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The student voice can be heard loud and clear in the Canyons District.

To the end of creating a direct avenue for student input, the Canyons Board of Education has empaneled a Student Advisory Council made up of representatives from all five of Canyons’ traditional high schools.

This is the fifth year a council of Canyons students has been selected to serve in this capacity.

The members of the council, who were introduced during the meeting of the Board on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, were chosen through an application process.  They will meet at least six times throughout the year for leadership training, discussions with senior staff members of the District, and to give feedback to Board members on proposals that could impact students.   

The 2017-2018 members of the Student Advisory Council are Alta High’s Sydney Pexton and Taylor Wood; Brighton High’s Bradley Sullivan and Sophie Yates; Corner Canyon High’s Hope Broman and Logan Orr; Hillcrest High’s Boston Iacobazzi and Sierra Metzger; and Jordan High’s Conner Tait and Gabby Marz.

Board of Education 1st Vice President Nancy Tingey welcomed the students to their advisory role.  She says the Board looks forward to “sitting down and discussing the things” that are important to the students.  “If you see things that we could do better,” she said, “then don’t hesitate to contact us.” 

The council is facilitated by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bob Dowdle.
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 04:13

Board Meeting Summary, Oct. 3, 2017

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


Alta High's Step2theU Program

Last summer, Alta High enrolled its first cohort of juniors in Step2theU, a program that allows students to earn two years of college credit at the University of Utah while still in high school. Forty-six students applied and the program was able accept 36, said Alta High Principal Brian McGill. Grades, academic awards and extracurricular achievements all factored into the review of the applications by an admissions committee. The committee also took into consideration the applicants’ participation in Honors, Advanced Placement or concurrent enrollment courses. The committee also looked for an ability to contribute to and benefit from a culturally and intellectually diverse learning community. So far, 100 percent of the students who started the program last summer have stuck with it, McGill said. “Not one student has dropped out of the program, to date, which is pretty remarkable,” he said. Those who complete the program will graduate with the equivalent of an associate degree for a fraction of what they would pay in college tuition. It’s a life-changer for some of these kids, McGill said. 

Brain Boosters Update

Instructional Supports Department Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward updated the Board of Education on the “Brain Boosters” part of the elementary-school schedule. Two years ago, the Board of Education approved an elementary schedule that sets aside time for students to participate in the arts, physical-education, engineering, technology and media library classes. At the time the schedule was OK’d, the Board directed the Administration to streamline the Brain Boosters curriculum, increase the productivity of IPLC teacher collaboration, and ensure a high level of quality in the Brain Booster classes. Dr. Roderick-Landward said her department has focused on extending grade-level standards with the courses, and, because the classes are mostly led by paraprofessionals, developing 30- to 60-minute interactive lessons with structured instructional sequences. Roderick-Landward said ISD provides professional development on a monthly basis for the instructors who teach the arts, library media, and physical-education classes, and three times annually for engineering and technology. At the school level, she said, Brain Booster teachers and technicians have the support of the building administrator, the Achievement Coach, the Building Leadership Team liaison, and the lead technician. At the District level, there are specialists for arts, library media, Playworks, engineering and technology, as well as a District-based coach.  Board members reported hearing positive feedback about the Brain Booster program.

Policy Reviews 

The Board adopted a Special Education policy as required by state and federal law. Following a thorough review of CSD’s Section 504 Policies and Procedures, the District Administration and the Board of Education’s Policy Committee determined no substantive changes are needed.

Pledge of Allegiance and Reverence

Boy Scout Troop 788 and Cub Scout Pack 3788 posted the colors and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. The reverence was given by Alta View Principal Karen Medlin. The 600 students enrolled at the school hail mostly from White City but also live in other Sandy neighborhoods. The school has a Spanish-English Dual-Language Immersion program, and 28 licensed staff, including teachers from Spain and Mexico, and enjoys a supportive and active community of parents. Medlin thanked the Board and community for her new school building, which was the 12th major construction project completed with proceeds from the $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010. 

