Thanks to the GEA and PTA whose hard work helped to educate voters regarding the proposed bond. We will begin the process to implement these projects as quickly as possible. Please continue to visit the website and this blog for updates on how the bond projects are proceeding.
1. How can we be sure the Board won’t raise taxes for this bond – like the ballot says they can?
The Board of Education has very publicly committed not to raise taxes to pay for these bonds. Historically the Board of Education has kept its promises. To break this promise would significantly compromise the ability of individual board members to be reelected.
2. What is to hold the board to their commitment?
The Board of Education unanimously approved the “project list.” Historically the Board of Education has kept its promises. To deviate from that list would significantly compromise the ability of individual board members to be reelected.
3. If we don’t live in the county can we still vote?
Only residents of Granite School District will be involved in this election.
4. Will only two new elementary schools be needed in the West Valley/Magna area in the next 20 years?
We know the area needs two right now and the pay-as-you-go strategy is not sufficient to build those.
5. Where did the $17 million come from?
The $17 million comes out of the capital outlay budget.
6. Where will students be located while our school is being rebuilt?
This will need to be evaluated. It has been our practice to hold school in the existing building for school while the new building is built whenever possible. Communities are involved in this planning.
7. What would happen if an unseen emergency/catastrophic need arises?
The district is insured for emergencies and catastrophes. A significant contingency plan has been built into this bond and we are certain that we will be able to complete the list.
8. What schools will be air conditioned first?
As soon as the bond is passed we will develop a strategy for getting all schools air conditioned as quickly as possible. It is unlikely that any single contractor would be able to do all the schools at once so we will consider multiple contractors and review their suggestions as to how to move most quickly.
9. How were buildings identified for rebuild?
A number of factors go into this identification, including such considerations as instructional appropriateness, age of building, seismic ratings, cost of maintenance, cost of utilities, condition of roof, stable student populations and so on. Olympus and Granger High schools rose to the top of the list as did Oakwood and Woodstock Elementary schools.
10. Can we use swamp coolers instead of air conditioners?
There are a number of factors that make swamp coolers less desirable instructionally than air conditioning including noise, humidity and dust.
Granite District office staff, school faculties, and PTA and Community Council members have been viewing the bond presentation, which outlines specific information in relation to the upcoming November 3 bond election. After some intial technical difficulties, the bond presentation is now available on our district website at www.graniteschools.org. Click on “District plans bond election with no tax increase” and scroll down to find the video presentation link.
Please continue to feel free to submit your questions about the upcoming bond to firstname.lastname@example.org. Answers will be posted here.
By now, many of you have had the chance to watch the bond presentation at your school or will be watching it soon. School community councils and PTA’s are also viewing the same presentation. We encourage you to share this information with members of the public before the bond election on November 3.
Additionally, we understand that you may have questions regarding the bond and we encourage you to submit your questions to email@example.com. Answers to your questions will be posted here. To view the video on the bond, please visit the district’s website at www.graniteschools.org.
Dear Granite District Employees:
Now that year-round school has begun and with traditional schedules starting soon, I wanted to officially welcome all of you back to school. As I have driven throughout the district, I’ve noticed school parking lots filling up with cars. Please know that I appreciate your hard work and dedication to Granite District students.
I additionally wanted to update you with regards to the H1NI (Swine Flu) virus. Please be assured that the district is making every effort to provide you with the resources and information to ensure your safety and well-being as well as that of our students.
At this time, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Salt Lake Valley Health Department have indicated that the primary means for reducing the spread of influenza in schools, focuses on the identification of ill students and staff, and the practice of proper respiratory etiquette. School closures are no longer advised unless there is a magnitude of absenteeism that interferes with a school’s ability to function. Additionally, sick employees and students should always remain home. If individuals demonstrate influenza-like symptoms, they should remain home at least 24 hours after symptoms have resolved.
Preventative measures include:
• Frequent hand-washing with warm water for at least 20 seconds or
• Cleaning hands with an alcohol-based hand cleaner
• Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
then throwing it away or
• Coughing or sneezing into your upper sleeve or elbow (not your hands
The Salt Lake Valley Health Department has compiled some educational materials that may be helpful in explaining proper preventative measures:
• Why Don’t We Do it in Our Sleeves –
• Utah’s Health, It’s in Your Hands –
• H1N1 toolkit – http://www.slvhealth.org/h1n1/h1n1Toolkit.html
• A Communication toolkit for Schools –
Employees should also be aware of the changes in how H1N1 cases will be reported. Because of the lack of severity of this particular virus, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department is no longer tracking individual cases with the exception of hospitalized cases. This means that individual schools will not have specific information regarding cases within their populations.
As you may have heard, a vaccine is in development and we anticipate that our schools will be utilized for distribution efforts. We will notify you immediately regarding any pertinent information on these developments. We will continue to work closely with the Health Department to make decisions in the best interest of the safety and health of our employees and Granite District students.
We would caution our employees to be wary of rumors regarding this virus. Accurate and detailed information can be obtained throughout the school year by visiting the below listed websites, or by contacting the Health Department at 211 on your local phone.
We are looking forward to a healthy and successful school year. We appreciate your assistance in achieving this success.
Dr. Stephen F. Ronnenkamp
Superintendent, Granite School District
As we near the end of another school year, I want to personally thank each of you for your role in the development and encouragement of our students. As I look back on this school year, there were significant challenges that we have had to overcome. Yet, whether in the classroom or in the office, we have worked together to find success. There are far too many accomplishments from each school to individually list. However, we hear about your successes everyday and applaud your efforts.
