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Superintendent’s Corner

Contact Information:
Mr. Tracy Davis, Superintendent
Garfield School District
145 East Center
Panguitch, UT 84759

Email: tracy.davis@garfk12.org

Phone: 435-676-8821
Fax: 435-676-8266

Why 180 Days?

Based totally on the agrarian need for farm labor, the school year was purposely set to not interfere with the cycle of crop growth and harvest. Family plots needed to be worked and the demand for labor got more immense during the growing season; family members were the logical choice. Schools were closed for the summer and the child workforce stayed at home for the summer months. But the family plots have been replaced by a mechanized workforce. Besides the family garden, most children have all but been forgotten from the family farm. In addition, some teachers also double as small farmers. They are anxious for summer vacation, so they can work their plots and not work in the local…
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HB513 (2012) Early Literacy Intervention

In 2012, the Utah State Legislature passed HB513 creating a program to help at-risk students with literacy intervention, growth, and achievement in student grades K-3. The program was designed to be technology based and centered on the adaptive learning process. As a result, millions of dollars were allocated to schools to purchase adaptive literacy software for their intervention programs. With the goal of the HB513 to raise student literacy performance, several vendors were allowed to provide this software to adapt technology to bridge the gap in student literacy performance. Not to be confused with the pre-K money listed as “Waterford,” this allocation is directed to the K-2 population and allowed us to choose more than one vendor if needed to…
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Utah Law 53A-1a-1001 – UPSTART

Utah Preparing Students Today for a Rewarding Tomorrow (UPSTART) is a pilot project established by the Utah State Legislature that uses a home-based education technology approach to develop the school readiness skills of preschool children. The program concentrates on preschool students prior to their Kindergarten experience. The program is an in-home, technology delivered kindergarten readiness program that is designed to give Utah four-year-olds an individualized reading, mathematics, and science curriculum with a focus on reading. Children participate in the program the year before they attend kindergarten. All Utah children are eligible to participate but the program but legislation wants to make sure low income families and non-native English speaking families have priority. In its 7th year, the implementation contractor, Waterford…
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Sterling Scholar Winners

Congratulations to our Sterling Scholar winners from Thursday night’s competition. The Regional competition was held on the Southern Utah University campus in Cedar City. The event provided a unique experience for several of our Garfield County youth and in the end we did a great job with two runners-up and a winner. Danielle Brinkerhoff opened the ceremony with a piano musical selection of Dancing on the Berlin Wall. Klace Lyman took first place in Agricultural Science. Runners-up included Lyndsie Perkins in Agricultural Science and Elaina LeFevre in Business and Marketing. What a great achievement for our students and a great showing for Garfield County. My congratulations to each of them and their schools. With spring break on our door step,…
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HB286 Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

During the general legislative session of 2014, HB286 Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, was sponsored by Rep. Romero and Sen. Adams.  The goal was to make training and information on child sexual abuse available to all school employees, elementary parents, and students in an effort to provide school employees, parents, and students a means of recognizing warning signs of a child who is being sexually abused and effective, age-appropriate methods for discussing the topic of child sexual abuse with a child. HB286 language also says a school district may provide instruction on child sexual abuse prevention and awareness to elementary school students using age-appropriate curriculum.  With the key word being “may,” Garfield County School District has chosen not to provide this…
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Don’t Opt Out

Year-end testing begins in a few weeks. I would like to take a moment to discuss why we need several of you to reconsider and not opt your children out of testing for the sake of your student and everyone else’s. Utah has participated in year-end testing for generations. I remember as a child doing the same type testing, always wondering why the results were never available for 6 months. Times have changed and test results are immediately available, so instant feedback is given to both the student and the teacher. Over the past several years, I am sure you have all heard the hype of subversive content in the exams that secretly alter your child’s thoughts. The truth is,…
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Spring is in the Air

