Ed Meyer and Joshua Baird, of the Kanab Arts Council, presented an exciting proposal at the May 12, 2011, meeting of the Kane County Board of Education.

The proposal concerns the use of the old Kanab High School site-school district property near the Kanab City Museum. Meyer explained that as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project in the 1930’s, the hillside between the Kanab City Museum and the skateboard park was terraced for use as a Greek style, outdoor performing arts area.

The space was used by the Woman’s Literary Guild in the early days. In the 1970’s, the Red Cliff Repertory Theatre used the space for musical shows such as “Oklahoma,” “Mame,” and “The Star-Spangled Girl.” In the 1980’s, the space was used for performances by the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

He further stated that, given the fact the old gazebo downtown is slated to be torn down as the new stake center there is built, the council seeks to slowly restore this old performing arts space to use as a new venue for performing arts in the downtown area. The council is asking the school district for permission to use the property by using the sidewalk and lawn area in front of the museum for the Wednesday evening summer performances this year, to begin with.

The council proposes restoring the bottom of the terraced hillside for performances by getting rid of the weeds, filling in the foundation area of the old seminary building there, pouring a pad for performances, building a temporary or permanent stage, and eventually restoring the terraces all the way to the top of the hill. This would be done by volunteers, at no cost to the school district and would be suitable for the schools to use as well.

Josh Baird explained that the first year, the space would be used for the summer community concerts that used to take place at the gazebo, on a temporary stage. He noted that the acoustics in the space are great and well-suited to this purpose.

He also noted that the adjacent Juniper Arts Gallery and Kanab Heritage Museum would be interested in opening for a while before the performances to attract more attendees to their exhibits, etc. Others on hand who voiced support for the proposal were Lillian Gurr, Vicky Hooper, Linda Alderman and Tracy Hiscock.

The written proposal states that the project “provides a unique opportunity for Kanab’s citizens to work together on a project that is important to the community’s heritage while providing an important venue for performing arts in the downtown area.”

It also states that the project will increase the value of the school district property and possibly create a revenue-generating opportunity for the school district. While liability and maintenance issues will be explored further, Superintendent Robert Johnson and school board members were receptive to the proposal and decided to pursue an agreement pertaining to it.

The board received a literacy progress report submitted by Superintendent Johnson on behalf of District Reading Specialist Nancy Roundy.

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) scores showed marked improvement over the past year, in the reading skills, particularly of third graders, in the district.

The percentage of third graders who achieved the benchmark of reading at or above grade level, increased from 71% in 2010 to 80% in 2011, all of the increase came from at risk ( those who read well below grade level) third graders, the number of whom decreased from 14% in 2010 to 5% in 2011.

This is a significant improvement, in particular because research proves that children reading below grade level by third grade have a much lower chance for academic success throughout their remaining years of school.

That is why the district has focused intensely on improving reading skills in the K-3 grades over the past five to seven years. The focus is clearly paying off.

In the sixth grade, the DIBELS scores showed an improvement as well – the percentage of sixth graders who achieved the benchmark of reading at or above grade level increased from 76% in 2010 to 80% in 2011.

Superintendent Johnson praised the efforts of Roundy, who has been responsible for instituting programs and teacher training that has directly resulted in these improvements in student proficiency, describing her as “one of the premier reading specialists in the state.”

The school board approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Southwest Educational Development Center, which assists the district with technology and training, among other things. The MOU is mandated by new state legislation that specifically recognizes the state’s regional service centers in such legislation, ensuring that they will receive annual funding.

The board also approved an agreement with the Washington County School District, who has a contract with a state-approved online course provider that gives students the opportunity to take most of their courses online. This action was authorized by the passage of State Bill 65 by the legislature in this past session.

In other business, the board approved changes to the 2011-2012 district and individual school calendars; the athletic schedule for the Kanab High School boys basketball team; and the athletic schedules for the Valley High School baseball, girls and boys basketball, volleyball and cross-country teams.

The board also approved the hiring of Travis Terry as the District Technology and Testing Director, Coreen Rankin as a third-fifth grade teacher at Big Water School, Suzanne Condit as the KHS Secretary, Danny Little as the KHS Vocational teacher, and Joseph Sorenson as the VHS Social Studies teacher.