The calendar may say we’re headed into the month in which we celebrate presidents and valentines, but it’s also time to start thinking about where your preschool-age kiddo could go to preschool in the fall. 

Don’t underestimate the power of play when looking for a preschool for your child, says Terri Mitchell, the Programs Administrator in Canyons District’s Early Childhood Department. “Playtime is amazingly important. It’s one of the best tools that young children have to grow and develop,” Mitchell recently told ABC4 anchor Emily Clark on “Good Morning Utah.”  

In fact, Mitchell said, research shows strong links between creative and imaginative play and language, physical, cognitive and social development. “In preschool, they are learning foundational skills. They will learn patterning, and the quantity of numbers,” Mitchell said. “They also have the opportunity to learn socially.  It may be the first time that they are away from mom and dad and grandma and grandpa.”

As is tradition in Canyons District, robust preschool programs will be provided to the community in the 2018-2019 school year. On Thursday, Feb. 1, CSD will begin accepting applications for spots at preschools at Altara, Bella Vista, Butler, Edgemont, Jordan Valley, Oakdale, Quail Hollow and Willow Springs elementary schools.  Interested? Click here to see the application.

Canyons preschools follow a curriculum that lines up with the core standards of learning at the kindergarten level. This is so that the children who leave preschool have the foundation to meet the challenges of kindergarten. Also, students will be paired in classrooms with students who require special-education services so they can serve as peers and role models in language and social skills 

Cost is $100 per month for students attending two days per week and $200 a month for students attending four days. There’s also a one-time $20 registration fee. Availability for the program in the coming academic year is based on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Morning sessions are from 8:20-10:50 a.m. Afternoon sessions are 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.  

In addition, free school programs are provided at Title I schools. Students who turn 4 years old before Sept. 1, 2018, and live within the boundaries of Midvale, Copperview, Sandy and East Midvale elementary schools can apply to participate. CSD will being taking applications for spots in those preschools on March 1.
Fourteen more Canyons District athletes have been presented Academic All-State Awards this year for excelling in sports while maintaining high grade point averages.

The awards are announced each sports season by the Utah High School Activities Association with this latest round going to students involved in basketball, drill team, swimming and wrestling. To date, this brings to 39 the total number of CSD honorees in 2017-2018.

The following awardees boast a combined grade point average (GPA) of 3.999:

5A Girls Basketball
Sidney Kaufmann, Brighton
Macy Raddon, Brighton
Nicole Critchfield, Corner Canyon
Hannah Sanderson, Corner Canyon
Peyton Naylor, Jordan

6A Boys Basketball
Bassel Tekarli, Hillcrest

5A Boys Basketball
Adam Christensen, Brighton

5A Drill Team

Alexis Kilgore, Corner Canyon

5A Girls Swimming
Olivia Huntzinger, Brighton
Michaela Page, Brighton
Ashley Pickford, Corner Canyon

5A Boys Swimming
Stephen Hood, Alta
Kevin Metcalf, Jordan

6A Wrestling
Richard Abbott, Hillcrest
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Purchase of Property for Hillcrest High Rebuild


The Board of Education approved the purchase of property at 7230 S. 900 East to increase the parking capacity at Hillcrest High during the scheduled rebuild funded by the voter-approved $283 million bond. Business Administrator Leon Wilcox told the Board the redesign of the campus will improve the traffic flow for the entire campus, but especially to the football stadium and gymnasium. The sale price of the 1.76 acres is $1.5 million, which is less than the appraised value. Board member Mont Millerberg advocated for the purchase of the land to enhance the safety of the access points to the high school. 

County Boundary Change

Salt Lake and Utah counties have agreed to a change in their boundaries that will impact student enrollment in Canyons District. The change was necessary to remedy a jurisdictional problem created by the fact that the county line previously cut through several Draper-area properties. Under the redrawn line, Salt Lake County will exchange some vacant land for a residentially-zoned area that has been slated for development. Because Canyons District’s boundaries are contiguous with Salt Lake County’s boundaries, the District expects to eventually inherit about 175 new homes. 

Sixth-Grade Math Curriculum

To boost student achievement, a curriculum committee of math teachers is recommending that Canyons adopt a new sixth-grade math curriculum: Illustrative Mathematics. An open source educational resource developed by leading researchers, Illustrative Mathematics is available digitally for free, with exception to student workbooks that can be purchased for $22.50 apiece. This particular platform is more rigorous and aligns with state standards and evidenced-based instructional practices, explained Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward. The Board will vote on the proposal at a future meeting. If approved, the new curriculum would be implemented in time for the 2018-2019 school year.