Student Advisory Council

The 2017-2018 members of the Student Advisory Council were officially introduced. The members are Alta High’s Sydney Pexton and Taylor Wood; Brighton High’s Bradley Sullivan and Sophie Yates; Corner Canyon High’s Hope Broman and Logan Orr; Hillcrest High’s Boston Iacobazzi and Sierra Metzger; and Jordan High’s Conner Tait and Gabby Marz. Members of the council, selected after an application process, meet regularly to advise the Board on proposed policies that could impact students. The first meeting of the council, to be led by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bob Dowdle, is Wednesday at Jordan High.  

Recognitions

The Board of Education recognized the following students and staff for their accomplishments: 
  • Katie Blunt, Education Technology Specialist, who was chosen to be featured on a nationally broadcasted segment for American Graduate Champion Day on Oct. 14. 
  • The 14 Canyons high school seniors who are semifinalists in the National Merit Scholar competition. The students are Alta High’s Nathan L. Brown; Brighton High’s Joshua Brodbeck: Corner Canyon High’s August Burton and Aaron Jackson; Hillcrest High’s Richard Abbott, Bryson Armstrong, Mohammed Khan, Chu Un Kim, Kara Komarnitsky, Madeline Martin, Joshuan Raty, Alexander Sun and Vivek Vankayalapati; and Jordan High’s Daniel Ross.
  • The Board also recognized the CSD Office of Public Communications, which received the Best Communications in a Major Incident Award from the Utah Public Information Officers Association. The award stemmed from Canyons’ efforts to communicate with the Brookwood community after a fatal shooting in June. 
Patron Comment

Draper Park Middle Kelli Davey spoke to the Board about the six-period schedule at the school.

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the consent agenda, including the approval of minutes from the Sept. 19 meeting of the Board of Education; the hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel; and a Memorandum of Understanding with Cottonwood Height’s Summer Theater Program. 

Bond Proposal

Director of External Affairs Charlie Evans presented information about the effort to inform the public about the District’s $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond proposal that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot. The Friends of the Canyons District Bond, an organization of parents who support the bond proposal, also gave the Board “vote yes” signs for their yards.  The signs were paid for with private funds. Parent Suzanne Walker said residents who want a lawn sign can contact the group at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or through a Facebook page, Friends of the Canyons District Bond.

Superintendent and Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe spoke about the public and personal impact of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. He said he knew people who were the event, and expressed gratitude they were able escape unharmed. However, he also noted the ways in which people pull together in times of a crisis and the many examples of good works, not only in our District but across the nation and world. For an example, he noted a Midvale Middle teacher who applied for a grant to help non-English speakers at the school.  He also pointed out the anti-bullying effort that Alta and Corner Canyon high school students will hold before the upcoming rivalry game.

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox told the Board that a voter information pamphlet about the bond proposal will be delivered to homes later this week.  He also congratulated East Midvale Elementary for raising to from a D to a B in the state’s school-grading program. He also thanked teachers for working so hard to prepare for Parent Teacher Conferences.

Board Reports

Mr. Mont Millerberg also remarked on the press event to announce this year’s round of Chevron “Fuel Your School” teacher grants. The event was held at Midvale Middle where English-language development teacher Shelley Allen demonstrated tablets she was awarded that are able to translate classroom lectures for students in languages ranging from Swahili to Arabic and Chinese. Mr. Millerberg also commended the citizens group of grassroots supporters who have volunteered to help spread word about CSD’s proposed school-improvement bond. 

Mr. Steve Wrigley remarked on the growing lack of civility and social pressures facing school children and the teachers who are working hard to help them achieve. He said he would like the Board to discuss the role of schools in promoting behavioral health and emotional wellness. 

Mrs. Amber Shill attended her Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation meeting and provided them with an update on CSD’s proposed bond. Parks and Recreation has just come off a successful bond election, which is reaping dividends throughout the community, she said. Mrs. Shill also accompanied Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe to a recent Cottonwood Heights City Council meeting during which they discussed the bond measure. She said the council is supportive and eager to see Brighton High rebuilt.