Wow, basketball is over with our district schools capturing both the boy and girl state titles. The boys at Panguitch followed suit with the Bryce Valley girls to represent our district well. Congratulations to them. We are also honored to have one of our teachers represent the district and state in a special circumstance as she prepares to participate in the PolarTREC experience this summer. Rebecca Harris from Escalante High School was selected to be part of the team to travel north to the Arctic Circle to study hydrology and sediment transport in Arctic glacial lake systems. I was at EHS last week where her students were subject to presentations from PolarTREC researchers from NAU (Northern Arizona University). Students were…
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More on Community Councils

When we discussed Amendment B several weeks ago, I made mention of the School Community Council. There are several alias names such as the Trustlands Committee but the function remains the same. Each year, proceeds from the State Trustlands system allocate proceeds from the state land trust profits to spend on Utah’s students. This allocation has been setup to purposely bypass the school funding mechanism and go directly to the people to be spent as they perceive on the immediate local school student needs. The local school board is perceived as the populous representative of the local school system but there is an additional elected group to deal specifically with this perpetual fund. Each year parents are asked to participate…
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What Happened to all those School Trust Sections?

Surely you must have asked yourself, “What happened to all those school sections that were in the middle of a National Monument or Park?" The good news is that there is an answer. When Utah came to the union, we agreed to not tax federal lands and the feds gave us school trust sections to help the educational process. The United States is divided into 36 square mile (sections) blocks called “townships.” These townships represented a 6X6 mile square piece of continuous ground. Of the 36 interior sections, some states were give one school section, others called “arid” states were given two sections while others including Utah were called “really arid” and so they were given four sections of every…
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Hey, Did You Hear?

Congratulations to the Bryce Valley Girls on their basketball win and being crowned the 1A State Champs. These events will be remembered for life as will other events from our student’s education years. I thought for a moment about some of the events and accomplishments that have occurred this year in our schools and several come to mind. When I was reviewing some of our accomplishments, I was reminded of the excellent scores attained by Mr. Clint Barney’s math classes at PMS for the past SAGE testing window. Mr. Barney had the highest math scores in the state for the middle school category. Congratulations to Mr. Barney and his students. BVHS Math and PMS Language Arts scores as a whole…
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Survey Time

Many of you with children in the school system have recently received an email or paper notice asking that you participate in a survey, where the questions are specifically directed towards you as a parent and your dealings with the school system. This has been provided to you in other years and its purpose is to allow all stakeholders an option to comment on the current standing of our schools. Last July, the school board discussed findings from last year’s survey and what we could do to alleviate some of the negative findings and celebrate the positive aspects of our schools operation. The survey was put together for the region by the Utah Education Policy Center at the University of…
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In Loco Parentis

Wow, what a snow storm in Bryce Valley! Last week did Tropic ever get the snow. The custodians and maintenance staff were busy all over the district clearing snow only to have it hit again. During Monday, power was lost at several of the schools with disruptions in instruction, pickup and delivery, and school lunch services. In the process, some parents were irritated that we even had school at all. In Utah, we are governed by a compulsory education law that mandates that all our students go to school for 180 days a year and are subject to at least 990 hours of organized classroom instruction put in school law or rule. As a result, our expectation is to provide…
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Constitutional Amendment B Passed

What is it? For beginners, it is great news for local schools. Proposed back in 2012, the idea was a way to give more funds to local schools from the State School Land Trust. When Utah became a state, the Utah Enabling Act provided funds for the common schools. It said, “That upon the admission of said State into the Union, sections numbered two, sixteen, thirty-two, and thirty-six in every township of said proposed state are hereby granted to said State for the support of common schools” and “That the proceeds of lands herein granted for educational purposes, except as hereinafter otherwise provided, shall constitute a permanent school fund, the interest of which only shall be expended for the support…
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What Does a New School Cost

With at least two new schools to be built in the next couple of years, you must be wondering how much a new school costs. In our case, we have all properties already acquired so there is a saving before we begin. It was estimated in 2014 that the average cost for an elementary school was in the range of $200-$250 per square foot. It high dollar areas, the costs could go into the $300s. For planning purposes, we will use an average of $250 per sq ft for both Panguitch and Bryce Valley. To replace the current square footage of Bryce Valley Elementary School with a school of equal size, 34,600 sq ft would cost close to 9 million…
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What Do We Need to Accomplish this New Year?

