Superintendent Search

The position for Superintendent has been posted. The following are the leadership qualities the Board is looking for in the new superintendent. You may share your thoughts with me at or here on this blog.

Leadership Qualifications

• Accepts the collaborative governance model in working with the Board of Education and is committed to doing whatever possible to assist the board as a body as well as to assist individual board members.

• Demonstrates high moral character, integrity and good judgment.

• Promotes instructional excellence and high student achievement and a commitment to collaboration through Professional Learning Communities.

• Understands the unique culture of the district and respects role of parents in the education of their children.

• Communicates well and is able to build trust with employees, families, and community members. Listens to, understands, and respects different points of view. Shares a clear vision of educational excellence and inspires and motivates all stakeholders.

• Models and applies instructional leadership and best practices. Works with all stakeholders to increase student engagement and achievement.

• Inspires teamwork through collaboration and consensus building with various groups inside and outside the District.

• Advocates for the school district and its children in the community and at the state level.

• Uses data systematically to track student progress, inform instructional organizational decisions, and communicate district progress regularly to the Board of Education.

• Knows the legislative process and is able to develop an effective working relationship with the Utah Legislature, Utah State School Board, Utah State Office of Education and other state entities.

• Will manage the resources of the District in a manner that assures adherence to the budgetary provisions and the maximum effectiveness and efficiency in their use for promoting excellence in teaching and learning.

• Possesses leadership skills, including articulation of the vision and mission of the school district, exceptional ability to problem solve and make decisions, effectively delegate authority, collaborate with various stakeholder groups, and to inspire and gain the trust and confidence of others.

• Develops and maintains mutually beneficial partnerships between the school district and local governments, business community and other educational institutions.

• Possesses experience collaborating with employee groups, associations and unions.

Superintendent Henshaw is Retiring

Press Release  March 4, 2015

The Alpine School District Board of Education announces the retirement of Superintendent Vernon M. Henshaw. During his 38 years of service in public education, Dr. Henshaw taught social studies at Lehi High School and filled many administrative positions; specifically, assistant principal at Provo High School and principal of American Fork and Timpanogos high schools, and assistant superintendent of 10-12 schools, before serving as superintendent of schools, where he has led Alpine School District through growth, transition, and academic improvement for 15 years. Dr. Henshaw’s retirement date is July 31, 2015. Whenever asked about the greatest challenge Alpine School District faces, Superintendent Henshaw replies, “Our greatest challenge is to ensure that engaged learning through nurturing instruction happens every day in every classroom.” Some of the District’s most noteworthy milestones under Henshaw’s leadership include: • Steady improvement in end-of-level test scores in language arts, science and math while managing student enrollment increasing from 47,000 to over 73,000 students • Completed over $640 million in building projects while successfully passing bonds in 2001 ($200M), 2006 ($230M), and 2011 ($210M) • Graduation rates climbed from 73% in 2008 to 90% in 2014 • Awarded Utah’s Superintendent of the Year in 2008 Dr. Henshaw has left an indelible mark on Alpine School District. His innovation and leadership have propelled the District into the 21st century as a model of how public education can successfully serve the needs of each student. His record of accomplishments is impressive. Yet the most significant legacy he will leave is the positive and personal connections he made with employees, parents and students. District leaders, administrators and employees have experienced high levels of positive morale and employee satisfaction throughout Dr. Henshaw’s tenure. He has a reputation for treating everyone with dignity and respect. In return, he has earned respect and admiration. Dr. Vernon M. Henshaw, Superintendent Board of Education: John C. Burton, President; JoDee C. Sundberg, Vice-President S. Scott Carlson, Brian E. Halladay, Wendy K. Hart, Paula H. Hill, Deborah C. Taylor In a letter sent to all district staff members, Dr. Henshaw wrote: “I consider you not only my colleagues, but also friends, and feel grateful for having worked with such a remarkable team of committed professional and compassionate individuals. My years in the District have been filled with opportunities and growth, which have blessed my family and me beyond expectations. Thank you for making this journey so meaningful and memorable.” # # #

2014 Legislative Session

The 2014 Legislative Session runs from January 27-March 13. You can find the education bills in this year’s legislature in a couple of different formats.

1.USOE Tracking Sheet–this document tracks the education bills filed, their status and the stand on each taken by the various education entities. This is updated weekly.

Click on right: 2014 Legislative Session

Click on lower right: Tracking Sheet

2. USBA/USSA/UASBO Joint Legislative Committee (JLC) Legislative update. This document describes each education bill, the stand taken by the JLC and talking points. This document is updated weekly.

3. Utah State Legislature–This site gives the Legislative Calendar, all Bills, complete texts, Status, Votes, Legislator’s names and Bio, contact info, access to audio/video of the proceedings, etc.


Grading Schools

I have never liked the Bell Curve for grading students in school. It does not make sense to me to ensure that some students fail no matter what. It just doesn’t seem to me to be in the best interest of children and their learning. I have worked for better than that for many years.

