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District Newsletter – November 16, 2023

Dr. Elizabeth Grant

Dear Salt Lake City School District community and families,

Over the last weeks, I have shared with you my goal for Salt Lake City School District to become the flagship district in our state. With the talent in this district and the support of our community, we can lead the state in measures of student growth, equity, opportunity, and accomplishment. Already, the district is home to some of the most well-trained teachers in the state, it is at the forefront of innovative career pathway programs, and it is innovating in attending to community health through school-based health centers.

I’d like to add another goal for us—that we lead in treating each other with dignity.

In visiting schools and listening to students, employees, and community leaders, I’ve learned that while great teaching and learning are happening daily, there are also daily examples of demeaning and hurtful interactions in our schools. We hear racial slurs in our school hallways, there is bullying in our lunchrooms, and a need for civility when we disagree. Hatred, contempt, and negativity are all-too common in our schools and in our community.

Last month, a group of our school and district leaders had the privilege to meet with two founders of the Dignity Index—Tim Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics and co-founder of UNITE, and Tami Pyfer, Project Director for UNITE and former Senior Education Advisor to Utah Governor Gary Herbert. The Dignity Index is an eight-point scale for measuring how we talk to one another when we disagree, with an eight representing that we treat each other with dignity, no matter what. At the heart of the Dignity Index is the belief that contempt causes division and that dignity eases division. While this project was started to improve our national political discourse, a focus on dignity is needed in our schools and our community now more than ever.

We can be a dignity district. Already, we have had a Dignity Symposium with some of our refugee students, families, and school leaders. Students at Highland High are connecting with elementary school students and working to write dignity expectations for their understanding. A teacher at West High used the Dignity Index to help students discuss complex current events. Social studies teachers are including human dignity in a definition of civic readiness.  And, students are starting to name expected behaviors as being an eight on the dignity scale. With just the lightest of introductions to the index, this is a meaningful start. There is a great deal more we can do.

I urge you to visit and become familiar with this initiative and its eight-point scale.

Over the next months, and years, we will reinforce the importance of respect and dignity and the expectation that all of us—students, faculty, staff, and community members—interrupt contempt and build dignity in our conversations and interactions.

I welcome your ideas and support as we restore dignity and become a dignity district. I hope you will join us on this journey.


Elizabeth Grant, Ph.D.
Salt Lake City School District

District to Present Initial Recommendations on School Closures, Boundary Adjustments, and Program Placement

The November 20, 2023, Board meeting, will be held in the auditorium at Glendale Middle School (1430 W. Andrew Ave., SLC, UT). During this meeting, the district will share its initial recommendation on school closures, boundary adjustments, and placement of special district programs, as well as initial information about transition plans if the Board of Education votes to close schools. The initial recommendations will be reviewed in the Board meeting and posted on the district website that same night. The public portion of the meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

School Choice and Open Enrollment

In Utah, families have a choice in where their students attend school. Utah law allows families and their students to apply to attend a school even if it is outside of their neighborhood or district boundaries. Early Open Enrollment is the time when parents can submit their application(s) for the coming school year. Early Open Enrollment applications are accepted from November 15 through the first Friday in February. You can see a full timeline of the Early Open Enrollment process on our website.

With significant changes possibly coming to our school district in the next few months, we are adding a Special Open Enrollment Period this year for our families and students who may be affected by potential elementary school closures and possible elementary school boundary changes. If needed, the Special Open Enrollment Period will be available from February 5, 2024 – February 18, 2024. Families will need to apply using the online Open Enrollment Application. On the application, you can mark that you are applying because of a school closure or boundary change.

Special Open Enrollment applications and Early Open Enrollment applications will be reviewed at the same time by school principals. By March 15, 2024, principals will contact parents to inform them if their application for Early Open Enrollment or Special Open Enrollment has been accepted or declined.

November 20 Public Comment

The Board has added 30 minutes of public comment time to the November 20 Board meeting specifically for school closures and boundary adjustments. If you want to sign up to speak during this comment period, call April Johnson, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, at (801) 578-8351, to be placed on the public comment list.