What do we need to accomplish this New Year? What a great time of year! The holidays are past and the 1st semester is coming to a close. Parents, please remind your children there are just a few weeks left to complete makeup work and solidify their 2nd quarter grades. Our teachers return to begin remediation and skills building, as we prepare students for the end-of-year exams that determine how our schools will compare with other schools of similar size and demographics. One of my sons is very similar to me in his analysis of business opportunities in Garfield County. The thing we agree on the most is that Garfield County is a giant gold nugget that has not yet…
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Escalante Elementary Replacement

After the engineering review, Escalante Elementary School emerged as a great school when looking for the safety of our children.  It is the oldest of the original elementary campuses we have, constructed in 1954.  Numerous remodel/reconstruction projects have given an extended period of life not available for our other two elementary campus locations.  A complete remodel of Escalante Elementary would only cost about a third of the cost of replacement whereas the other two would not be cost effective to renovate. When the time arises for a new school, besides the property located on the existing school campus, the high school campus may have extra acreage not being used that could easily fit a new elementary campus.  Aesthetically speaking, the…
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Panguitch Elementary School

The district is looking at the possibility of building both the Bryce Valley Elementary School and Panguitch Elementary School simultaneously.  If enough can be saved by building both schools in a combined contract, there may be enough funding to complete both buildings together. We are at the mercy of the market.  Depending on the building industry, we may be able to save with a combined bid.  This is based on the construction utilizing the combined purchase of materials, design fees, work crew placement, shared architect, engineering, and professional fees.  In the event that enough savings can be obtained, the district will pursue a combined project. PES has the largest student population in the district with 281 students.  This is over…
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Bryce Valley Elementary School Will be the First

If you have listened throughout the county, you surely have heard the rumble over building a single high school, or maybe three elementary schools, or for that matter any number of combinations.  My intent today is to try and give Garfield County taxpayers an update into the direction the board has chosen to go in the immediate future. Currently, the board is not interested in pursuing a combined high school.  There are numerous reasons for but an equal number to not support that movement.  After reaching that conclusion, it was easy to determine that the target should be directed at the school with the most student risk.  In this case, Bryce Valley Elementary School poses the greatest threat to students…
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History of Thanksgiving

What a great time of year Thanksgiving has turned out to be.  The weather is usually not too bad, the ground is not too frozen, access to the mountains in not too limited but it is definitely the wake up that winter is coming.  It is also a time of year that gives our families and friends an opportunity to “have” to get together to enjoy what we have available all year.  I am grateful for a holiday that reminds me to acknowledge what I have, what I am thankful for, and the things that mean the most to me. The history of the Thanksgiving holiday goes back to the year 1621 when the colonists of Plymouth and the local…
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Which New Building is First?

Congratulations to Mr. Frank Houston on his recent election to the school board and my thanks to Mrs. Melaney Draper for her past years of dedicated service to the board.  I taught Melaney in high school and she is a great person with a giving heart. Early last spring, Mr. Ben Dalton shared some information in school board meeting concerning the building of three new schools.  Additionally, news was circulated at the time of the last public hearing concerning a voted board tax levy centering on building new elementary schools.  With our elections complete, it is time we make available to the public what has transpired since last spring and bring everyone up to date of our new building status.…
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Partison vs. Non-Partisan

Someone asked for the purpose of a non-partisan election.  The term non-partisan basically means the lack of a political affiliation.  With that said, our most notable non-partisan election is our school board election, where we expect our candidates to be running for the sake of the students and not a political party’s interest.  Additionally, we usually vote for support of judges and some positions in local and county elections using a non-partisan format. On the other hand, partisan elections are built on battle lines with parties clashing for specific causes or outcomes.  Most people share a commonality for supporting a platform or list of shared ideologies.  For the past year, the partisan race for the presidency of the United States…
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District Enrollment

