Trammeling Horizonte High School Scholarships

Janet Roberts- Business Administrator

Janet Roberts- Business Administrator

Earlier this week, I was made aware that Business Administrator Janet Roberts is overstepping her statutory bounds and in the process is disrespecting Horizonte Alternative High School’s site based decisions and challenging the authority of the Board of Education. I am calling upon newly hired Superintendent Cunningham to put Roberts in check and to immediately rectify this foolishness!

“In 1994, then-Horizonte Principal James Andersen and his wife, Shannon, along with Ric and Janet Harnsberger, physicians and University of Utah professors, established the Horizonte Scholarship Fund…For nearly 20 years, the Horizonte Scholarship Fund has provided as many as 60 scholarships each year, with individual awards ranging from $500 to $2,000, for a total of up to $57,000.”  [1]

In 2011, the following report was given to the Board of Education:

“The Horizonte Scholarship fund will award $80,000 in scholarships this year. Horizonte thanks Kimball Young for his hard work in securing twenty-four $1,500 scholarships for Horizonte graduates from the Eccles Foundation. SLCC received two grants to support Horizonte graduates with transition to college. Fifty seniors and 75 juniors will receive intensive counseling in an effort to prepare first generation college students for success.” [2]

In 2014 – Horizonte’s School Improvement Council and School Community Council decided to hire a full-time person to facilitate a student’s transition from Horizonte to continuing education due to the following: [3]

 “Every year, Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, an alternative high school in Salt Lake City awards college scholarships to dozens of graduates. And every year, many of those scholarships go unused. A new partnership between Horizonte and Salt Lake Community College helps grads stay the course and enroll in college, despite the obstacles.”  [4]

Another article at that times stated:

“An alternative high school has partnered with Salt Lake Community College to offer a multiple-week “bridge” class aimed at helping students with the transition to higher education…”The goal is to help them navigate the process and orient them to the rigors of college and give them a little taste of the environment,” said Kimball Young, a member of the Horizonte Scholarship Fund board of directors…The Horizonte Scholarship Fund awarded roughly $70,000 in aid to 47 students this year, with a focus on those from low-income families, he said. But Young said the bridge program is about more than just helping students with the costs of college. He said the program is intended to familiarize students with higher education as they approach the end of their high school education. “It’s not just a problem of affordability,” Young said. “It’s a problem of navigation, comfort, familiarity and ownership, so to speak, feeling like you’re part of something that is going to be rewarding for you when you graduate.” [5]

To that end, the District published a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Graduate Advisor Service and in September of 2014, published the following letter of intent:

“This letter is notification that it is the intent of the Salt Lake City School District to select Kimball Young as the single responsive and responsible respondent. As a result, the District will enter into a contract with Kimball Young to provide Graduate Advisor Services at Horizonte High School.”

The District then entered into a contractual agreement with Kimball Young to act as Horizonte’s Graduate Advisor Services. [6]

The Board of Education approved the funding for this contract on September 16, 2014, for the 2014-15 school year. [7]

Prior to being hired full-time, Mr. Young was working in a limited capacity as a volunteer with the Horizonte Scholarship program. Mr. Young tells his own story:

“I was introduced to Horizonte a decade ago.  The Salt Lake City Rotary Club annually awards college scholarships to graduating seniors of all four city high schools.  As a Rotarian, I volunteered for the Horizonte selection.  Over the years I’ve interviewed I have been deeply impressed by these amazing, determined, resilient, mostly minority, young men and women, some new parents, who realize that college education or post high school training is the exit from intergenerational poverty and the door to their American Dream…

Cancer and work related set-backs altered my life.  As I recovered my health and discovered some new pursuits, I continued on my own, to raise scholarship funds for these worthy but needy Horizonte graduates. …Secondly, education will break their chain of poverty.  They are first generation college students. Without education these students dream of, they are poverty bound.  No greater cause or campaign could I coordinate, build, and help perpetuate.   My life’s skills are uniquely situated to successfully assist.  My cumulative know-how and professional experience can help.   I invite your consideration and participation.” [8]

The following year, the Board authorized the $48,000.00 payment for the second year of the contract between Horizonte and Kimball Young for Graduate Advisor Services for the 2015-16 school year. [9]

Later that year, the Board of Education received the following report:

“Ms. Holmdahl said many of the students who graduate from Horizonte and move on to college are often the first in their families to do so. Horizonte offers a College Bridge class in partnership with Salt Lake Community College, to help prepare students for college, take advantage of scholarships, register for classes, and develop goals. Kimball Young, College/Career Transition Specialist.  [10]

Last month, the Board authorized the payment of $48,000.00 for the contract services between Horizonte and Kimball Young for Graduate Advisor Services for the 2016-17 School year. [11]

Earlier this week I was advised that Business Administrator Janet Roberts severed the contract between Kimball Young and Horizonte High School. The reason given is that the District is going to replace Kimball Young with a Community Scholarship Advisor. [12] The job posting states that this is a part-time job with no benefits. Apparently, The Business Administrator did this without notifying the Superintendent or the Board of Education. [13]

The Business Administrator is to “be custodian of all district funds, be responsible and accountable for all money received and disbursed, and keep accurate records of all revenues received and their sources;” and to “countersign with the president of the board all warrants and claims against the district as well as other legal documents approved by the board…” [14]

The Business Administrator is not the Human Resources Director and neither is she an educator. Ms. Roberts is appointed by the Board of Education and does not have the authority to override a site based decision. Ms. Roberts is a subordinate of the Board and must obediently carryout the official acts of the Board who are elected to represent the interests of the community.

I have called upon Superintendent Cunningham to rectify this situation and instruct the Business Administrator to perform her statutory duties and resume payments to Kimball Young for his contractual services.[15]

Anyone who has worked with Mr. Young or benefited from his services will readily testify that a part-time (or full-time for that matter) person will not even come close to matching the skill set that Mr. Young brings to this position.

We all need to ensure that we continue the vision of former Principal James Anderson:

“James has made Horizonte a touchstone and an icon for our community, and he knows that the success of Horizonte is because of the support the Salt Lake School Board, administration and community have given in putting students first. James leaves knowing his legacy will live on: a place where learning and individuals are cherished.” [16]



[1] Salt Lake City’s Alternative High School Boosts Students Into College –Salt Lake Tribune  06/08/13

[2] Salt Lake City Board of Education Meeting Minutes 04/25/11

[3] Written Agreement between the Salt Lake City Board of Education & The Salt Lake Education Association see Section 15.3 School Improvement Council

[4] Horizonte Grads Work to Put College Scholarships to Use KUER 05/30/14

[5] SLCC, Horizonte Partner to Bridge Gap Between High School, High Education –Deseret News 05/17/14

[6] Notice of Intent To Select 09/04/14

[7] Salt Lake City School District –Purchase Report 05/01/15


[9] Salt Lake City School District –Purchase Report 09/16/14

[10] Salt City School Board Meeting Minutes 12/15/15

[11] Salt Lake City School District –Purchase Report 08/02/16

[12] Community Scholarship Advisor – Job Announcement

[13] I am assuming the Superintendent was not aware because the Board has made it clear that she is not to do any type of organizational restructuring without the express authorization of the Board.

[14] Duties of Business Administrator –Utah Code 53A-3-303

[15] Michael Clara email to Superintendent Cunningham 09/15/16

[16] James Anderson Leaves a Legacy of Learning for All to Follow – John Florez, Deseret News 11/15/10

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