Under Utah law, students who wish to attend a school other than their neighborhood school—the one assigned to them by geographic boundaries—may apply for a transfer by submitting an Open Enrollment request.

In Canyons District, families are able to submit these forms online from the comfort of their home or office using our Online Permit Portal. For the 2019-2020 school year, the window for applying for the school-choice permits opens Saturday, Dec. 1 and closes on Friday, Feb. 15. 

School transfers are approved when space is available and on a first-come, first-served basis. Paper permits are no longer available.

Once a school administrator approves a transfer permit, the permit will renew automatically every year thereafter as long as the student remains at the same school and their permit is not revoked. Permits must be renewed when a student advances from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school.

To guide families through the process, the Department of Planning and Enrollment has created tutorials in English, Spanish, and French. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the Department’s website. The Main Office at your local school also is a good resource for information.
Barry Johnson’s second-period science class has fallen silent. The lights are dimmed and the students are all sitting forward and upright in their chairs with their feet on the floor and eyes closed.

The only sound that can be heard is the soothing voice of a woman who is inviting the class to take a few moments —eight minutes, to be exact—to “just be right here” as the students “breathe in and breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.”

In today’s hyper-connected, always-on world, eight minutes is a long time for anyone to sit still with their thoughts, let alone an entire classroom of energetic preteens (try it sometime). But these digital natives have been practicing, taking up to 10 minutes every other day to disconnect and clear their heads as part of a mindfulness program being implemented at Albion Middle and a handful of other Canyons District schools.

Albion has only been doing morning mindfulness practices for about a month, but early results are promising. Already, teachers are observing fewer behavioral problems and signs of anxiety and stress in their students, which they say, helps learning happen more efficiently. “Teachers also are feeling the benefits as many practice mindfulness with their students,” says Albion counselor Cathy Nelson.mindfulness

What is mindfulness? There is no single definition, which is why it has been difficult for scientists to put reported benefits to the rigorous test of randomized clinical trials. But in the trials that have been done, mindfulness-type attention training has been shown to change the brain activity of depressed patients and reduce perceived feelings of stress. And there are plenty of observational studies suggesting mindfulness also helps with impulse control, empathy, attention and focus, resilience, productivity, and stress and pain management.

With rates of teen anxiety and depression on the rise, schools are looking for ways to support the social-emotional needs of students, and mindfulness is something that’s being explored by classrooms across the country, says Canyons District counseling coordinator Tori Gillett. “Students can’t learn when they’re overwhelmed and this gives them coping mechanisms for dealing with emotional stressors. It primes their brains for learning and trying hard things.” 

As it’s typically practiced, mindfulness is about being present in each moment, and creating a relaxed and aware state of mind while noticing thoughts and feelings without judgement.

Canyons District’s schools use a grant-funded program called Inner Explorer, a series of pre-recorded, age-appropriate guided meditation practices that teachers play in their classrooms following the school’s morning announcements. Some students more actively participate than others, but all are asked to be quiet and respectful.

Each day’s recording starts with taking stock of your breathing and noticing how your body feels. Often, there are even a few academic lessons thrown into the mix.

“Consider the importance of breathing,” the disembodied voice encourages Johnson’s class. “As you breathe in and out, consider how we can live more than 50 days without food, and about seven days without water. But we can only live about five minutes without breathing in and breathing out.”

The recording goes on to discuss belly breathing and the vagus nerve, which runs from our brain stem to our stomach and controls the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. “As you breathe in through your nose, breathe slowly to the count of five, and as you breathe out, breathe slowly to the count of 10 through a small opening in your mouth. Your exhale will be longer than your inhale, and this is what stimulates the vagus nerve and the relaxation response,” the voice prompts.

One or two of the students fidget and seem bored. But most sit quietly the entire eight minutes and report feeling “calm” and “relaxed” afterward. They describe the experience as rewarding and say they like starting the day this way.

Johnson has even used some of the strategies he’s learned at home with his own children. “It has really helped reduce anxiety and build focus,” he says, “and like anything else we do in school, the students get better at it with practice.” 