Cell Tower

The Board held a first reading of a proposal for a micro cell tower at Ridgecrest Elementary that would generate $350 per month in annual revenues for the school.  The tower was unanimously approved by the school’s School Community Council, which recommended it be approved by the Board. It would be placed atop a 20-foot light pole in Ridgecrest’s parking lot in compliance with Cottonwood Heights City ordinances. The Board will vote on the matter at a future meeting.

Graduation Rates

More CSD students are taking and passing Advanced Placement exams through which they can earn early college credit. In 2017, 2,737 of CSD’s high school seniors took AP exams, a 56 percent increase from 2010. Pass rates, or the number of students to earn a score of 3,4, or 5 on the exam, rose to 70 percent in 2017. That compares to average pass rates of 67 percent in Utah and 68 percent nationally. Canyons District’s graduation rate also continues to improve. Eighty-six percent of all high school seniors received a diploma in the spring of 2017. That’s up from 85 percent in 2016 and 83 percent in 2014, explained Research and Assessment Director Dr. Hal Sanderson. CSD’s graduation rate tracks the state’s, but such a comparison is complicated by the fact that Canyons has strict graduation requirements. CSD has a 28-credit diploma whereas most districts require 27 credits. Most districts, including CSD, also offer a reduced, 24-credit diploma option.

 
Patron Comment

Lone Peak parent Nicole Ellis thanked the Board for working quickly to address the cooling system at the elementary school.  In November, she urged the Board to consider fixing the chiller because of the heat in classrooms.

Patron Steve Van Maren asked whether Canyons allowed political signage on its property. He also inquired about the potential purchase of land to accommodate the Hillcrest High rebuild. He urged the Board to make the school’s footprint smaller and reconsider work on the athletic fields. 

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the majority of the items on the consent agenda, including the minutes of the Board’s Dec. 5, 2017 meeting of the Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; November Financial Reports; December Financial Reports and a LAND Trust Amendment for Oak Hollow Elementary. After some questions, in a separate motion, the Board approved proposed student travel and a proposed minimal tuition increase for preschool students.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe reported on attending farewell receptions for Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini, Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, and Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore. All three were instrumental in the creation of the District.  He also recognized 1st Board Vice President Nancy Tingey, who has served for the past year as the Utah School Boards Association President.  He said. USBA’s recent conference was a success, thanks to her leadership. 

Wilcox congratulated Mrs. Tingey on her successful year as the USBA President and noted that Mrs. Amber Shill, 2nd Vice President, has earned another leadership position in the Utah High School Activities Association.  He thanked Dr. Hal Sanderson for his presentation on graduation rates and AP take- and pass-rates. He said the first $49 million in bond issuances will be sold tomorrow.  The Board will be updated as soon as the District knows the terms of the sale. 

Board of Education Member Reports

Mr. Chad Iverson thanked Dr. Sanderson for his presentation. He also reported on attending a holiday concert at Indian Hills Middle, which is now housed at the old Crescent View building, and reflected on how nice it will be next year to be in the renovated Indian Hills Middle.  The new IHMS opens in the fall. 

Mrs. Clareen Arnold reported on attending the most recent District incident-command meetings. Arnold remarked on the plans being put in place to prevent a hepatitis A outbreak. She also commented on discussions about how to improve communication in an emergency. She also expressed appreciation for Dr. Sanderson’s study-session presentation. Mrs. Arnold also thanked Mrs. Tingey and Mrs. Shill for representing the district on various boards and committees. 

Mrs. Tingey thanked her fellow Board members for the support she’s been extended during her time as USBA president. She reported on attending Brighton, Park Lane and Brookwood School Community Council meetings. She also reported on attending farewell receptions for outgoing mayors. Tingey also congratulated schools on successful completion of emergency drills. 

Mrs. Shill reported on attending the Brighton High SCC meeting at which architects presented preliminary plans for the new school. She invited the public to Open Houses when plans for the new campus are formalized. She congratulated on Tingey on a successful year as the USBA leader.  In addition, she congratulated the CSD schools that were in the top 20 in the state school-grading system.

Mr. Steve Wrigley said he attended Jordan High’s SCC meeting, as well as a speech at Alta High by a Pulitzer Prize winner.  He also discussed the efforts the District is making to provide supports to special-education classrooms.  Wrigley also reported on attending classes at the Utah School Boards Association Conference.

Mr. Mont Millerberg praised the quality of classes and organization of the USBA conference. He expressed appreciation to Hillcrest High Greg Leavitt for his work on the designs for the new high school. He also reported on attending the holiday performing event at Copperview Elementary, the District’s incident-command meetings, and the Student Advisory Council meetings. 