Mrs. Nancy Tingey encouraged School Community Council members to take advantage of the many trainings being offered by the District. She also attended the Cottonwood Heights City Council where Dr. Briscoe presented information on the proposed bond. She also commended the District for providing resources to support the emotional well-being of its students and employees.

Clareen Arnold was excused from the meeting.

Mr. Chad Iverson attended a National Honors Society induction ceremony, as well as sporting events.  He added that he’s excited about the bond proposal and the support that is building across the Canyons community.

Mr. Sherril Taylor thanked Canyons District patrons for all their support over the years. The District wouldn’t be anywhere without the supportive residents, he said.
The Canyons District Office of Public Communications has received statewide honors for its efforts to communicate with parents, teachers, students and the community at large following a fatal shooting near a Sandy elementary in June.

At the recent annual conference of the Utah Public Information Officers Association, the Canyons public-relations team of Jeff Haney and Kirsten Stewart received the award for the best communications in a major incident. The significant event was the June 6, 2017 domestic-violence situation that occurred blocks away from Brookwood Elementary just moments after classes let out for the day. It was the second-to-last day of school for the year.

The incident resulted in the slayings of a mother and her kindergarten-age child.  The man who police say fired the weapon then committed suicide in the street.

“A fatal shooting in Sandy put intense pressure on the Canyons District communications team,” the state PIO organization said in its presentation of the award. “Yet, they performed with grace and professionalism.”   

Haney and Stewart Immediately put into place the District’s established emergency-communications plan after hearing of the traumatic incident, which was witnessed by throngs of children who were walking home after school. It was also seen parents who were driving their children and neighbors who were outside enjoying the warm spring day. 

While keeping the Board of Education and District administrators apprised of developments, Haney and Stewart quickly crafted and sent notifications to parents, updated the community via social media, issued statements to news reporters, wrote and disseminated talking points for principals and staff, coordinated with law enforcement, and worked with the principal and Crisis Counseling teams to provide appropriate information to parents and employees. The demand for information about the incident continued for about a week.

“This is a well-earned award,” Canyons Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said.  The response of the communications team “allowed our principals and crisis-response teams to do what was needed to support students and families, instead of being in front of the camera,” he said.
It’s officially fall in Canyons District — that special time of year when the leaves start to change, the sun sinks out of the sky earlier each day, and the unmistakable sight of campaign signs dot the valley.

As Tuesday, Sept 26 marks National Voter Registration Day, the advent of fall means something new for Canyons students who are 18 — the legal age to vote. This November will be the first time 364 Canyons students will have the opportunity to make a choice in the upcoming election. From mayoral candidates to a $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond proposal by Canyons District, those Canyons students will have their voices heard with their votes this year.

“I plan to register,” said Hillcrest High senior Boston Iacobazzi. “I think it’s just great to have a voice and know you can influence something with your right to vote rather than just experiencing it and not having any say in what’s going on.”

National Voter Registration Day is a national holiday that was first observed in 2012. It is always held on the fourth Tuesday of September. The aim of the holiday is to motivate Americans to register to vote before they miss the deadline and lose eligibility to vote in the election. Individuals can register online, at vote.utah.gov, or by mailing in a voter registration ballot available at city and county offices.

In Salt Lake County this year, the deadline for registering by mail is Oct. 10. Online registration is available until Oct. 31. Voters can request mail-in ballots until Nov. 2. The general election takes place on Nov. 7. 

One item on the ballot this year is a $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond proposed by Canyons District to rebuild and renovate its aging schools.

If voters approve the bond on Nov. 7, the District will rebuild Brighton and Hillcrest high schools; Union Middle; Midvalley and Peruvian Park elementary schools and a White City-area elementary school. The Canyons Board of Education also approved a plan to build a new elementary school in west Draper; renovate a significant part of Alta High, including the addition of a state-of-the-art auditorium and gymnasium; replace portables with classrooms at Corner Canyon High, remodel offices at six elementary schools; and install windows and skylights at 18 elementary schools. 

Canyons’ 18-year-old students have a special insight into the needs of their schools, says Corner Canyon senior Emily Boyce. Boyce says she is excited about making a difference with her vote.

