Davis School District Public Meeting Notices

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Davis School Board Will Not Pray

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on May 5 that the town council in Greece, New York could pray at the beginning of its meetings. Because of that ruling, I immediately began asking the Davis School Board to begin opening our meetings with prayer. I asked in each of our regularly scheduled meetings since then. When I asked for the fourth time on June 17, Board President Tamara Lowe read a prepared statement. She stated that she, as board president, was authorized by board policy to decide what would be on the agendas of school board meetings. She then stated that she would not place prayer on the Davis School Board agendas because she felt it would be divisive.

I have been present during the offering of many prayers in public meetings. Only rarely have I felt a spirit of devisiveness in a prayer. The vast majority of prayers generate a feeling of understanding and cooperation.  I must say I find it inconsistent to pledge allegiance to the flag, saying, “…one nation, under God…”, and then refuse to seek his blessing in our public meetings.

As I consider the history of prayer in public meetings since our nation’s founding, I cannot feel it appropriate to condemn our forefathers for praying to begin their public meetings.

For centuries our country has recognized the rule of the majority. Of course we have also worked to recognize and protect the rights of minorities. In the case of prayer, the rights of no minority are violated by being present when others pray. Although our constitution guarantees a right to freedom of speech and a right to free exercise of religion, there is no recognized right not to hear a prayer. In the case of prayer in school board meetings, any attendee who prefers not to be in the room during the prayer could enter the room after the completion of the prayer. 

Ultimately the Davis School Board president should more carefully consider whether we are “one school district, under God” and whether “In God our school district trusts”. If not, she may not really represent the values of our nation and especially of our community.                        

What Would Peter Cannon Do About Common Core

I adamantly oppose Common Core standards and its associated testing and data collection. The Constitution does not authorize any role in education to the federal government. But the federal department of education applies intense pressure on states and school districts to adopt and implement national education standards, testing and data collection. 

Utah should create its own education standards and testing. We are smart enough to do it. We understand our values and our children better than national organizations do. And we care about our children more than politicians, bureaucrats and educators in Washington do.

Our Davis School District Superintendent has publicly declared in writing that Davis district does not teach to the common core standards. I have personally compared the eighth grade math standards in common core, Utah core and Davis DESK standards. Common core and Utah core standards are verbatim identical. Davis DESK standards are written in more abbreviated and simpler language but state the same requirements in the same sequence and organized in the same structure. It is false to say that eighth grade math standards in Davis DESK and common core are not the same. To call it by a different name and say we therefore do not teach common core is just disingenuous.

I value our constitutional right to be secure in our persons, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. The federal education data collection program including state longitudinal data collection systems place us at extreme risk of having our personal data taken and tracked without our permission. I am alert to this danger and oppose release of personally identifiable education data outside our district without parental permission. 

If I were elected president of the Davis School Board, I would present a resolution for the board’s approval asking the state board of education to replace common core standards with standards created and approved by Utah educators and parents.

In this matter we must be courageous. When we stand against federal involvement in education, including common core standards, we will be threatened with the loss of federal funding. That could total 7-10% of our education funding. But we will save considerable expense by not having to jump through federal hoops. Some will say Utah deserves to receive its fair share of federal tax dollars. Long ago there may have been a fair share of the taxes we paid to the federal government. But today it is borrowed money. We should change our mindset and help the federal government borrow less to be given to us. 

Our whole country will have a stronger educational system when 50 states have 50 competing education systems each trying to be the best in its own way.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Peter Cannon Voting Summary

Some of my opponents in the Davis School Board Race have implied or even openly stated that I am “difficult to work with”. Of course, many of my supporters and I disagree with that characterization. But some facts may help voters decide for themselves.

Below is a synopsis, taken from the official online minutes of our board meetings, of my voting record since I have served on the Davis Board of Education. It reflects only those votes where I disagreed with the majority of board members. More detail is available in the public minutes or recordings themselves which are available online at the following place: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicHome.aspx?ak=1000050

Please see for yourself whether these kinds of votes support their claim.