While researching data for a meeting the other day, I came across some disturbing facts concerning the enrollment of school aged children in Garfield County.  While much of the country is experiencing growth in their schools, our dwindling rate is approaching historic lows.  As a result, state funding is on the decrease. The enrollment number for the year 2001 was recorded for the district at 1049 students in the various district schools.  Fifteen years later, 2016 figures show a total of 904 students or a net decrease of about 150 students.  This decrease alone is worth about a half a million dollars in decreased funding towards the cost of educating our youth.  If you take a look at the individual…
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Intervention Specialist

New for this year, the district has created the formal position of Intervention Specialist.  Mrs. Kim Quarnberg has accepted the full-time position where she splits her time between Panguitch, Bryce Valley, and Escalante High Schools. In the past year, Mrs. Quarnberg worked part-time helping students with grade recovery and working to get them credits towards graduation.  This year, the program added the component to help students not fail any classes.  Our goal with Mrs. Quarnberg is to increase the student graduation rate, help students remain in school, and make good on our expectation of “Empowering and Motivating Lifelong Learners.” Mrs. Quarnberg is available to meet with students, teachers, and parents in any combination.  Her job is to work towards the…
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Principals Week

Thank You Principals Garfield County School District is fortunate to have an excellent group of building principals that manage our schools, students, and teachers.  Some represent our historical knowledge of the system, some bring in understanding they have learned from other areas and experiences, while some represent what the interests and commonality of being from Garfield County is all about. Governor Gary R. Herbert has signed a declaration, declaring October 17-21, 2016, as “Principals Week” in Utah.  Please take time this week to mention to your child’s principal how much their contribution to your children’s education is appreciated. I would like to thank each of them for the contribution they make to our children and building staff.  Their hours are…
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School Attendance

After completing the first full month of school, I thought a discussion concerning school attendance would be an excellent topic.   Nationally, September is considered National School Attendance Month and schools and districts spend time to alert students and the public that student attendance in public education is a great program for our students, parents and institutions. For the most part, our entire childhood is spent in school.  School allows us to learn vision and wisdom while spending our days with friends learning the social attributes needed to survive in later life.  In today’s society, both mom and dad may work and school allows everyone in the household to leave for the day and return for a reunion at night.  Schools…
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Digital Citizenship

When we talk about citizenship, it seems there is a generational difference of meaning.  Today I would like to take a few minutes and discuss the new term known as Digital Citizenship.  A good definition of citizenship quickly tells us of a person that meansto conduct oneself in accordance with the rights, duties, and privileges of being an inhabitant of a geographical location.  In essence, living, and abiding by the rules and regulations of their home, city, county, state, and country.  Being a good citizen means you are a contributing member of society. In recent news reports, we read of e-mails and hacked servers.  In history, we read of gangsters and bank robberies.  Both are crimes against society.  Today, so…
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What’s in a Grade?

Most recently, the Utah State Board of Education released the yearly school grades as compared one with another.  Several weeks back, I commented on the assessment score for the district but this week the grade that comes with the results goes public. As a whole, Garfield County schools did great.  While some schools struggled with this or students with that, general statistics for all show some great scores for our team.  Congratulations to our teachers and students. Escalante Elementary did a superb job in receiving an A grade with substantial success in all three disciplines.  Remaining district schools received a B grade with participation rates well above average.  Panguitch Elementary showed excellent MPG for growth compared with last year.  When…
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When Does the District Get Paid?

