Sunday, August 18, 2013

Utah Core Standards

My daughter will be interning as a High School math teacher in Utah Valley this year.  She is excited and passionate about making a difference in the lives of students.  Our other daughter has recently left on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and will be serving in the Belgium-Netherlands mission.  As we have talked as a family, we feel that teaching High School math is a mission of a different sort in really helping students to be successful.

As I was talking with my daughter she mentioned that they have recently ordered new textbooks that confirm to the Utah Core Standards and all of the teachers are working on the new curriculum to support these standards.  As the political season has progressed, many candidates have taken a position against the Utah Core Standards in order to score political points with the radical right wing of the Republican Party in Utah.  My daughter mentioned that when teachers hear these discussions, they hesitate in putting their whole hearts into the work that must be done to create the new curriculum for their classes.  I am reminded of the bible verse: For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?  

I hope that those who hope to achieve political advantage from opposing the common core will realize the damage they are inflicting on our teachers and children as they hear this uncertain sound.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Charter School Statistics

I thought this article had some interesting insights into how charter schools compare to more regulated district schools.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Space Center

The Space Center committee has begun to meet to determine the future of the Space Center.  Our immediate concern is completing upgrades to get a few of the ships working again so that we can keep the volunteer pipeline working.  The committee is planning to report to the school board in March on their recommendations.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2012 Elections

I am running for the Alpine School District Board in District 4.  I have served as a member of the School Board representing the Pleasant Grove area since April 2011, contributing to the success of the district during this time.   I ask for your vote to support me in an additional term for the following reasons:

  1. Small Class Size: I have 9 children, 4 of which are currently attending school in Alpine School District.   I have a second grader that reminds me of how important reading is.  As I visit her class, I recognize the importance of small classes, particularly in these early grades.
  2. Advanced Learning: My fifth grader is in an Advanced Learning Laboratory (ALL) class and has a terrific teacher that inspires her to learn.  It is important to fund programs for advanced students as well as those who need supplementary instruction.  
  3. Efficient Math: Junior high school mathematics will be changing under the new Common Core this year.  My 9th grader reminds me that students need to be fluent in math facts if they are going to be successful in algebra and geometry.  I am a strong advocate of encouraging children to pursue careers in math, science and engineering.
  4. Parental Involvement: While serving on a High School community council, I realized the impact that parents can have as they participate in PTA, community councils and volunteer in our schools.  I will provide increased opportunities for parents to participate in their children's education.  My 11th grader reminds me that a big part of an education is learning to get along with other people.  I am a strong supporter of sports, clubs and other cultural aspects of the educational system.
  5. Experience: I have 5 children who have graduated and are now in the university system.  As I see their experiences I am more committed to helping all students to be college ready when they graduate from high school.  My background as a professor of Computer Science at BYU has given me insights into what students need to learn in K-12 to be college ready.  My experience on the school board has given me the opportunity to understand the issues that need to be addressed.
  6. Fiscal Responsibility: Raising a large family has taught me the value of being careful with finances.  I am an advocate for smaller government and reduced taxes and I think that this applies to our public schools as well as the federal government.  As I have looked at the budget for Alpine School District, I have been impressed with the stewardship our administrators feel in being fiscally responsible and in delivering the best education for our tax dollars.  I will continue to try to increase the quality of our education while keeping costs to a minimum.
I appreciate your support and would like to hear your views on issues associated with Alpine school district.  Please email me, or contact me at 801-310-0967.

I look forward to working with you to help our students become their best through quality public education.

Dr. Mark Clement

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I just want to thank all of my campaign workers and supporters.  I feel proud to be associated with people of integrity and character who care so much about education.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Space Center

The fire marshall recently shut down the space center at Central Elementary for safety reasons. The estimate to reopen the space center on the current site is $700,000. A committee has been formed to decide on what to do next with the space center. This could include building a new facility on the property next to Central Elementary or other options. 

I would like to find a way to preserve the leadership opportunities and the simulations of the space center. I think it has served our community well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Superintendent Compensation

There has been a discussion recently about superintendent salaries.  As I have researched this subject, I have concluded that our superintendent compensation is in line with national and state averages for large districts.

This article from the Salt Lake Tribune in 2010 examined the average salaries and how Utah compares to other states.  Across the country, superintendents' base salary averages $225,897 for districts with 25,000 or more students.

 "Alpine School District recently decided to adjust Superintendent Vernon Henshaw's salary to make it more competitive. Henshaw leads the state's third-largest district, but last year, he received the smallest compensation package among superintendents of Utah's five largest districts. "The Alpine Board of Education conducted a market analysis, comparing his pay with regional and national salaries. The board opted to give Henshaw a 5.3 percent raise for 2010-11, boosting his salary from $188,969 to $198,965, but still well below the national average."

"The bottom line is, we're competing with the Wasatch Front," said Board President Debbie Taylor. "People from out of state take one look [at Utah's per-pupil funding and large class sizes] and say, 'Never mind.'

In 2012 KSL reported "The Alpine School Board approved a new contract and pay increase for Superintendent Vern Henshaw on Tuesday. Henshaw will begin his 13th year as superintendent over the state's largest school district with a 2-percent raise, bringing his base salary to $211,335" The superintendent received the same percentage compensation increase as teachers in the district.
"To get quality, you have to be competitive," Taylor said. "People don't work for nothing. They want to be paid for their work. We are really very efficient with our money."

 A recent article in the Daily Herald compared gross compensation including benefits.  The large districts included in the analysis were:
  • "Alpine: 68,000 students, 5,010 full-time employees, ... superintendent gross compensation: $266,998"
  • "Granite: 67,700 students, 4,901 full-time employees, ... superintendent gross compensation: $245,000"
  • "Davis: 67,000 students, 4,000 full-time employees, ... superintendent gross compensation: $256,350"

It appears to me that the superintendent for Alpine district is receiving comparable compensation to other large districts in Utah.

I am highly committed to spending taxpayer dollars efficiently. Compensation decisions are always difficult, but they are particularly difficult when you look at the leader of a large organization. I am guessing that you have seen the impact a great leader can have on the vision and morale of an organization. I have been really impressed with the culture that Vern Henshaw has created in the district.

Almost every teacher is involved in continual improvement and student scores show that his approach is working. If his compensation were tied to increases in student scores, his compensation would be much higher than it is.

The district operates on a budget of around $400,000,000 per year. Most of this is teacher salaries. If a great leader were able to motivate employees to be even 1% more efficient, this would result in a $4,000,000 increase in net benefit to the students. I guess I use this to illustrate the importance of having a great leader for the organization. If you decided to save money by hiring a less effective
leader with perhaps a $100,000 lower salary, you would be able to hire 2 additional teachers (this would lower the average class size by only 0.04%). And yet if it lowered teacher motivation by even 1%, this would be an extremely poor financial decision (you would save $100,000 and yet lose $4,000,000 in productivity).

I guess that it is difficult from even an individual employee perspective to justify paying lower than average salaries. You eventually lose the great employees that really make your organization

I would like more input on how to deal with salaries in the district. Although some items seem to have simple answers, I have looked at the budget in detail and I do not see any wasteful spending. Our business administrator is extremely careful with finances and in every case where I have thought I have spotted waste, I have received an explanation that shows that the budget decision was based on a valid and careful examination of the data.