Calendar Year 2011
              January  2011 - Did not approve a payment to Cisco Smartnet Services for renewal of the District’s maintenance contract.   Peter wanted to know if other contractors were looked at to provide the services and recommended it be reviewed at a later date so this information could be provided.  District had let the bill lapse before bringing it to the board for approval.
              March  2011  – Did not approve the West Bountiful/Woods Cross  CDA.  Peter Cannon would like time to invite those who oppose the CDA to come and share their opinions with the Board.  Peter expressed concern with all the money being spent on roads, there was only one map for the joint portion.  He would feel better if he knew where the roads and streets were running.  He was concerned with money being spent on monuments. 
              May  2011  –Did not approve 2011-2012 Fee Schedules.  Peter Cannon made a motion to postpone the vote on the Building Rental Fee Schedule until we have further data as to what it costs to use the facilities. This motion failed.  He then proposed his changes to the fee schedule.  Peter Cannon stated there is a value in making money.  If there is anything we can do to encourage economic activities that doesn’t cost the District more, that is a good thing. 
              June  2011  – Did not approve Item 6-6F-102 Building Rental.  Peter Cannon proposed several substantive changes to the building rental policy. No second to his motion. 
              June  2011  – Did not approve Negotiated Agreement with Davis Education Assn.  Peter Cannon stated we are living in tough economic times, he wished we could do more for teachers and other employees.  The Legislature couldn't provide additional funding, and we have done all we can as well.  He is impressed the teacher's association recognizes the reality of our economy and are willing to work in spite of all the cuts.  He cannot support a tax increase, as a result he cannot support the Negotiated Agreement with Davis Education Association.
              June  2011  – Did not approve Negotiated Agreement with Davis Education Support Personnel.  Peter Cannon commented he feels this could be handled in a different manner without a tax increase.  Because this is based on a tax increase, he cannot vote for it.
              June  2011  – Did not approve Adoption of 2011-2012 Tentative Budget.  Peter Cannon stated he will not vote for the budget.  Even though it is well calculated and the Business Administrator has prepared it with the preference of the Board, and accurately put into a budget many of the Board Members will support.  He wasn't able to put into the budget the things that he wanted, because he was a minority. He thinks the District employees should have an additional 2% reduction in wages across the Board. This would save $6M. Instead we have a $8.5M tax increase.  This is not fair to tax payers when they are hurting worse than the District employees.
              August  2011  – Did not approve Charter Schools / Replace current policy with a more general policy.  Peter suggested to table action on this until next board meeting.  He feels the wording suggested does not sound positive to charter schools.
              August  2011  – Did not approve Proposed 2011 -2012 Tax Rates.  Only board member to vote against tax increase.
Calendar Year 2012

              February 2012 - Did not approve Policy 11IR-110 Family Educational Rights and Privacy (FERPA).  Peter suggested we modify the wording to say that we may [not shall] disclose personal non-identifiable information.
              May 2012  - Did not approve School Fees, Fee Waivers and Provisions In Lieu of Fee Waivers.  Peter Cannon voted against the proposed policy because it would have made fee waiver applications unauditable, thus making the system unaccountable.  This policy allows families to have their fees waived even though their financial circumstances may improve
              October 2012  - Did not approve Maturation Textbook Adoption.  Lengthy discussion with some citizens and board members.  Peter Cannon made a motion to postpone the vote to look at an alternative program. Substitute motion died because there was no second.
Calendar Year 2013
              June  2013 -  Did not approve 2013-2014 Tentative Budget.  Peter Cannon thinks it is inappropriate for the Board to pass a budget of this magnitude and only ask for the public's comment just before a vote is taken on something that required public hearing.
              July  2013 – Did not approve North Salt Lake CDA – Did not feel good about voting for the CDA agreement when he had not seen it.  Mr. Cannon stated it may appear he opposes the CDA.  He likes the idea but feels they are rushing to approve it.  He does not like the idea of a legislative body like the School Board approving a Resolution that later the School Board President alone has the authority to change.
              Aug/Sep 2013 – Did not approve Policy 41-202 School Media Centers.  Peter Cannon made a motion that School Community Council be considered as the final approving authority for selecting of library resources acquisition into our school libraries.  Board voted 6 to 1 against.  Peter wanted to add to the criteria for choosing materials, supporting  character education.    Peter, Larry Smith and Burke Larsen voted for and balance of board voted against. 
              October 2013 – Did not approve Policy 1B-030 School Board Meetings Patron Comment Period.  Board voted 2 in favor and 5 against changing current procedure for parents speaking at board meetings. Opposing board members opinions regarding their "no" vote:  Believe the new policy will be an opportunity for patrons to showboat and/or push a political gain. Feels this is a political maneuver against those running; prefer patrons call them personally to air their concerns.
              November – 2013 - Did not approve Centerville City CDA Resolution.  Peter voted against the resolution because it provided $10M to upgrade housing in Centerville. This housing was in no way connected to the development area.  Peter stated that the taxpayers of Davis County should not give up $10M of tax revenue to upgrade housing in any one city.  Peter did support the idea of the commercial part of the project that would generate hundreds of new jobs.
              December 2013 - Did not approve Shortening of Board Minutes.  A unilateral decision was made by board president and district superintendent to abbreviate the minutes and work on an alternative way to provide information for the public. Peter Cannon and David Lovato voted to hold approval of the minutes until the decision of shortening board minutes could be discussed in the retreat.  
Calendar Year 2014
              January 2014 – Did not approve Clearfield CDA. Peter opposed the CDA because the 75% tax increment over a 20-year period was necessary to finance the two two-level parking garages.  He opposed Federal and UTA pressure to build the expensive parking structures.
              March 2014 - Kaysville Flint Street CDA.   Three voted against, 4 voted for.  Peter opposed approving at that time because he wanted to see the Interlocal Agreement.

Additional Disagreements Without a Vote

           March 2014 Peter has always disagreed with the practice of feeding the board and central administration staff a catered or boxed meal after the workshop meeting and before the board meeting. The district does not buy a special meal for other employees who work late. As a result, Peter has politely declined the meal ever since he has been in office.

           After attending a conference of the National Federation of Urban and Suburban School Districts in New Orleans, Peter apologized in a public board meeting for wasting tax money to pay for himself, five other board members and six senior district staff members to attend the conference. He promised never to attend another such conference unless attending as one or two representatives tasked with bringing back a detailed report to other staff and board members.