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Fall schedule to stay same, Alpine School board may get raises

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The Alpine School District’s new elementary school schedule will still go into effect this fall, and the board’s governing body may give itself a raise, according to a June 15 board discussion.

The Alpine School District voted last month to eliminate its “early bird” and “later gator” staggered start times in elementary schools, along with implementing a secondary school schedule that includes early-out Wednesdays. The decision came along with more than an hour of discussion about providing more professional development time for teachers to train on the new LETRS literacy plan, along with questions about how buses would operate with the latest schedule.

The elementary school schedule passed with a narrow 4-3 split from the typically unanimous board.

Kimberly Bird, the district’s new executive director of internal relations and operations, told the board that ASD knew it would cause some challenges, not only with transportation but with families that have gotten used to the old schedules’ routines.

“Since this schedule was published for all of our parents and also our teachers, we have had some issues surface,” Bird said.

Those issues, she said, have been in schools with larger student bodies. Four schools — including one in Lehi — have had problems arise. 

The schools, and those specific problems, were not disclosed during the meeting. 

Bird said one school has a narrow road leading to it, which can cause traffic problems, but that the issues were rare compared to the entire district. 

She said that schools have been looking to find ways to solve the problems. For example, one has added activities, contestants, math opportunities and more options for traffic flows. 

While one parent emailed Bird stating they didn’t like the new plan, Bird said the parent said that they’d already adjusted their plans and didn’t want to “hear in August that the plan has changed again.”

Bird said that the board could vote to make changes if principals ask for them.

“The principal is going to work with their team and their community to problem-solve, first,” she said. 

If more problems come up in July, then the district might survey those schools’ communities.

“We are going to keep working with them, but our recommendation is to maintain what has been published,” Bird told the board.

Part of the existing adjustment plan includes working on plans to recruit more bus drivers.

“We need help,” Bird said.

During the meeting, the board also discussed the possibility of voting next month to raise the compensation package for its members. Currently, board members make about $500 a month. 

The new proposal would raise stipends to about $750 a month, with a cap at about $12,000 a year.

Rob Smith, the district’s business administrator, told the board that the district studied increasing board salary in both 2007 and 2017, but board members decided not to vote for a pay increase either time.

“We studied it in 2021, and I would recommend the board take action at a future point,” he said.

Smith said that the responsibilities for board members have increased “exponentially” since then, and they perform a lot of work the public never sees.

“Our board members care about your kids, about their kids, and they attend meeting after meeting,” he said. “They spend hours looking through spreadsheets.”

Smith said the district would use existing money in the board’s budget (like travel mileage and supplies) to cover the increase. The potential change would not take money away from budgets for school improvements, classroom size or teacher salaries.

Smith also proposed increasing the salaries for the board president and vice president, who attend additional meetings. Smith said a plan could include expanding the number of meetings that leadership is paid for from 12 to 18, with pay ranging from $120 for a meeting lasting less than four hours and up to $180.

Overall, board members’ pay may be increased from $9,000 a year to about $12,000.

Board members noted that an increase could make it possible for income-disadvantaged individuals to run for a seat.

“This is not about us,” said Sarah Beeson, a member of the board. “It is about what could happen in the future.

Amber Bonner, a board member, said that her role on the board becomes a full-time job during May. A raise, she said, is a step in the right direction to encouraging a more diverse group of people to run.

“I think the current compensation package doesn’t allow that,’ she said. 

Smith said the board last raised its pay about 15 years ago. That move, he said, was a “small change.”

Julie King, a board member, said that the workload is heavier than any of them thought it would be before they ran. Board members also serve on committees and dedicate more time to the positions during state legislative sessions.

“It is not one meeting a month,” she said. 

King voiced opposition to paying the board presidency more than the rest of the board and pointed out that some members represent twice as many schools as others. However, she mentioned, boundaries may be redistricted in the next few months, shifting that representation.

Overall, the board voiced support for the plan, citing a need for a more diverse candidate pool.

“I don’t think this solves a problem,” Stacy Bateman, a member of the board, said. “I think it gets us closer, and it’s awkward to say it out loud, but we can make it better after us.”

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