President Sherril Taylor thanked Principal Brian McGill for his dedication to the suicide-prevention efforts at the high school. He congratulated Mrs. Tingey for her successful year as the president of USBA. Taylor said she made USBA better.  He congratulated Mrs. Shill on her position in the Utah High School Activities Association. He expressed appreciation to Board members for their hard work.  He said Canyons is achieving its goal of being a world-class district.
Kids spend a lot of time in school, and parents understandably want that time to be spent learning, and not taking tests. But how much of the school year is actually devoted to test-taking?

With that question in mind, Canyons District’s Research and Assessment Director Hal Sanderson recently performed an audit that revealed students spend between 1.2 percent to 2.7 percent of instruction time taking state and district assessments. By comparison, at one of CSD's elementary schools, recess accounts for 4.5 percent of the year, 12 percent is devoted to lunch and math instruction occupies 27.3 percent of the year.

The audit sheds some light on subject of over-testing, and calls into question commonly-held concerns about excessive testing. But there are limitations to the survey. This audit applies only to Canyons School District. Though all Utah school districts participate in state year-end assessments, district-level tests vary in form and scope. The audit also doesn’t measure the amount of time teachers spend incrementally testing students’ knowledge every day in their classrooms.

Teachers are constantly assessing their students’ progress and learning – even if they’re just calling upon students to furnish an answer to a math problem, says Instructional Supports Director Amber Roderick-Landward. “When done well, testing doesn’t distract from instruction, it’s an integral part of instruction.”

The amount of time devoted to testing has increased over the past few years, but will decline this year due to changes in the SAGE writing exam, and the consolidation of some district tests. With these changes, testing time will fall back in line with 2015 levels.

The audit was featured by KSL Radio and the Deseret News.

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Five Reasons Why
Assessments Matter


Canyons School District believes assessments, when appropriately administered and used, provide parents, teachers and administrators with important information about how a child is progressing.

1. Taking tests is a part of life. Whether it’s gaining entrance to college or passing the driver’s license exam, people take tests throughout their life.

2. Formative tests throughout the year help teachers see what is working, or not working, for students. Based on testing data, teachers can make adjustments in their instruction, such as taking extra time with specific topics or finding new ways to explain the content.

3. Year-end summative assessments, such as the SAGE exam, measure whether a student is on the path to college- and career-readiness. SAGE, which is administered in grades 3-10, is a gauge of whether students are meeting educational standards. These tests can help determine course placement. They can also assist the District and local school in directing resources to groups of students who need more support and determine if improvement strategies are working.

4. Testing can motivate students. Year-end exams are not the only measure of a student’s performance, but as one measure, they can help students take charge of their learning. In fact, when middle school students do their best on SAGE, their scores can predict how well they'll do on the ACT college entrace exam in high school. We know this because historically, CSD's students SAGE scores have closely correlated with their ACT scores. SAGE exams, in other words, are a low-stakes opportunity to see how a student will do on a high-stakes exam in a low-stakes environment. 

5. Year-end testing helps schools direct resources. Test results help educators, parents, and policymakers direct limited resources toward preparing all students for the rigors of college and careers.
Alta High Principal Brian McGill on Saturday received an award for leading his school’s efforts to prevent suicides, reduce instances of bullying, and maintain a safe learning environment by carefully monitoring and following up on tips sent via the SafeUT mobile app.

McGill received the honor at the Utah Suicide Awareness Summit, held at Murray High School. The Champion of SafeUT Award, given by the Utah State Office of Education, was presented by Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley, and Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy. 

In accepting the award, McGill said that, as a principal, “there’s never a tougher week” than when a school community is mourning the suicide death of a student. He said the state-funded SafeUT mobile app, which gives students immediate, all-day-and-all-night access to school staff and counselors at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, has proven effective in reaching struggling students and aiding worried parents.

“This has been a great utility for Alta High,” he said, adding that he personally spent time over Winter Recess assisting a student who used the app to ask for help getting through a bout of depression.“We have had tips come in all the time.”

McGill said Alta’s administrative and counseling teams take care to investigate all the tips sent through the app.

“As an institution of learning, there is no more important work than to help our kids meet the highest academic benchmarks. That said, the proper social emotional supports need to also be in place and working in collaboration with effective teaching in order for kids to self-actualize,” he said. “The mental health needs of our kids in school has never been more great, as outlined this morning at the summit. I will continue to keep that commitment as a high priority for our kids at Alta.”

Cox, who spoke to Saturday attendees of the summit, said “what you are doing today is a very big deal … we are here to save lives.”

The SafeUT mobile app can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play.

Canyons was among the first districts in Utah to roll out access to SafeUT, which also provides an avenue for students to submit anonymous safety tips.
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