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PM News Brief: Remote Fridays for Canyons schools, Salt Lake County mayor’s $15 minimum wage & Davis School District settles over racial harassment

Asian boy student video conference e-learning with teacher and classmates on computer in living room at home.
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The Canyons School District in Salt Lake County is temporarily returning to remote-only Fridays starting Nov. 5. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, Oct. 21, 2021

Northern Utah

Davis School District reaches settlement over racial harassment

The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a settlement with Utah’s Davis School District over racial discrimination and harassment. The investigation began in July 2019 and revealed years of harassment directed at Black and Asian students by both staff and other students. The school district failed to respond to the incidents. There were hundreds of documented instances of using the N-word, other derogatory racial comments and physical assaults. The investigation also found the school disciplined Black students more harshly than their white classmates. As part of the settlement, the district must create a department to handle complaints of racial discrimination. It must also train staff, students and parents on identifying and reporting race-based harassment, among other steps. — Caroline Ballard

Mayor wants a $15 minimum wage for Salt Lake County employees

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson is proposing a pay increase for all county employees. Wilson presented her 2022 budget proposal to the County Council Thursday. Under her plan, all permanent full-time staff would earn at least $15 per hour and all temporary employees would make that same amount by 2024. Salaried employees would get a 2% pay increase. Her total proposed budget is $1.5 billion — a more than a 12% increase over last year's budget. Among other items in the budget are COVID-19 vaccine outreach, affordable housing and a jail release program. The Salt Lake County Council still needs to vote on the proposed budget. — Martha Harris

Remote Fridays for Canyons School District

The Canyons School District in Salt Lake County is temporarily returning to remote-only Fridays starting Nov. 5. Many schools across the state used remote days last year to help with teacher preparation. The district said they are needed again because teachers are still reporting high rates of stress and exhaustion and there are limited support staff and substitutes available to help. Students are expected to use the time for independent study — not sports or performing arts practice. Teachers can use the time to hold office hours, collaborate with other teachers and create lessons and intervention plans. — Jon Reed

Southern Utah

St. George water savings — despite continued growth

St. George residents cut water usage by more than 8% over the summer compared to last year. Officials said this happened while the city also added nearly 2,000 new water connections. About half of the city’s culinary water is used outdoors, and leaders have pushed for residents to cut down on watering their lawns. Scott Taylor, the city’s water services director, said as the area continues to grow, conservation is key. He said cities in Washington County are currently working on ordinances to put restrictions on landscaping on all new developments. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

National Park Service could soon have first Indigenous leader

Charles Sams is on track to become the nation’s first Indigenous leader of the National Park Service after facing lawmakers during a committee hearing this week. He told members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that one of his top concerns for the agency was understaffing. The park service has lost about 20% of its employees over the past decade. At the end of the hearing, committee chair Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he was confident that senators on both sides of the aisle would vote to confirm Sams. The committee hasn’t set a date yet for that vote. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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