Provo school board, City Council discuss teacher housing, student safety | News, Sports, Jobs | #schoolsaftey

Courtesy Hannah Rigby, Provo City

Members of the Provo City Council and Provo City School District Board of Education hold a joint meeting Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023.

The Provo City Council and the Provo City School District Board of Education held a joint meeting Tuesday to discuss topics of interest to both parties and the general public.

New Superintendent Wendy Dau kicked off the discussion by introducing some the district’s major objectives.

“We’re off to a great start,” Dau said. She noted that her major objective is to bring all teachers in alignment within the district and to build unity.

All teachers have been asked to read “Boys in the Boat.” The narrative follows the University of Washington rowing team’s bid for gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin amid the Great Depression and Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, with a message about the importance of teamwork.

The district is also putting together a strategic plan with a steering committee of more than 30 leaders, teachers, students, stakeholders and residents, according to Dau.

Courtesy Hannah Rigby, Provo City

Members of the Provo City Council and Provo City School District Board of Education hold a joint meeting Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023.

“They will meet once a month for three hours and help develop the district’s vision, mission and goals,” she said. “There will also be two focus groups with the community.”

The plan should be completed by April 16, Dau added. “It will be our guide for all decision making. It will be our North Star.”

There has been a hiring freeze put in place at the district offices so more money can go out to schools, according to Dau. “We are recruiting the most talented teachers for the most at-risk schools,” she said. “There are a lot of new teachers and we are also building a retention program.”

Dau said the district is pulling from Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University in an intern partnership at the schools.

The city council’s ears perked up at mention of the district’s intention to develop a day care program for children of employees. “We are talking about the accommodations right now,” Dau said.

“I am excited about a day care service,” said council member Rachel Whipple. She noted that Park City set aside $1 million for city employees to have a day care.

After attending a recent conference, school board member Teri McCabe said she learned how other school districts are operating day care programs.

When it comes district building projects, Derek Anderson, the district’s business administrator, noted that construction on Timpview High School is behind schedule and has had to make a few changes. “I believe we’ll be there at the beginning of the calendar year.”

Wasatch Elementary, which is being rebuilt in another location, is also having concrete delays and some of the design concepts had to be redone, Anderson said. The school is expected to open in December 2024.

“Shoreline Middle School is extremely smooth and ahead of schedule,” Anderson said. “It should be open at the start of the next school year.”

Sarah Van Cleve, executive director of Provo Housing, introduced a housing option that would help lower-paid school teachers purchase a home. She noted that one-third of the cost of building a home is the price of land. If land was donated, she said, homes would be affordable for teachers. It was noted that Mayor Michelle Kaufusi is currently looking at that possibility for police and fire personnel.

Van Cleve said the biggest problem with this plan is that there are loopholes for developers to get market value for these kinds of homes, but she noted the state is looking at closing them. By doing so, she said, the homes can be kept affordable for years.

“It’s a huge benefit to keeping people in their jobs,” Van Cleve said.

The joint meeting also discussed the safety in children getting to and from schools, particularly with all of the motorized bikes, scooters and other apparatuses being used.

Anderson noted the district is looking at drafting a policy for use of these types of transportation modes on school properties.

Council member Rachel Whipple told the district the city had updated its policies to help the district implement those safety procedures at the schools.

Both entities hoped that safe transportation routes would be designated, like the biking routes to schools.

“200 East is (Brigham Young University’s) answer with bulb outs slowing traffic,” said council member George Handley. “We need to envision different alternatives to slow traffic.”

The district is also concerned about the lack of sidewalks in the areas students must use to get to school at Shoreline.

Dau noted they will be addressing the potential of adding busing to get kids safely across train tracks and Center Street to get to and from school.

Of particular concern are the areas around 1100 West and 1600 West and 560 South to 600 South that have no sidewalks.

The City Council and Board of Education meet periodically to keep informed on issues affecting the city and both entities. The next meeting is scheduled for next year.


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