I recently received a letter from grateful parents of a junior high student who transferred to a Granite school this year and found success in his math class after struggling with the subject for several years. Two proud parents in West Valley saw their fifth child graduate from Hunter High School this year. Their first graduated in 1996. Additionally, a member of the community recently wrote how thankful he was for a pen pal project that paired a fourth grade class with senior citizens.
Each patron understood and recognized that the success of students is reflective of the hard work put in by Granite faculty and staff.
Please remember that the district is here to work with you to the benefit of children, and we continue to appreciate your input and suggestions on how we can improve our service.
While some of your schools are still in session throughout the summer months, I want to wish each of you an enjoyable summer vacation.
Dear Patrons and Employees:
As of the May 5, 2009 board meeting, the district has agreed to a preliminary balanced budget. Teachers should be reassured that the board of education worked through the difficult budget cuts and decisions with the following guiding principles in mind:
- Minimize the impact on the classroom
- Provide essential support to all students
- Bear the impact across the system
- Minimize the loss of positions
- Root decisions in long-term perspective
- Balance the budget
The administration and board scheduled additional meetings to work toward a balanced budget. That goal was achieved at the May 5, 2009 board meeting. While you will hear in the news regarding other school districts working to resolve their budget issues, Granite School District has been proactive in getting these issues resolved early on in the budget cycle.
Some of the key budget cuts include:
District Office–$4.4 million by cutting 95 total personnel/positions. To the utmost extent possible, these personnel were shifted to openings in schools. This included such positions as reading, math and music specialists. These cuts will impact services to schools. It is important to note that Granite School District already had the lowest administrative costs in the state and nation.
Elimination of pay increases for all personnel other than teachers (including district administration). The increase in the teachers salary package will help offset the impact of the 5.5 days of professional development cut by legislature.
An increase in staffing ratios by .25 students K-12.
Elimination of two school days from 2009-10 calendar. These days will now be utilized for professional development time for teachers. This will compensate for 5.5 days of professional development time cut by the legislature. The board and administration feel that providing preparation and professional development time is essential in order to provide quality classroom instruction.
The Granite District board of education and administration has worked hard to minimize the impact of these budget cuts on the classroom. Additionally, we especially appreciate the input that our employees have provided to help shape these important decisions.
As the budget cycle has progressed, I have appreciated the time that so many of you have taken to send your comments to the board and myself. We have literally received several hundred emails and calls. This type of direct input from our personnel is essential to ensure that the board has all the information it needs to make these difficult decisions regarding our budget.
As we received your input, we catalogued this information for each of our board members. Additionally, the superintendency, along with our budget director Mitch Robison, reviewed each suggestion to determine potential cost savings. All of this information was then relayed to the board in their study sessions and board meetings. We have posted the most recent information from these presentations on the district homepage or click here.
Per the administration’s recommendation, the school board made several key decisions at the April 21 board meeting including district level cuts and shifts in funding sources involving 95.5 positions, and totaling over $4 million. The board also reduced the number of student attendance days for 2009-10 by two to allow teachers additional paid professional development time. This is to compensate for the 5.5 days that were cut by the legislature. Additional information is available in the Board Report.
I appreciate your continued comments and suggestions as we work to finalize the budget for next year. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the students we serve.
Now that the 2009 legislative session has concluded, we have been able to begin evaluating the impact on both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 budgets. This memorandum describes what the financial impact of those decisions appears to be for the Granite School District.
Before I begin, I first want to express my gratitude for our legislators’ hard work in crafting budgets that are aimed at lessening the financial impact on the children of our state. Public education could have faced a 14-17 percent cut in revenue if one-time money had not been used to compensate for the economic downturn of state revenues. I also want to give credit to Governor Huntsman for his leadership in working with the state legislature. The governor allocated one-time federal funds of $298 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to soften the impact of the state revenue declines for FY 2009 and FY 2010.
Legislative Budget Reductions for the current 2008-2009 School Year (Senate Bill #4)
Due to declining revenues, the legislature was forced to reduce the state FY 2008-09 Minimum School Program budget. Granite’s share of this reduction is approximately $6.3 million. The law allowed these cuts to be taken from 2007-08 carryover funds from restricted categorical budget accounts. Unfortunately, we do not have this provision in the law for the new FY 2009-10 school budget.
Legislative Budget Reductions for the new 2009-10 School Year (House Bill #2)
By using one-time money as a backfill, and by shifting a greater portion of budget cuts to other state agencies, the legislature was able to reduce the full impact of declining state revenues to the FY 2009-10 Minimum School Program Budget. For 2009-10, the legislature made reductions of nearly $22 million for the Granite District budget. Some of these cuts were specifically identified by the legislature. These included the elimination of the Quality Teaching Block (which paid for 5 ½ days for teacher professional development, student achievement projects, instructional specialists, and mentors) and the Local Discretionary Block (which paid for school technology specialists) and a reduction of funding in the Student Success Block. The legislature also specified that an additional $7.5 million in budget cuts be determined by the local board of education. In addition to these cuts, there was no increase by the legislature in the value of the WPU. With a zero percent increase in the WPU we have no additional funding to meet the normal annual increases in such costs as health insurance and salary steps and lanes. As you can tell, this will be a very difficult budget year.
Given the magnitude of the budget reductions for the 2009-10 school year, it is essential that we have broad discussions and input from everyone. I have asked school principals and department heads to foster such discussions. I am interested in your thoughts and have established several avenues to receive your input. This new blog will be regularly updated with information specific to employees. You can email me here firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com. Recommendations to the board of education are also welcome.
Dr. Stephen F. Ronnenkamp