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AM Brief: Shortened school weeks, dinosaur tracksite damage & LDS stance on same-sex marriage

Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite, September 2017
Courtesy BLM Utah
A track at the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite, Sept. 26, 2017.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Northern Utah

SLC school struggles to find lunchroom staff

Lots of industries in Utah are struggling to find workers, but schools are having an especially hard time when it comes to hiring bus drivers, teachers’ aides and kitchen staff. Tonya Slaughter, kitchen manager at West High School in Salt Lake City, said that because of long lines, students sometimes have to wait 20 minutes to get food. As a last resort, the Salt Lake City district put out a call for volunteers. Director of Child Nutrition Kelly Orton said his priority is hiring more people, but he can’t compete with restaurants and other industries that are offering more pay and benefits. In the meantime, he’s had to ask teachers and administrators for help, which pulls them away from the work they need to do. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Church leader reaffirms stance against same-sex marriage

A top leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reaffirmed the faith’s opposition to same-sex marriage at the twice-yearly general conference Sunday. Dallin Oaks, the second-highest-ranking leader of the Church, said they could not alter doctrine on marriage or traditional gender roles but implored those at the conference to respect people with beliefs different than their own. Oaks’ remarks reaffirmed the faith’s long-held position on LGBTQ issues and came as debates rage throughout the United States over transgender youth and what kids should learn about gender and sexuality. — Associated Press

Southern Utah

BLM confirms construction crew damaged dinosaur tracksite

In a recent report, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management confirmed a construction crew damaged the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite near Moab. The crew fractured some of the footprints while rebuilding a boardwalk. The report said the project should be reevaluated and BLM should brief work crews on where they can and can’t go. The 112 million-year-old site is considered among the most important dinosaur track areas in the nation and contains tracks from at least 10 different species. — Associated Press

State

Replacing gas lawn mowers with electric mowers

Some Utah residents can enter to win a $299 coupon for an electric lawn mower by trading in their gas mower. The coupons will be issued through the Online Lawn Mower Exchange program. Residents of Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah and Weber counties can register online starting Monday at noon, and participants will be randomly selected Wednesday. The program is part of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s push to reduce emissions from equipment like lawn mowers. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

Mountain West schools shorten school week

Hundreds of schools across the Mountain West already have four-day weeks and now, more see it as a way to potentially attract new staff amid nationwide shortages. Academic results about four-day weeks are mixed, but students, parents and teachers have largely embraced the change. Elsie Arntzen, the Montana state superintendent, said there’s a lot on educators’ plates right now, so they're looking for more flexibility, including options like four-day workweeks. Many schools went to shorter weeks to save money, too. Research from the nonprofit Rand Corporation showed this can save between 0% and 3% on annual budgets, from things like transportation and operational costs. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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