A few weeks back I talked about the WPU (weighted pupil unit) and other state funds, but that is not enough to run our schools.  So where else does our revenue come from?  During November of each year, local citizens pay their property taxes, which provide a large portion of revenue to the district.  This money that is paid by the taxpayers is broken into several different levies for different taxing entities.  One levy may be to pay for general school expenses, while another may be directed towards paying off facilities only. When you get your property tax notice from the county, depending on where you live, there are different taxing entities that have levied a tax to pay for…
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Assessment Data Goes Public

While district student’s take most required assessments in the spring, results don’t make it back till after the summer vacation ends and school starts in session.  This year is no exception.  Recently, the ACT results for the district wide application of the spring ACT became public with Garfield County students scoring a combined composite of 19.6 close behind the state average of 20.2.  In the last five years, 19.6 is right in the middle of our low of 18.7 in 2014 and our high of 20.4 in 2015. ACT started in 1959 as a college readiness assessment.  Later it was expanded to define college and career readiness standards.  Several Utah districts are using the ACT as a baseline to show…
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Laptops For Students

While some districts have tried a grade or maybe even a school, Garfield County School District announces plans to move the entire district’s grades 4-12 population to a 1:1 computer ratio, which places a laptop computer in the hands of all those students who wish to receive one.  While there are some hoops to jump through concerning replacement insurance to cover the devices, parents are encouraged to plan to embrace this new offering just after schools start in August. For those interested in purchasing your child’s computer independent of the district, our systems are a little different than a MAC or Windows machine.  The district is using the Google Operating System similar to the one that is common in the…
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National School Lunch Program

Most districts in Utah participate in the National School Lunch Program or NSLP.  NSLP is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946.  Over the years, many changes have influenced the NSLP yielding both healthier menus and political outcomes.  What was considered healthy in the ‘60s is dubbed unhealthy today.  All meals are planned to meet or exceed current guidelines in the lunch program.  All efforts are to provide our students with the most nutritious meal available. The program is operated from Federal, State, and local…
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The Utah WPU

As the school year begins and students again make their way to our buildings, I thought I would take a minute to remind everyone the process we use to fund public education.  Public education as we know it was assumed to mean an education system that was funded with public dollars.  But in the last decade or so, the definition has become more complex.  It including such things as ADA (Average Daily Attendance) and ADM (Average Daily Membership), with student tracking to guarantee no local school gets more than the allocated funds meant to cover a student’s 180-day school year. This allocation is called the WPU or the Weight Pupil Unit which is equal to a little over $3,000 per…
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ALEKS- Can I Help with Math at Home?

Garfield County has been participating in a grant program from the Utah STEM Action Center to utilize automated math tracking software to help parents and teachers follow success of their children’s math education.  Garfield students will once again be receiving partial funding from Utah STEM Action Center to provide the ALEKS software package. Based on support from the school board, students will be able to use their school assigned computers to work with the ALEKS software daily at school, at home, or where there is an internet signal.  The ALEKS software is great for students 3rd through 12th grades. Besides providing students with daily worksheets that are tailored to their math curriculum needs, the software assesses the students’ performance and…
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What is 1:1

While reading the March 2014 Superintendent’s Corner, I noticed Mr. Dalton had mentioned that the district was at the state target of making available one computer to every student.  During the last school board meeting, I introduced the prospects of taking the district to the next level of 1 : 1, placing a computer in every student’s hands for use both at school and at home. Through the mini grant program and with district funds, computer inventory numbers are such that each student can be assigned an individual computer for their individual use.  The proposal would give all students from grades 4th -12th a Chromebook for personal use at both school and home.  Third grade would have a Chromebook available…
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New Superintendent’s Introduction

Hello Garfield County! I would like to take today to introduce myself, what I represent, and what my goals are for the students of Garfield County School District.  I replaced Mr. Ben Dalton as of July 1, 2016.  Mr. Dalton made several major changes in Garfield’s education practices.  I hope to finish up some of his projects and modernize several other areas. My parents are from Minersville and I was raised in Beaver.  In 31 years, I have taught 6th grade for one year, Science and Math for 12 years at Beaver High School, and have been involved in school administration for 18 years. I am a proponent of student success.  I have a philosophy that all students can learn…
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