REMINDER: The November 20 Board meeting will be held at Glendale Middle School (1430 W. Andrew Ave., SLC, UT), starting at 6 p.m.

Public Hearing on December 5, 2023

The Board of Education of Salt Lake City School District will hold a public hearing on the proposed school closure of potentially:

  • Emerson Elementary,
  • Hawthorne Elementary,
  • M. Lynn Bennion Elementary,
  • Mary W. Jackson Elementary,
  • Newman Elementary,
  • Riley Elementary, and/or
  • Wasatch Elementary.

The public hearing is also to hear public input on potential boundary adjustments of all open elementary schools within Salt Lake City School District. The hearing will be held on:

Tuesday, December 5, 2023, 6:30 p.m.
in the West High School Auditorium (241 N. 300 W., SLC, UT)

The public hearing will be part of a larger public board meeting. The entire board agenda will be posted and available no later than 5:00 p.m. on December 4, 2023.

If you need translation support, please call (801) 578-8378.

District Launches Second Apprenticeship Program with Utah PaperBox

The district and the Salt Lake Education Foundation, in partnership with Utah PaperBox, Talent Ready Utah, and Salt Lake Community College, are excited to announce a new apprenticeship program available to our high school seniors. Students selected for this program earn college credit and professional experience in the first year of the apprenticeship. Upon first-year completion, students can then attend Salt Lake Community College tuition-free, thanks to Utah PaperBox, to complete the final two years of the apprenticeship. The apprentices learn every aspect of the manufacturing process at Utah PaperBox, including pre-press and design, printing, cutting and gluing, and packaging and delivery. After successfully completing the three-year program, students are guaranteed an interview for a full-time job at Utah PaperBox.

Salt Lake City School District was the first to offer an apprenticeship program (with Stadler Rail) and is excited to be part of this second program. To have the first – and only – two youth apprenticeship programs in the state in our school district reflects our commitment to building career and college pathways for our students. We are grateful to the partners who are helping us serve our students through these important programs.

Leaders in Student Growth

Superintendent Grant has repeatedly said our district is going to be the leader in student growth. Below are two excellent examples of how we are accomplishing that goal.

  • In the 2022-23 school year, 263 students earned the Seal of BiliteracyThis is up from 177 in 2021-22! The Seal of Biliteracy is awarded to students who are proficient in English and one or more World Languages or the Indigenous Languages of Navajo, Ute, or Paiute.
  • The district had an increase of students in all demographic groups participating in Early College opportunities during 2022-23. We had an average of 3% more students enrolled in IB, AP, and Concurrent Enrollment. We will continue to watch this growth and appreciate the work that schools are doing to encourage students to develop that academic identity and willingness to increase their rigor in classes.

Winter Weather Guidelines

As we approach winter and the stormy conditions that come with it, Salt Lake City School District schools will be open on all regularly scheduled school days unless circumstances create health or safety issues. Like any public service, people count on our schools to remain open. Our role in the community goes beyond providing educational services. 

  • Many district students rely on their neighborhood schools for breakfast and lunch. These meals are not simply convenient; they provide nutritional needs for children who may otherwise go without. 
  • A significant number of students in the district would remain home alone without supervision if their school had an unscheduled closure. Many families don't have the luxury of adjusting work schedules on short notice. 
  • A functioning school building provides warmth and safety in addition to classroom instruction.  

We fully expect our schools to be open and functioning normally throughout the winter, but weather conditions can vary greatly in different areas of the city. During adverse conditions, we encourage parents to make attendance decisions for their children based on their specific ability to get to school safely. If you do not think it is safe to send or take your kids to school during a weather incident, you have the option to keep them home. 

If severe weather conditions force a late start to school or a switch to an emergency remote learning day, the district will inform parents as early in the morning as possible. Notifications will be posted on social media, the district website, via email, and we may will also send phone calls and text messages to our families. If your contact information has recently changed, please call your school and provide them updated information. This will enable the school and/or the district to reliably notify you.