Welcome to the latest Superintendent Snapshot. To submit a question, send an email to email@example.com.
Dear Granite School District Families,
Over the last week, many parents and employees from across the district have shared their concerns with me regarding the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. I am reminded of holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s warning about remaining silent:
“When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy….wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at the moment – become the center of the universe.”
I was born only five years after my mother immigrated to this country, having fled her home twice – once when it was reduced to rubble by bombs and once for political reasons. I was born here in America and served in the United States Army, including a deployment in Europe during Desert Storm. I am fiercely patriotic and a loyal citizen of the United States. My own story is not very different from many people across our great country, including many here in our school district.
Part of my pride in the United States is our fundamental constitutional commitment to provide equal protection to all under the law. It is unlawful and inappropriate for children in schools to be treated differently from other children on the basis of status of any kind. There is no such thing as “our kids” and “their kids” or “those kids.” All kids are “our kids.”
More importantly, I am concerned that any of our students, and in particular at this time, our African American students, have feelings of discomfort or danger. We have made many strides over the years to create a safe learning environment and are committed to providing the services all of our students need to be successful.
I continue to call on all of our employees, teachers, and administrators to let no student feel that they are somehow second class or at risk of losing something because of their race, national origin or any other status. We have a unique opportunity in the history of our nation to be able to listen and offer empathy and understanding to those who unnecessarily suffer. We will provide needed strength and assistance through the power of education and we are committed to be bold and creative in this effort.
I encourage parents, patrons and community members to do likewise.
For any help or assistance with your child’s education, please do not hesitate, even during the summer break, to reach out to your principal directly, or to the district itself at 385-646-5000.
Thanks for your continued help and support.
Dr. Martin W. Bates, Superintendent
Welcome to the latest Superintendent Snapshot. Have a question or comment for Dr. Bates? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the latest Superintendent Snapshot. To submit a question, send an email to email@example.com
Welcome to the latest snapshot. To submit a question, email it here.
Welcome to the latest snapshot. To submit a question, email it here.
Here is the latest superintendent snapshot recognizing the great efforts of local local enforcement in providing our students with wonderful crossing guards. The board will be formally recognizing crossing guards at the March board meeting. Please watch the video here.
I’ve had conversations with lots of you, and have heard from many more. I want to start by thanking our transportation folks, our custodians and maintenance folks, and everyone else who has pitched in to help with snow (teachers, secretaries, parents, volunteers, and on and on). I am struck again and again by what a powerful and amazing group of folks you are!
Many have asked what in the world I am thinking by not closing schools – I want to answer that question.
I came in from shoveling last night at about 11:00. I went out again this morning around 5:00. There on my driveway was my newspaper. My “newspaper boy” isn’t a kid on a bike or with the bag slung over his shoulders, it’s a guy who drives through the neighborhood delivering the papers. I wondered for a moment why he didn’t take the day off, but I know the answer – he knows we count on him.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we are newspaper carriers (although many of us have been!), but we are counted on at least as much as they are. There are some 68,000 students and more than twice that many parents, guardians and other interested folks, who count on us to be there – the same as we all count on mail carriers, police departments, municipal and county offices to do their parts. Not many years ago, we did cancel schools for snow. Perhaps you remember the backlash from those from all corners of the district whose children were left home without supervision (and for many in our district, breakfast and lunch). The backlash started up all over again a few months later when we reminded everyone in the spring that a make-up day would be held. I have reflected on that, and countless emails and telephone conversations the last couple of weeks – with many perspectives both critical and supportive. In that light, I’d like to share our protocol:
We receive reports both late and early about road conditions, transportation capability, and the status of our buildings. If the reports indicate that we can transport children safely, and our buildings can be opened and operated safely, then the public ought to be able to count on us. If reports are to the contrary, then we evaluate whether a late start would resolve the situation. If the answer is still no, then we will close the affected schools.
We clearly don’t control snow removal and road conditions in the neighborhoods our schools serve. Therefore we need to have (and we express) full confidence in parents to make the call whether conditions are such that their children can safely get to school through their neighborhoods, on sidewalks and across safe walking routes. I see this as quite similar to a parent deciding whether a child is too sick to attend school. We defer to their judgment. Consequently, if a parent believes conditions are not safe, then parents should not send their children at that time – and it is my expectation that schools will be understanding regarding tardiness and absences.
Some might say that a day with lots of snow, when many parents keep students home, will not be a very productive school day. I respectfully suggest from our experience that a make-up day in April will be neither particularly well attended nor educationally productive.
Again, I thank all of you for being who you are, and more specifically, for your amazing work and commitment to kids.
Question – Why are classified employees expected to pay for fingerprinting and for some of us…again? I had my fingerprints taken when I was first hired…and I’m pretty sure they haven’t changed. Also I am confused as to why it is $45. I’ve worked for and work for several employers that require yearly background checks and all I simply do is fill out a form and HR submits it, and I have NEVER been charged for it. Not only is it expensive, but it is being taken out around the holidays, and people are already struggling.
Response – Utah Rule (R277-516-4) requires that all classified employees and volunteers with significant unsupervised access to students must have a regular background check. We have determined to do this on the same five-year cycle as with licensed employees.
As you may be aware, teachers have been required to pay for their own fingerprinting costs for some time. Their cost is substantially more (currently $74) than the $45 charged to classified employees. This delivers an FBI background check to cover all 50 states, and is the best tool to protect students.
It is unfortunate that we needed to schedule fingerprinting around the holidays but it was necessary in order to print the numbers of classified employees Granite employs. We did not have the luxury to skip November, December and January – there were simply too many employees to print. Please know that we value your work and service to children.
The HR office has two fingerprint machines and employs additional help to accommodate the expanded requirement this year for fingerprinting. They currently print from 7:00 am to 3:45pm Monday through Friday.
Thanks to the HR Department for their assistance in responding to this question.
Question – There seems to be more blocked websites this year than in the past and I feel like it is hindering my teaching. I have submitted requests to the help desk to see if these sites can be unblocked and I have not received any response, and they have not been unblocked. The sites are very valid and useful educational websites.
Response – As a requirement to receive federal funds to help offset our district cost for internet connectivity to schools we are required to do internet content or web filtering. We also believe as a district it is in our best interest to protect our students from inappropriate content. To accomplish this we purchase a web filter along with the service from the company to categorize all the millions of web sites for us. We receive frequent updates automatically from the vendor on web sites as to their content on a subscription basis. The administration of the district has determined the categories the web filter provides us with of which to block. Obvious ones like Pornography are easy to categorize and block. There are some categories that are very broad in nature. Some of the web sites in these categories could be appropriate some not. We have been on the side of caution for those categories and blocked them. Two of the sites you mentioned are in that category those being the KQED and icebreaker. We did validate in our schools that they are blocked. We also checked the other two web sites at 3 separate schools and neither educemic nor YouTube were blocked at those sites. If you are still having problems at your site please contact your STS/LMETS or NE for help.
We understand that since we blocked a very general category that we need to make exceptions. Those exceptions should go through the Education Technology Department not information Systems and the help desk. ET is in charge of assessing the best tools to be used to deliver curriculum. They take under consideration the site that is asked to be opened and it’s educational value. Then they contact I.S. to ask them to allow the site. You should see in the near future a better method in requesting a site be allowed and or blocked in our schools.
Thanks to I.S. and Ed. Tech. for their help in responding to this question.