Some Controversy and Concern at Emery School Board Meeting

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By Julie Johansen

An auditing firm presented their report to the Emery School Board of Education as the monthly meeting began on Wednesday evening at Canyon View Middle School (CVMS). The report commended the financial department and the secretaries of the various schools.

Emery School District Secondary Supervisor Yvonne Jensen and Elementary Supervisor J.R. Jones then presented the board with a teacher licensing update. They prefaced their report with the statement that everything is subject to change in the 2020-21 school year as it changes yearly. They reported the different levels for a typical and non-typical license. The addition of endorsements in the subject areas for teachers adds a new dimension.

Board member Royd Hatt questioned if there are any exceptions for rural areas that have a hard time finding teachers that are licensed and endorsed. Jensen reported that there are letters of authorization but only three allowed throughout the career of the educator.

Jensen reported Castle Dale and Ferron elementary schools are in 100 percent compliance with teachers’ licenses. Huntington is 93 percent, Cottonwood is 80 percent, Cleveland is 90 percent and Book Cliff is at 33 percent. Jensen then gave the secondary report showing that Emery High has 76 percent compliance, Green River has 11 percent, CVMS has 60 percent and San Rafael Middle School has 93 percent.

District-wide, there are 23 out of 72 employees not qualified with an overall percentage of 68. Many of these educators are working on these licenses and endorsements. Superintendent Larry Davis reported that many of these teachers have been asked to teach in these areas as the need arises. Teacher shortage and the salary war has created many of these situations, Davis said.

Cottonwood Principal Hughes requested an amendment to the use of their School Land Trust funds to cover the cost of three teachers at the recent PLC conference in Salt Lake City. This was approved unanimously by the board.

Although not at the meeting, Supt. Davis reported that Emery High automotive instructor Chandler Peacock had requested permission to take six students to Farmington, New Mexico for competition. This has been done in previous years and was granted by the board.

A representative from Hunter Solar thanked the board for their acceptance to be part of the interlocal agreement and their investment in the community.

After much discussion about the addition of new bus stop on Canyon Road in Ferron, the absence of two board members led to the motion to be tabled until the next board meeting. This request had been made at October’s meeting by parents that live in that area.

The district’s bus superintendent gave several reasons why the board should not grant this request. Some reasons included setting precedence for many other requests, not enough room on the buses, changes of schedules required, along with increased cost to the district. McKenzi Guymon, Ferron representative on the board, felt that for the safety of the nine students involved in the area, it was necessary to add the stop as well as continue stops along South State Street in Ferron. She came to this conclusion after having viewed the area during bus time several times and speaking to the crews that work up the canyon, the Millsite Golf Course personnel and people living in that area.

Supt. Davis’ recommendation for new office hours at the district office were approved with a vote of two affirmative and one abstention. The school board meeting calendar for the year 2020 was also approved during the meeting.

CVMS Principal Jeff Winget welcomed the board to the school and requested that school counselor Lance Whitesel present his report. He reported that teachers and staff are working on mental health issues, individual education plans and stressing the importance of education. Principal Winget then added that they are finding that kindness goes a long way. He gave an update on the school’s accomplishments during the year, including football and volleyball championships. Winget also explained the school has a new wrestling coach.

Canyon View’s incentives, Cougar Pride, Top Cat and Celebrating Good Attendance, are finding success in the school. Winget shared that students had just finished participating in Red Ribbon Week and were in the middle of Safety Week. He praised the faculty and staff of the school for their work so far this school year.

Supt. Davis then gave short comments about a legislative luncheon on Nov. 12. Area representatives will be present to hear requests and concerns about upcoming legislation next year. Emery School Board President Tracey Johnson, Supt. Davis and Business Administrator Jared Black have been invited to attend.

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