Tips for Surviving the Holiday Blues

Tidings of comfort and joy? Not for all of us. The holiday blues are a real phenomenon, though they don’t manifest as you might think. It’s a common myth, for example, that suicide rates spike during the holidays when, in fact, the wintersafeUTsmall months usually have the fewest daily suicides, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.  Nevertheless, changes in the weather, family schedules, obligations and expectations can make November, December and January a tough time for some of us, inspiring stress and feelings of loneliness, instead of warmth and cheer. The good news is that the holiday blues don’t generally last long, and there’s help for those whose sadness lingers. Just as Canyons District is concerned with the physical safety and health of students, our schools also work to fortify the social-emotional needs of children. Psychologists, social workers and counselors are assigned to every school to support students and families throughout the school year. Canyons District’s Department of Responsive Services also maintains an online library of tips and tools for parents and educators about a range of topics from suicide and drug and alcohol prevention to tips on talking to kids about traumatic events (see links below). Finally, if you know of someone who is in crisis and needs immediate help, you can report it through the anonymous and confidential mobile tipline SafeUT. The app, which provides all-day and all-night access to school administrators and licensed clinicians at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, is available to all Canyons school communities. Users can submit a tip with a picture and/or video and communicate online or call by phone. For the community's ease, here are links to places students and parents can download the app: Click here for Google Play and click here to find the app in iTunes. 

Bullying Prevention Tips
Suicide Prevention
Drug and Alcohol Prevention Resources
Preventing Gang Involvement
Crisis Prevention and Intervention

Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Utah College Application Week

Counseling Coordinator Tori Gillett updated the Board of Education on the events surrounding the 2018 Utah College Application Week, Nov. 5-9, five days dedicated to encouraging CSD high school seniors to submit at least one viable college application. Last week, Gillett said, 1,156 CSD students finished and submitted at least one application to a college or university. Nearly 300 additional students had already sent in an application. Some $5,000 of a $10,000 monetary pledge from the Canyons Education Foundation to help low-income students cover the costs of application fees had been used. In addition, two students from Jordan High’s Latinos in Action program thanked the Board for its support of UCAW. Luis Alvarez, LIA co-president, said he was making his immigrant parents’ dreams come true by setting his sights on attending to college. During UCAW, he applied to Salt Lake Community College and Utah State University. Uritze Juerta, also a daughter of immigrants, said she applied to SLCC, Southern Utah University, and Utah Valley University. Thanks to help from Jordan High’s staff, she was able to finish an application in 30 minutes. UCAW opens the door, she said, for students to start thinking actively about attending college. Gillett also presented information about how CSD middle schools are preparing students to start thinking about post-secondary education.

Turnaround School Update

Turnaround school Midvale Elementary has made progress academically and behaviorally, according to information presented to the Board of Education.The school has been focused on improvements since a beginning-of-the-school-year restructure to improve teaching and learning, increase social-emotional supports, and further engage the community. Midvale Mayor Robert Hales said the partnership with United Way is key to addressing some of the needs in the community that impact education. He also thanked the Board and the Administration for focusing on the academics and the facilities of the schools in the Hillcrest feeder. Midvale Elementary Principal Chip Watts said the attendance, life-trauma and social-emotional needs, which often present barriers to achievement, are addressed by the plan. Discipline referrals are down significantly, he said, and to date, tardies have been reduced by more than 9,000 compared to last year. Ninety-two parent contacts have been made regarding student attendance, and 31 students have received one-on-one chronic absenteeism interventions. Academically, the school, which has made 107 student-home visits, also is seeing increased levels of achievement. By May, he said, 60 percent of Midvale students will have made the expected level of growth or better in reading fluency as measured by the progress assessment called DIBELS.  Midvale students also are expected to meet or exceed growth benchmarks in mathematics, Watts said.  He said the school is excited about the trajectory that’s being seen in student-achievement data.  The Board of Education also was asked to present recommendations by December to the Utah State Board of Education about how Midvale Elementary is addressing its turnaround status.

Mathematics Program Adoption

The Board approved a proposal to adopt Illustrative Mathematics for seventh- and eighth-grade students and Mathematics Vision Project for ninth- through 12th-grade students. The cost to implement both programs is less than if the district opted to maintain the traditional hard-bound mathematics textbooks, and the texts are closely aligned to Utah’s Core State Standards. Canyons will implement the programs in a phased rollout.