“Unlike the adults that make the decisions, we actually go here and we have classes in portables,” Boyce said. “We actually know what is going on in this school and that could help future classes have a better place.”
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 23:46

Board Meeting Summary, Aug. 22, 2017

Board Meeting Summary, Aug. 22, 2017

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

Bond Proposal


The Canyons Board of Education voted to seek resident approval of a $283 million, tax-rate-neutral bond on the Nov. 7 ballot. The Board also established a list of projects that would be completed with funds from bond issuances. If the bond proposal gains passage, the District will: 
  • Rebuild Hillcrest and Brighton high schools 
  • Rebuild Union Middle School
  • Renovate parts of Alta High School, including the addition of a new auditorium and gymnasium
  • Rebuild Midvalley and Peruvian Park elementary schools 
  • Rebuild a White City-area elementary school
  • Build new classroom wings at Corner Canyon High School
  • Build a new West Draper Elementary School
  • Remodel offices at Brookwood, Granite, Oakdale, Park Lane, Silver Mesa, and Sunrise elementary schools
  • Install windows and skylights for natural lighting at Altara, Bell View, Brookwood, Canyon View, Crescent, East Midvale, East Sandy, Granite, Lone Peak, Oakdale, Oak Hollow, Park Lane, Quail Hollow, Ridgecrest, Silver Mesa, Sprucewood, Sunrise and Willow Springs elementary schools.
Before the vote, Business Administrator Leon Wilcox reviewed the resolution and the language of the proposed ballot. He also reviewed a proposed timeline for construction of the building priorities and the legal requirements to inform the public about the proposal. 

Eric Pfieffer, research director of pollster Dan Jones and Associates, presented survey information to the Board. Of 1,204 Canyons District registered voters polled, 87 percent said the District spent proceeds from the 2010 general-obligation bond somewhat or very well. After hearing the projects under consideration to be completed with a new bond, 75 percent of respondents said they were likely to vote for the bond proposal, according to the survey. The margin of error in the survey is 2.7 percent. 

After the vote, Board President Sherril H. Taylor issued the following statement: “What an exciting time in the history of Canyons District. As work begins in earnest on the 13th and final major construction project promised to our patrons in 2010, we aim to extend our ambitious plan to improve schools across Canyons. Just as we did seven years ago, we have developed a list of construction priorities that will have us turning dirt in every part of Canyons District. While we think our track-record speaks for itself, we reiterate our pledge to provide modern and safe schools for our community while also serving as conscientious stewards of taxpayer dollars. We have built so much momentum since our patrons graciously supported our previous facility-improvement plan, and we have great hopes the community will continue to work with us in in our efforts to build up Canyons together.”

CTESS Update

In response to feedback from teachers and principals, Canyons District’s teacher evaluation system continues to be updated, said Human Resources Administrator of Evaluation and Leadership Sandra Dahl-Houlihan. With these refinements in place, 83 percent of teachers polled in May 2017 strongly agree or agree that CTESS has improved. In 2017, 94 percent of CSD’s career educators, and 86 percent of provisional educators, were rated as effective or highly effective. That’s up from the 93 percent and 83 percent, respectively, who reached effective or highly effective status in 2016. The three-year-old evaluation system remains a work in progress and will continue to undergo improvements, said Dahl-Houlihan. The end goal is for it to be an effective support tool for teachers, and not punitive.

Behavioral Supports Update

Responsive Services Director BJ Weller updated the Board on organizational changes that will make it possible for schools and District personnel to provide needed behavioral supports and respond quickly and uniformly to crises. The changes aim to better align all support professionals toward the common goal of removing barriers to student achievement. They come as schools throughout Utah are determining how to comply with juvenile-justice system reforms that require schools to find new ways to discipline kids without sending them to court. 

Volunteer Report

New Region 17 PTA Director Tonya Rhodes and former President Betty Shaw gave the Board a ceremonial giant check made for the amount of $2,900,783. This figure represents the amount of money the District would have had to pay in salaries if it would have had to pay employees for the 120,940 hours of work done by PTA volunteers.

