Superintendent's Newsletter - February 10, 2022
Dear Salt Lake City School District families and community,
The blue skies and sunshine have been so beautiful lately. I am hopeful the winter storms are winding down, and in the same manner, I hope we have weathered the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and its strain on our students, families, staff, and employees. We're not out of the woods yet; hence, we continue to recommend wearing masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19, we continue to thoroughly clean and sanitize our buildings, and we continue to be generally cautious.
I am grateful for your support and patience when we made the tough decision to switch to remote learning for a few days last month. Thank you for understanding and helping our children stay engaged during the remote learning days. By making this temporary switch, we strongly curbed the spread of COVID-19 that was adversely impacting student and staff attendance in our schools. I was amazed as I watched our students, families, and employees pivot when needed and continue to persevere. Through it all, I have seen students learning, teachers teaching, district employees supporting students and their colleagues, and our families stepping up to help in so many ways. Thank you for your extraordinary efforts.
We are all in this together! I have repeatedly seen that there is nothing we can't accomplish when we work together. I want to ensure our schools stay open for in-person learning and that our students and staff remain safe. Let's keep the momentum going. My goal is to make Salt Lake City School District a leader in the services and programs we provide for our students. We strive to make Salt Lake City School District a world-class school district, and with your help and support, I am sure we can make it happen.
Yours in education,
Timothy Gadson, III, Ph. D.
Salt Lake City School District
During last week’s Board of Education meeting, we had a meaningful discussion about our district’s declining student enrollment. Based on the enrollment projected for the next school year, we would need to reduce our staffing by 76 teacher positions to right-size the district. Our Executive Director of Human Resource Services proposed reducing our staffing by 42 positions for the 2022 – 2023 school year and making additional reductions in the next year or two. I want to explain what this means for you and your child(ren).
The short answer is it means it is time to assess how we’re allocating our resources, including staffing, across all district schools. This decline in enrollment has been projected for years, and we need to continue to provide the best educational opportunities for every student. We believe we can address this priority while also ensuring we don’t impact our schools too much with the adjusted reduction in teaching positions.
Fortunately, we are in a good position, and we do not anticipate needing to lay off any of our educators. We already have 20 teachers who have notified us that they plan to retire, and we anticipate hearing from others. We will likely also see typical turnover, as we have in other years, with teachers moving to other states or accepting positions in other districts. We value our educators and the crucial work they do in our schools. Our staff turnover in recent years leads us to believe we will be able to adjust our staffing by the 42 positions mentioned above without any job loss.
A decline in student enrollment also means we need to examine our school boundaries and enrollment at each school. This conversation may require us to explore some school boundary changes or possibly school closures. It may also mean that things will stay as they currently are. I’m committed to making sure that whatever decisions are made, our process is transparent, and the recommendations I make to the board are based on data and take into account what is best for our students, families, and our schools. I plan to share my recommendations with the Board of Education in March, and we will keep you informed every step of the way.
Your support and understanding during this critical time are greatly appreciated.
This coming Tuesday, February 15, is our third asynchronous learning day for the current school year. On this day, all K-12 students in the district will learn at home. Teachers will provide learning tasks and materials to students in advance. Many of these tasks will not be computer-based and will support students' learning in the classroom.
This year's Asynchronous Learning Days originated from a new requirement from the Utah State Board of Education for our K-3 teachers to participate in professional development that wasn't already scheduled into our school calendar. On these asynchronous learning days, all school kitchens will provide a FREE Grab-and-Go combination breakfast and lunch meal to any child age 0 to 18. These meals will be available between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. More information is available on our website.
Early Open Enrollment and School Choice
The Early Open Enrollment period will end on Friday, February 18. Please submit an online application by the deadline if you wish to enroll your child(ren) in a school outside your neighborhood boundary for the 2022-23 school year.
Our schools offer a wide array of programs and services to meet the needs of every child. To browse the many learning options and programs available in our district, please review the School Choice section of our website. Look for links such as How to Apply, Learning Options in our Schools, Frequently Asked Questions about School Choice, and more.
Heidi Boogert, a 3rd-grade teacher at Highland Park Elementary, and Jennifer Carver-Hunter, a 5th-grade teacher at Mountain View Elementary, were named as recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the nation's highest honor for teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The award recognizes those teachers who have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to succeed in those areas. Congratulations to these two outstanding teachers!
School Fees Public Hearings
The Salt Lake City School District Board of Education will hold two public hearings in March regarding school fees for the 2022-23 school year. The public hearings will be on Tuesday, March 1, and Tuesday, March 15, in conjunction with our regularly scheduled board meetings.
Meeting agendas will be posted on the district website. The agendas are typically posted the Friday before each meeting on the Board Meeting webpage. Once on that page, scroll down until you find the correct dates and then click on the "Board of Education Meeting" link. A link to the meeting agenda will then appear in the pop-up window.
The Salt Lake City School District and the Salt Lake Education Foundation, in partnership with Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEEA), offer several scholarships to allow students a chance to pursue their dreams after high school. These scholarship opportunities are listed on the Complete Scholarships website. This free resource assists all of our students by matching them with scholarships for which they are most eligible.
If you or your student have questions or want more information, please contact your student's counselor.
Summer Efficiency Schedule
We know it's not summer yet, but we want to provide some information about our upcoming Summer Efficiency Schedule. Each summer, when schools are not in session, our district offices, schools, and facilities close one day each week.
This 4-day work week schedule saves us several thousand dollars each year by reducing utility costs. The days we will be closed this year are
- Friday, June 10,
- Friday, June 17,
- Friday, June 24,
- Friday, July 1,
- Friday, July 15,
- Friday, July 22, and
- Friday, August 5.
The only exceptions to the 4-day work week are the Child Nutrition Department to support the Nation Summer School Lunch Program, Horizonte Instructional and Training Center, and essential construction projects.
When it comes to planning for summer, you will also want to write down the dates for summer school, which are June 13 through July 14. It will be a 5-week program that will run Monday through Thursday each week. More information on times and locations will be coming soon.
USBE Parent Survey
Due to the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and reduced student participation on state assessments in 2021, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) is preparing to submit an addendum request to the U.S. Department of Education for certain requirements related to federal school accountability. USBE encourages you to review the draft addendum and submit comments using the link below. The survey will close on February 22nd, 2022.