At the February 11, 2010, meeting of the Kane County School Board of Education, Superintendent Robert Johnson reported on two pending grant opportunities which could greatly help alleviate the effects of current budget cuts on the school district.

The first is the “Race to the Top,” the Obama administration’s national competition which will support and replicate education reform and innovation in classrooms. The State of Utah has submitted a grant application with its plan for using data and benchmarks for reform; states that outperform the rest will be rewarded with a grant. The winning states will be announced April 1, 2010. If Utah is selected, the Kane District will receive $250,000 each of the next four years, with the opportunity to compete for additional funds from the state.

The second opportunity involves a coalition of rural school districts seeking funding for a new school evaluation program provided by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a nonprofit association that partners with schools, providing a formative testing system that responds dynamically to the child, giving educators detailed insight into kids’ learning, with data. The grant funding will cover student testing, professional development, and performance evaluation for staff; and fits well with efforts already underway in school districts and with the Race to the Top planning. The rural districts, including Kane, will know by September 1, 2010, if they will receive this funding.

Johnson briefly reported on current legislative issues, including the condition of the state retirement system, which has lost $6 billion, and will likely result in a retirement benefit cut for future state employees. He also explained a proposal from the State Senate Appropriations Committee, which would require small school districts that share regional service centers, such as the Southwest Educational Development Center (SEDC- which services Kane, Beaver, Millard, Iron, Garfield, and Washington school districts) to now provide the funding for such centers.

Large school districts have their own support services and do not require service centers. It will be impossible for the six districts to fund the center, which provides technical, reading, Title One and special education assistance to the districts, and on which they are totally dependent for data management. These concerns were expressed to State Representative Mike Noel and others, Johnson said.

In other district news, Johnson announced both Valley High School and Kanab High School have again become duly accredited, in an evaluation that takes place every four years; and KHS Senior Aaron Downward has been invited to be a candidate for the United States Presidential Scholars Program, based on his exceptional score on the ACT. Downward, with the support of KHS and the Kane District, is invited to submit an application by February 25, 2010, to be eligible for selection as one of the 500 semifinalists (out of 3,000). Scholars in this highly prestigious program culminate in a White House ceremony during a recognition week in Washington, D.C. Congratulations Aaron and good luck!

The school board heard Utah State Board of Education convention reports and recognized Employees of the Month from Valley Elementary School – Verla Troy and Wendy Harris.

The board presented diplomas to adult graduates Jessica Spenser and Jamie Smith. Congratulations Jessica and Jamie!

In other business, the auditors raised several issues during the 2009 district audit, which generated several new policies regarding the handling of money. The board approved Policy GF, required by the state, concerning fundraising by schools; policy CAD concerning the budgeting of monies by the schools; and a new policy for the giving of cash awards in the district.

District Transportation and Maintenance Director Lyle Heyborne presented the school board with the annual list of requested capital projects at each of the district’s seven schools and the district office. The board will consider the requests for final approval at the March school board meeting.