual enrollment and education reports, discussed the next school year calendar, and chose a general contractor for the new Blanding Elementary School at their latest meeting.
Members of the San Juan School Board received the annual enrollment report at their November 8 meeting. 
The total student enrollment in the district was reported as 2,831 a decrease of 50 students districtwide. That figure is also the lowest district-wide enrollment number over the past decade. With a 10-year average of 3,021 students.
The school with the largest enrollment drop was Blanding Elementary with a decrease of 27 students, Tse’Bii’Nidzisgai Elementary saw an enrollment decrease of 19 students, with 18 less at Monticello High and 15 less at Monument Valley High school.
The school with the largest enrollment increase was Monticello Elementary School which had an increase of 10 students.
The district report also listed the number of ethnic minority students enrollment figures. The district has 1,690 ethnic minorities enrolled in the district, a decrease of 48 students from the year previous.
Superintendent Christine Fitzgerald also presented the Utah State Board of Education reports for the district and schools. Fitzgerald noted that the report cards are no longer presented with letter grades but rather points awarded in various areas.
As part of the school district profile, Fitzgerald noted the district’s improvement in the teacher retention rate of 67 percent. Fitzgerald also noted that 78-percent of teachers in the district have seven or more years of teaching experience. The report also showed that greater than 90 percent of students in the district are economically disadvantaged.
The district was rated in different categories at the Kindergarten through 8th grade level and the high school level.
English learner progress was placed in the critical needs category for both elementary and secondary groups. Achievement was rated as developing in both elementary and secondary groups with growth given the highest ranking of exemplary for both elementary and secondary groups. Postsecondary readiness was rated as typical. Additional details on the district score and the reports for individual schools can be found online at Reportcard.Schools.Utah.Gov.
Members of the school district also received a report on high school students taking college concurrent enrollment courses. A total of 165 students in the district are enrolled in at least one concurrent enrollment course with eight students taking Advanced Placement courses.
Assistant Superintendent Derek Begay explained that the district saw an increase in concurrent enrollment in all but two measured demographics.
18.2 percent of students who are economically disadvantaged are enrolled in at least one college course, with 23.4-percent of non-English learning high school students in concurrent enrollment, and 9.4-percent of students learning English enrolled in higher learning classes.
Along ethnicity, 100-percent of Pacific Islander high school students are in concurrent enrollment with 28.8-percent of white students enrolled, 22.2-percent hispanic/latino students, 20-percent mixed race students, and 11.2-percent of American Indian students in concurrent enrollment.
At the meeting the board also unanimously selected Westland as the General Contractor for the new Blanding Elementary School. Westland was one of two companies to submit a proposal for the new school; an evaluation committee, including board members Merri Shumway and Nan Barton, ranked the two bids with the board ultimately selecting Westland.
Board President Lori Maughn asked if just two proposals for the general contractor was common. Business Administrator Tyrel Pemberton shared that the Bluff Elementary school had four proposals while Monticello Elementary had three.
“In visiting with BDK their assumption was in the current construction market, they made the comment that we were kind of lucky to even get two, with the way that some of the construction market is going right now, to submit.”
Pemberton also shared the district has submitted an application to the rural schools capital project grant. The $50 million funded by the state legislature is available for rural schools to apply to for construction projects. With an initial review in November, the state school board is expected to make recommendations and approvals of funding in early January.
Pemberton also shared that the Blanding Elementary School design team should be bringing updates to school committees sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas break.
Members of the San Juan School Board also discussed next year’s school calendar.
District HR Administrator Laura Palmer shared three options with the board, as well as survey results completed by 171 district staff. 62-percent of respondents favored option 1. That option would continue a new format started this year. Teachers would start the school year with two teacher days before students reported for their first day. Option 1 would also have teacher days implemented before the start of each new quarter. The option would also have two half-days for Career and College Readiness (CCR). One day in September and one in February. 
25-percent of teacher respondents preferred an option that would have three teacher days to start the year, with a teacher day after the 1st and 3rd quarters and two CCR half-days.
All options would line-up spring back to match the Utah State University schedule. Palmer says she did look at lining up the first quarter break with the start of the deer hunt, but was unable to do so as it would throw the length of the quarter out-of-balance.
Board members asked that parents also be surveyed about the calendar.

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