Midvale-Schools Partnership

Student Advocacy and Access Director Karen Sterling updated the Board on progress with Canyons District’s Community Schools. The Community Schools model is one that strives to bring multiple resources to bear on the success of students in the Hillcrest High feeder system. The schools partner with non-profit organizations—including the United Way of Greater Salt Lake, Utah Food Bank, PLAYWorks, and Boys and Girls Clubs of South Valley—to link students and their families with community supports, welfare programs, and health and behavioral professionals. Participation numbers serve as important progress indicators:  260 youth are served in afterschool tutoring; more than 150 youth each year are being served in prekindergarten classrooms; 818 youth are involved, on average, in an afterschool summer program annually; more than 500 students take advantage of Care Team supports each year; and 210 youth are seen by a clinical therapist through school-based services. In addition, parent volunteerism has exploded at the Community Schools with 730 parents and caregivers contributing 1,353 hours of volunteer time one school year.

Academic Calendars

Office of Planning and Enrollment Director Dr. Floyd Stensrud presented proposed academic-year calendars for 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022. The Board will consider the proposed calendars in future meetings.

Land TRUST Plans

LAND Trust Plans for the 2017-2018 school year have been finalized, reported Community Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards. All CSD schools were at or below the 10 percent funds-carryover regulation, she said, and the schools also made expected or appropriate growth toward their academic goals as part of their school-improvement plans.

Policy Update

Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen presented proposed updates to the Board on policies governing student dress codes and student automobile use. The Board took the proposals under advisement. The Board also approved updates to policies about Tax Increment Financing Project Agreements, Work-Based Learning Programs, the development and dissemination of questionnaires and surveys, and the use of eye protection.


A Canyons District employee and the following students were recognized by the Board for their achievements:

  • Corner Canyon High’s boys cross country team, the 5A state champions
  • Corner Canyon High’s mountain biking team, first-place state winners
  • Hillcrest High theatre department, the sweepstakes winner at the Utah High School Shakespeare competition
  • Twenty-five student athletes who earned Academic All-State honors
  • CSD’s homeless student liaison Connie Crosby, recipient of the Utah School Counselors Human Rights Award
Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the minutes from the Oct. 16, 2018 meeting of the Board; hiring and termination reports; purchasing bids; requests for overnight student travel, and October financial reports.

Pledge of Allegiance, Reverence

Girl Scout Troop 2483 presented the American and state of Utah flags and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Butler Elementary Principal Jeff Nalwalker said his deployment as a soldier in Afghanistan gave him a newfound gratitude for the support schools receive in the United States. He said he met a teacher there who had not been paid in several months because of the war. Nalwalker also remarked on his Pac-Man-themed suit, a smaller version of which was worn by a Butler Elementary student for Halloween. He said such students inspire him to work hard every day as an instructional and community leader.  He said the faculty and staff at Butler Elementary, a French-English Dual Language Immersion school, are working hard to gain similar achievement levels as schools with similar student body demographics.   

Patron Comments

President Taylor introduced Amanda Oaks, who won election to District No. 6 on the Board of Education. She succeeds Taylor, who has held the seat since the District’s inception. 

Midvale Middle math department chair Deborah Delliskave spoke in favor of the proposed Illustrative Mathematics program for middle school students. Three other Midvale Middle teachers joined Delliskave at the podium in support of the program.

Patrick Oviatt, a seventh-grader at Midvale Middle who is in Delliskave’s class, spoke in favor of the Illustrative mathematics program. 

Sara Moeinvaziri also is taught by Delliskave at Midvale Middle. She said she never enjoyed mathematics until this year, and said it’s largely because of the mathematics program being taught in the class.

Leydie Reynog, a seventh-grade student at Midvale Middle, spoke in favor of Illustrative Mathematics.

Midvale Middle student Callie Schroeder spoke in favor of the proposed Illustrative Mathematics program.

Edward Loh, a Midvale Middle student, spoke in favor of the proposed Illustrative Mathematics program.

Butler Middle teacher Lisa Boyce, who piloted two units of Illustrative Mathematics, spoke in favor of the program.

Sarah Goodfellow spoke in favor of the District continuing the practice of allowing dual-enrollment in high schools.

Parent Justin Albrecht also spoke in favor of dual-enrollment in Canyons District schools.

Parent Scott Tasker, in response to a question from the Board, responded that he’d been told by an administrative assistant at CSD’s central office that dual-immersion students would no longer be able to be dual-enrolled at high schools. Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe clarified that no proposal is being considered by the Board of Education. 

Midvale Middle student Krithika Parsawar spoke in favor of Illustrative Mathematics.

