First day of classes ‘a great start,’ says Cache County School District superintendent

As Cache County kids start boarding those big yellow buses and heading back to school, Superintendent Steven Craig Norton calls their first days back “a great start to a great year.”Norton’s report of school activities and issues took up the majority of time at the most recent Cache County School District Board of Education meeting August 26.Norton started his report talking about first-day success of the twenty-seven schools included in the district. He reported no major transportation problems and despite having to reduce school lunch meal choices to one option, children were “ecstatic” about lunchtime.Norton also expressed an overall appreciation for the new sidewalk Smithfield City added and stated that children were able to find the new route while walking or biking to school. Board member, Allen Grunig, inquired about safe route knowledge and was assured by Norton that the district utilizes UDOT’s (Utah Department of Transportation) better maps and safe routes. According to UDOT’s website, this is all part of their SNAP or Student Neighborhood Access Program currently being used by some Utah schools. The program was designed to encourage students to utilize walking or biking to school and promotes benefits including exercise and less traffic.Another recent addition to Smithfield received praise as the new Birch Creek Elementary school was deemed a “good investment” with an enrollment of 500 students. It was also added that all elementary schools in the district still have room for students.Following the first day account was information about the School Match Report. The report is provided by a research and database service that “collects, audits, integrates, processes and manages information about public and private elementary and secondary schools,” according to schoolmatch.com.Norton commented that despite data being about one year old, the report should give the district a better idea of how their schools are doing. With enrollment at about 15,000 students “We are one of the larger districts” Norton said.Class sizes currently stand with 17-19 kids per kindergarten class, while secondary school classes sizes are “pinched” with about 30 students per class.With class sizes so large, school expenditure and construction were reported as low and fell into the tenth percentile. One expense briefly touched on was teacher salaries. Norton commented that teachers could teach in places other than Utah and get paid more 9 out of 10 times.The district fell into the thirty-fourth percentile for income and when the topic of budget was discussed, the district will continue to strive for “high achievement with low budget” said board member, Richard Knight.Despite these issues, the district came out in the eight-six percentile overall for quality.As Norton explained the statistics, he said, “We really come out good.”-jessie.a.sweat@aggiemail.usu.edu

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