It makes me incredibly sad to have our State Legislature, in the name of ‘transparency’, ‘accountability’, and ‘parental rights’, (which I believe in) apply the Bell Curve to our schools. I hope our legislative leaders are sincere when they say we will ‘work together’ to tweak this piece of legislation.

The USBA link has more information on the Grading of Schools.

Space Center

I, too, value the Space Center and how it has blessed the lives of so many students, including my own, over the years. I appreciate the vision, passion and commitment of Mr. Williamson.

Several years ago I supported the purchase of land specifically for the Space Center to have its own place. Two years ago, I supported the rebuild of the Space Center on the Bond proposal, but when we took that out to the public, the support was not there for a rebuild at that time. The district, feeling it was still important, took it off the Bond list and put it on the Capital Projects list so it would not be dropped or forgotten.

The Fire Marshall gave the order to shut down the Center for safety reasons. The district has a responsibility to comply with these orders. This ensures the safety of the students as well that of our staff.

I am delighted at the public support being shown for the Space Center.  It is exciting to have a committee, including Mr. Williamson, evaluating and planning for the future of the Center in a place of its own, with the technological capabilities consistent with the times. This new Center will stand and bless the lives for many more generations and Mr. Williamson’s legacy and passion will be carried on in the most enduring way a teacher could desire.

Anyone who truly values the Center and its teaching effectiveness should be excited for the current events and what that means for the future of the Christa McAuliffe Space Center in Alpine School District.

School Board District Boundary Changes

I am the Board Member from the current ASD Board District 6.  The elected school board boundaries were re-aligned after the 2010 census. This boundary change effects the election of your Board representative this November and the boundaries become effective January 1, 2013.

  • My elected area, District 6, was broken into 3 pieces and put into other board districts. Orem was divided down State Street—this is how it shakes out for Orem residents.
  • District 4 Pleasant Grove/Lindon will include Orem, North of 800 N and West of State Street. Mark Clement is the current Board Member for District 4. He is running for re-election.
  • District 5 Orem, south of 800 N, West of State Street and all of Vineyard. JoDee Sundberg is the current Board Member and her seat is not up for re-election this year.
  • District 6 is now Lehi. There is an election for the Board Seat in Lehi.
  • District 7 Everything in Orem—East of State street. Since I now live in District 7, I am running for that Board Seat.

Link for Boundary Maps can be found under Campaign Tab

Candidate Survey Response

I received this survey from Ed Barfuss, a Highland City resident. I thought the questions were timely, so here are my responses.

Alpine School Board Candidate Questionnaire
Survey by Ed Barfuss 

There is a great debate in education today that ranges from international curriculum and standards to the autonomy of home education; from mandated classroom seat time to online, anywhere, anytime; and from mega districts to village schools.  Given the range and diversity of the arguments on both sides of these issues, it would be helpful to know where you stand on the following subjects:

1.       What will be your primary role as an ASD board member? 
Who do you represent and how will you represent them?

A Board’s responsibility is Policy and Oversight.

The primary role of a school board member is to work collaboratively with the other members of the board and the district administration to implement the education program of the district and to ensure fiscal prudence and responsibility.

A board member represents the people who elected them as well as the interests and welfare of the organization and the stakeholders of the whole district. A board member has no authority alone—board member influence comes in the ability to work with others to determine policy and direction for the district.

A board member is also expected to be an advocate for the district helping to set the tone that determines the overall morale and organizational health of the employees, the patrons and students.

2.    What is the best level of control over education?  Is it a/an:
a.    International consortium of developed countries
b.    The Federal Department of Education
c.    The State Office of Education directs school districts
d.    The State Office of Education directs all schools – no districts
e.    Independent School Districts with no state oversight
f.     Independent public (charter) schools – no state, no districts, just parent led school boards at each school
g.    All private schools, partially funded through a generous tax rebate system or unrestricted vouchers
h.    Classroom where parent and teacher decide what is best for the child and tailor the education to meet the child’s needs
i.      Family – home educated children
j.      Some combination of or none of the above – explain

The Utah constitution spells out the system of responsibility for education in Utah. I am comfortable with this. As a general rule, the best decisions are made at the  local level and I am an advocate for collaboration between the school, the classroom teacher and the parent. I do believe that districts and state boards play an important and significant role in a balanced system of education.

While I understand Federal government concern for education throughout the nation, I think their involvement should be minimal and limited—no one-size-fits all mandates and no punitive, money driven requirements that shackle a local board’s ability to meet local needs.

3.    How would you vote to pay for major capital expenditures?
a.    State funded buildings of standard design (LDS Chapels example)
b.    Local (district wide) bond measures
c.    Pay-as-you-go plan
d.    Pay-as-you-go mandate
e.    Some other option

Buildings in the district are similar to a home mortgage—you get a loan because generally you have to, to build or buy a house, but you want to pay it off as quickly as possible.  I see local bond measures as the reasonable way to pay for the buildings we need for our growth.