Resident Paul Godot, who aids the mathematics teachers at Eastmont, spoke in favor of Illustrative Mathematics.

Ten-Year Anniversary Sub-Committee

The Board of Education created a committee f Board and staff members to spearhead the celebration of the District’s 10-year anniversary. Canyons District was founded on July 1, 2009.  

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said he appreciated the conversation surrounding the adoption of the new mathematics program. He congratulated the high schools for staging successful and entertaining fall musicals. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox reported on the upcoming closing on $75 million in bond issuances to pay for the construction of new schools. He also reminded employees about the $500 bonus they will receive on the second November paycheck.  The bonus is part of the negotiated agreements for the contract year.

Board Members Reports

Mr. Mont Millerberg reported on attending meetings at Midvale Middle and Midvale Elementary that gave him previews on the results of the elementary school’s turnaround efforts and the middle school’s use of the Illustrative Math program. He also reported on attending the Canyons Education Foundation’s delivery of Innovation Grants, the USBA regional meeting, and the Student Advisory Council’s meeting. 

Ms. Amber Shill reported on attending an assessment conference in Arizona with middle school principals and the Instructional Supports Department. She attended Brighton High’s production of “The Addams Family,” a speech by the Danish ambassador, a Reality Town activity, and the student advisory council. She thanked the community for the support during the election.

Mrs. Nancy Tingey said she attended Veterans Day activities, a subcontractors meeting for the rebuild of Brighton High, and Brighton and Jordan high fall musicals, “The Addams Family” and “Pirates of Penzance.”

Ms. Clareen Arnold plans to attend “Hairspray” at Hillcrest, and attended “Pirates of Penzance” at Jordan High. She commended schools for holding Veterans Day activities to honor soldiers for their service, and thanked staff for holding Utah College Application Week events.

Mr. Chad Iverson attended the state cross-country meet, marching band competitions, and the Parent Meeting at Draper Park regarding the school schedule. He congratulated Board members on their re-elections, and thanked his Board colleagues for engaging in robust discussions on agenda items. 

President Taylor expressed confidence in Oaks in her new role on the Board. He expressed his admiration for all the members of the Board. He thanked Dr. Roderick-Landward for the mathematics-curriculum proposal presentation and the Sandy Police officers for providing security during Board meeting.
Planning a family trip for the holidays? Hoping to squeeze in a few extra days of vacation the week before or after Winter Recess?

‘Tis the season for reconnecting with faraway friends and family, and the timing of your travel plans can influence the cost of plane tickets and hotel stays. But keep in mind the costs to your children’s education when they miss too much school.

Canyons District’s schools will be open, our teachers will be teaching, and our students will be learning right up until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the start of the winter break on Thursday Dec. 20—and we’ll waste no time starting up again after the New Year.

“When it comes to keeping kids on track academically, every day of instruction counts,” says Canyons District Responsive Services Administrator Colleen Smith who is working with schools to spread awareness of the hazards of absenteeism. “We don’t begrudge students the learning opportunity of traveling to new places. But absences tend to soar around the holidays, and families often don’t realize how quickly they can add up.”

Missing just a few days here and there can contribute to elementary students falling behind in reading, writing and math, a growing body of research shows. For example, four out of five students who miss two days per month, or 10 percent, of kindergarten and first grade are unable to read on-level by the third grade. By the sixth-grade, excessive absenteeism is a warning sign of a student not graduating from high school.

Put simply, too many absences—even excused absences—at any age can harm a student’s chances for academic success, Smith says. This year, Canyons District is encouraging students to “Be Great, Miss Less than Eight,” and schools will be finding creative ways to encourage good attendance habits, and reward students for coming to school every day, on time and ready to learn. 

Think your child’s school has avoided the naughty list? Think again. Last year, 7,111 students districtwide—21 percent—were chronically absent, or missed at least 10 percent of the school year. Zero in on individual schools, and you’ll find instances where as many as 32 percent of the students were chronically absent, says Instructional Specialist Jonathan Stewart, noting there are hotspots of absenteeism in every corner of the District.

Hitting the 10 percent mark is easier to do than it sounds, says Stewart. “That’s the equivalent of skipping just one day every other week.”

A bout with the flu, a midday doctor’s appointment, and extended family vacation can easily put a student over the threshold for the term, Stewart says. “We have had terms (quarters or semesters) where nearly half an entire school was chronically absent.”