Board Recognitions

The following were recognized for their achievements:
  • CSD Nutrition Services Director Sebasthian Varas, who was named by the School Nutrition Association as the 2017 Director of the Year for Utah
  • Special Education Programs Administrator and former Eastmont Middle Principal Stacy Kurtzhals, who recently received the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Program
  • Corner Canyon High freshman Arial Harp, for winning first place in speech performance at the Chinese Bridge Language Contest at the University of Maryland.

Open Meetings Training

Canyons District’s General Counsel Dan Harper briefed the Board on its responsibilities regarding Open and Public Meetings. The annual training is required by law.

School Community Council Training

Every year, CSD conducts training for new and returning School Community Council members. The trainings give council members an understanding of their statutory responsibilities and help them make the most of their time on their school’s council, explained Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards.  The work of the SCCs also streamline the approval process for school improvement plans, said Alice Peck, a CSD School Performance Director. 

Pledge of Allegiance and Reverence

School Performance Director Joanne Ackermann led the Board and audience in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Communications Director Jeff Haney delivered the reverence.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the consent agenda, which included minutes from the Aug. 2, 2017 meeting of the Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel plans; July financial reports; and CSD’s participation in the SAFE Neighborhoods Program. 

Patron Comments

Former Region 17 PTA President Betty Shaw thanked volunteers in Canyons Schools. She also expressed appreciation for District’s support during her tenure as the leader of the Parent-Teacher Association. She said the District needs to “keep the ball rolling” with school-improvement efforts. She said she’s 100 percent in favor of a new bond proposal. 

CEA President Erika Bradshaw introduced herself to the Board of Education. Bradshaw says she looks forward to maintaining a positive relationship with the Board and Administration. She also says she’s in favor of the bond proposal.  She noted the vast facility differences between Mount Jordan Middle, where she previously taught, and Hillcrest High, where she teaches now.

Superintendent and Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said the Board’s support of the bond proposal shows the members are committed to educational excellence. He applauded Z104FM for the radio station’s efforts to collect donations of back-to-school supplies for students in need, and thanked the External Relations team for their work planning the school supply donation drive. CSD joined forces with the radio station as part of its annual back-to-school Gathering for Good fundraising lunch.

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox thanked the Board members for their diligence in weighing the bond proposal. He thanked Facilities Director Rick Conger and his team for all the hard work they’ve put in over the summer to ensure CSD’s schools are ready to welcome students at the beginning of the year. Finally, he commended Nutrition Services Director Sebasthian Varas for his award.

Board Member Reports

Steve Wrigley remarked on the huge crowd that attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Alta View Elementary, the 12th project completed with money from the $250 million voter-approved bond. People of all generations came to the event to see the new addition to their community. Wrigley also reported on attending CSD’s New-Teacher Orientation and sat in on a faculty meeting at Eastmont Middle, where enthusiasm is high for the coming school year.

Mrs. Amber Shill said she looks forward to the first day of school and CSD’s traditional Red Carpet Welcomes on the first day of school. She also expressed gratitude for Sixth-Grade –Orientation, which helps new middle schoolers become acclimated to the building.    

Mrs. Nancy Tingey reported on attending a Cottonwood Heights City-sponsored luncheon for the 2017 Teachers of the Year in Cottonwood Heights-area schools.  She remarked on her excitement for the 2017-2018 school year. She wished everyone “a wonderful first day.” Lastly, she thanked her fellow Board members for support of the 2017 bond.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold expressed gratitude for fellow Board member Chad Iverson’s diligence in weighing the bond proposal. She thanked Business Administrator Leon Wilcox and his team for their hard work in preparing information and data on the bond. 

Mr. Chad Iverson commended Board member Clareen Arnold for the unique perspective that she brings to the Board as a career educator. He expressed enthusiasm for the Utah State Board of Education’s willingness to reevaluate year-end testing for high school students. He added that he supports the will of the Board with regard to pursuing a bond.

Board President Sherril Taylor recognized the hard work and diligence of teachers who worked so hard to prepare for the start of school.  He noted the excitement that is felt in the schools for the first-day-of-school celebrations.  He also thanked the police officers for providing security to the community. 
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