I supported a pay-as-you-go plan for elementary schools in 2006-07, but that became impossible with the downturn in the economy and the continued growth in the district. As the economy recovers and revenue increases I would again support a pay-as-you-go plan. I would oppose a mandate as that takes away local flexibility.

4.    What is ASD doing well?

Alpine School District is doing many things well.
A.   Our focus on Student learning through the principles of a PLC (Professional Learning Community)
B.   Data driven decision-making at every level that is driving success for students
C.   CRT, ACT, and AP test scores are on an upward trend even with an annual increase in student growth
D.   Graduation rates are trending upward and we are implementing a number of innovations to increase the opportunities for high school students to be successful.
E.    Financial Philosophy of the District—Conservative and sound management of district resources sensitive to the taxpayers while meeting the needs of the students. An amazingly smooth ride through a difficult economic downturn through wise financial planning and decision-making over the years.
F.    Comprehensive system of collaboration with all district stakeholders, Parents, teachers, administrators, support personnel, legislators, city officials, civic organizations, governing agencies, business and the general public
G.   Professional Development for our teachers and administrators—which addresses quality teachers and instruction as well as recruitment and retention of quality, competent principals
H.   A district culture of continuous improvement and purposeful collaboration
I.  Employee morale
J.  An attitude of innovation driven by needs at the local level
K.    A properly balanced, top-down, bottom-up, collaborative governance model that respects the unique needs and personality of each school community allowing flexibility, wisdom and sensitivity in addressing issues
L.    Laying the foundation and infrastructure for technology
M.  Great volunteer opportunities for community members
N.   Exceptionally competent leadership in the Superintendent and Business Administrator

5.    Where do you think ASD could improve?

A. Increase collaboration with business and encourage more business partnerships
B. A comprehensive technology plan

6.    Is your schedule open and flexible enough to allow for the considerable time required to study the issues and do you intend to consult with your constituents in town hall meetings or through electronic media?

I currently spend 20 – 30 hours a week taking care of my Board responsibilities. I am committed to being an informed, always learning, continuously improving board member. I have supported and helped implement a comprehensive feedback system for all in our community to have input in district direction and decisions—electronic media and community meetings being part of that.

7.    Where do you stand on Common Core?  Do you believe the benefits are worth the $5M ASD will spend this year to partially implement the State Board of Education mandated Common Core standards? 

I support the implementation of the Utah Core Curriculum as has been directed by the State Board of Education. I believe it will strengthen our curriculum and give our students a greater depth of understanding, knowledge and application. I have confidence in the professionalism of our teachers and administrators to determine their classroom instruction and meet the educational needs of their students.

I do not know where the $5 million figure is coming from. We have ongoing professional development—it would be nice if it were $5 million—but I think that is a misunderstanding.

Professional Development is worth the money we invest in it because it improves classroom instruction and student achievement. It is one of the things are community said was important to them during the What Counts process in 2008.

8.    Governor Romney is a strong free market advocate and believes competition improves the end product. Do you believe ASD needs to do more to foster competition and if so, what additional competitive measures would you advocate over what ASD is already doing?

ASD’s focus is on continuous improvement for everyone. This means we are always competing with ourselves and with the data.  Our goal is to offer the best education experience possible for every student. We look at and visit other districts, schools within and without the district– public schools, charter schools, private schools, research institutions and their findings, as well as schools in other states and other nations, to learn all we can to improve our performance. We are always competing, by the very best definition of competition, when talking about our children, their learning and growth.

9.    Do you believe organizations or curriculum should be allowed on campus that encourages things like abortion, non-age appropriate sex education, the gay life style, anti-Christian/atheist/humanist ideology, anti-American propaganda, etc? Does the district have an obligation to openly resist groups or ideologies that conflict with the social and/or religious beliefs of most of Utah County’s residents?

I believe schools do and should reflect their community values and that there are boundaries of acceptable behavior for a healthy civic environment. I am an advocate for strong moral and civic values.

Our community is becoming more diverse in its religious and cultural make-up. Every child and every employee should be safe at school to work, learn and grow without fear of reprisal from adults or students. I recognize my responsibility as a board member to uphold the rule of law, obey the laws of the land, and to protect due process and the individual rights of employees and students. These are carried out through the policies and processes of the district that help the board and administration govern.

10. There is a trend in elementary and secondary education to provide meals, childcare, health services, and life counseling, in addition to the three R’s.  Do you believe these additional social services to be the proper role of public education and how will you vote on such issues?

I do not believe that public education was designed to carry the social issues load that has been placed upon it. For over 100 years laws have been passed, both national and state legislation, that gradually added a variety of social services to the school’s list of responsibilities. The school board does not write and pass the legislation but we are required to act in accordance with the laws.

Check this out!

Timpanogos High school and 2 other ASD High Schools are in the top 10 High Schools in the State!

Best of State–ASD Swept the Junior High Honors
The 2012 “Best of State” awards have been announced. Mountain Ridge Junior High swept the public education category by winning Best Public School K-12, Best Principal-Mark Whitaker, and Best Teacher K-12-Samantha Thompson. Congratulations!