And while such spikes may be an anomaly, large numbers of students missing class can affect the pace of instruction for the entire classroom, Stewart says. “It can really slow things down, creating extra work for the teacher and a missed opportunity to advance for the other students.”

What can parents do? Smith says it’s important to set firm expectations early in the school year, and early in a child’s educational career, and to be consistent in enforcing them.

“Sometimes life gets in the way. There will always be unforeseen illnesses and family emergencies—even rare special occasions—that pull kids from school,” Smith says. “But children, even teenagers, take cues from their parents, and it’s important to let them know that in school, work and life, showing up is important. It really comes down to establishing a daily routine, and reinforcing for your children how much you value an education.”

Attendance Tips for Parents
  • Let your children know that you think showing up for school every day is important.
  • Take an interest in your child’s school work and be involved in school activities.
  • Post the school calendar somewhere prominently in the home.
  • Establish a routine and healthy school-night habits, such as getting to bed early and reading before bed, instead of watching TV.
  • Set the morning alarm early enough to provide students ample time to get dressed and eat breakfast.
  • Support your children in getting to school on time: Give them a ride if they’re running late or they miss the bus, or arrange to carpool with other families.
  • Try to schedule doctor and dental appointments after school.
Denmark isn’t a socialist utopia where everything is free, as Bernie Sanders is wont to describe it. Nor is it an example of the pitfalls of socialism as portrayed in a recent White House report that compared Denmark’s standard of living to that of Venezuela.

In fact, the Nordic country isn’t socialist at all, Denmark’s Ambassador to the United States Lars Gert Lose explained to a group of Brighton High students on Friday. “We are a social-democratic country.”

It’s a nuance that may be tough to describe on a bumper sticker, or in 140 characters or less, but it wasn’t lost on the Model UN and Advanced Placement students who gathered in Brighton’s auditorium to hear Lose speak. The Ambassador’s appearance was arranged by social studies teacher Jim Hodges through Brigham Young University’s Kennedy Center.  The Kennedy Center sponsors several ambassadorial visits each year, and arranges to have the dignitaries meet with as many student groups as possible. danishsmall

At Brighton, Lose spoke of life as a diplomat and of Denmark’s long and valued ties to the United States. The two countries may not agree on everything, he said, but “there’s much more that binds us together than separates us.”

Denmark’s diplomatic relationship with America dates back to 1801 due, in part, to historically large Danish migration to this country. Economically, the two countries are important to one another. “The U.S. is the third largest market for Danish companies, bigger than France or the UK,” Lose said. And the two regions share common foreign security philosophies with their investments in military defense.

Culturally and politically the two countries may sometimes seem worlds apart, but the distinctions aren’t as black-and-white as is commonly thought. Among the surprising facts that Lose shared:
  • Denmark is part of the European Union but has its own currency.
  • The country has a democratic political system and free and open-market economy, but also could be described as a welfare state due to its government-funded health care, higher education, and robust social supports.
  • The vast majority of Danes are affiliated with trade unions because the government doesn’t regulate employment standards, such as setting a minimum wage. Liberal employment regulations also make it easier to hire and fire workers who can always fall back on the country’s safety net, creating more job mobility. But unemployment is low, and currently at about 3.6 percent, and productivity high. 
  • Lose described his homeland as a “very pragmatic and compromising country” with nine political parties in Parliament that have had to learn to work together in order to get work done.
Of course, the Danes devote nearly have their wages to income tax. Social supports “come at a price,” Lose said, “but it’s true that we have a great quality of life.”

Denmark’s foreign policy priorities include the fight against terror and climate change. The country began innovating in the area of renewable energy in the 1970s in response to an oil crisis. Renewable energy sources now meet half of the country’s energy needs, Lose said.

The country also would like to see free-trade alliances and agreements preserved. There’s nothing wrong with Trump Administration’s America-first stance, Lose said. “We have a Denmark-first policy as well.” Lose also agreed that the World Trade Organization has allowed China to compete unfairly.

But Lose questioned the logic of “blowing up” fair-trade rules and structures in an effort to improve them. “That won’t play well in the long-term. Look at Utah. I think 25 percent of all jobs here are dependent on global trade,” he said. “The point is how you pursue America’s interests. Playing a zero-sum game and having to win every single time, makes it difficult to find compromise.”

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