The Board of Education on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 unanimously voted to approve a negotiated agreement with the Canyons Education Association for 2017-2018 school year.

The agreement contains a small adjustment to the Conversion Placement Table approved at the April 25, 2017 meeting of the Board of Education. The new, single-lane salary schedule represents the largest pay hike in the District’s history, bumping the starting-teacher salary by more than $5,000 to $40,500, while also funding raises for mid-career and veteran educators. Every licensed employee will see no less than a 4 percent jump, significantly improving their lifetime earnings and retirement payments. It’s a big investment and tangible proof of how much the CSD community values education, says Board of Education President Sherril H. Taylor.

"We have said it before and we will say it again: Teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions," he said. "With the intention of bringing the best and brightest to Canyons District classrooms, and to give teachers a chance to earn more over the length of their careers, the Board of Education moved singularly and decisively to make an important and positive financial impact in the lives of our teachers."

CEA President Jen Buttars also said the association appreciates "the nearly $11.5 million investment in teacher salaries and believes that the Board has truly demonstrated a commitment to not only recruit, but also retain educators."

"The CEA believes that (the Board's) commitment to listening to the concerns of educators, recognizing professional judgement and attending to salary, benefit and working condition concerns, allows educators to focus on their
efficacy for the benefit of all Canyons School District students," she said.

As part of the agreement, the District will cover 83.7 percent of the 11.33 percent hike in health insurance premiums that takes effect in January 2018. One Personal Leave Day will be converted back to a Sick Leave Day. Also, under a policy change, the provisional status of experienced transfer teachers may be shortened if they have:
  • Successfully taught for at least three consecutive years in an accredited school or district
  • Completed at least one year of provisional service with Canyons District
  • Successfully met the criteria outlined in GCOA-Evaluation of Instructional Staff (Licensed)
  • Been recommended by their principal/supervisor for a Provisional Status Exception
  • Received approval by the Director of Human Resources

Bon boulot, gong xi and felicitaciones to students throughout Canyons District who are making waves with their language skills. 

On Friday, May 5, 2017, Draper Park Middle students Ariel Harp and McKay Larsen took first place at the Chinese Bridge Language Contest at the University of Maryland. Harp and Larson represented Utah for the first time in the competition, where they competed in the Cultural Performance category. 

Harp also won first place in the Level 4 Speech Contest at the Chinese Language Fair at BYU in April. She was joined by 11 other Draper Park Middle students who received superior and excellent awards at the fair, as well as students from Corner Canyon and Hillcrest high schools and Midvale Middle, who also placed first at the BYU Language Fair.

The students are all part of Canyons Dual-Language Immersion program, which features programs in Mandarin Chinese-English, French-English, and Spanish-English. Parents and their Dual-Language Immersion students in all grade levels are invited to attend a secondary=school information night on Thursday, May 11 at 6 p.m. in the Professional Development Center at Canyons Administration Building-East, 9361 S. 300 East.

The purpose of the event is to discuss how students transition from elementary to middle school, and middle school to high school, in the DLI program. Course pathways and descriptions, bridge courses, university collaboration and program locations will also be discussed.

More than 300 DLI students from Alta, Corner Canyon, Brighton, Hillcrest and Jordan high schools recently tested their skills at the BYU Language Fair in Provo on April 20, 2017. Students from Midvale, Mount Jordan and Draper Park Middle also participated in the half-day event that tests language ability in Chinese, French, Spanish, German and Russian.

A group of students at Hillcrest took first place in the Language Bowl at the Spanish Foreign Language Fair at BYU. The students were tested on grammar, geography, history, culture, current events, and vocabulary. The students were asked questions in Spanish and teams of five had 10 minutes to answer the questions and receive points according to their answers. At Corner Canyon, students received superior marks in Show and Tell, Speech and Conversation.

Midvale Middle participated in BYU’s Chinese Language Fair and took first place in the Character Bee portion of the competition. In the Character Bee, students match words, written in Chinese, with their correct definitions. The first team to match 12 words in a row correctly wins. 
Joani Richardson is the kind of teacher who can breathe new life into words, pull magic from a page, and spark wonder in the eyes of eager-to-learn children. “I love to teach children to love to read,” says Richardson. “I have failed if I have not taught a child to love to read.”

For her dedication to inspiring her first-grade students at Altara Elementary to learn and grow, Richardson, who is beloved by scores of students, parents and fellow educators, has received one of the most prestigious awards given to public-school educators in Utah. 

On Friday, April 28, 2017, in front of cheering Altara Kittyhawks of all ages, Richardson was announced as a winner of a Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education. She’s one of 11 Utahns selected for the honor, which comes with a crystal obelisk and a $10,000 cash prize. The winners — six general education teachers, three administrators, one special-education teacher and a volunteer — are hand-picked by a panel of prominent citizens and educators after a public-nomination process. Awards will be given at a May banquet in Salt Lake.
2017 Huntsman Award Winner Joani Richardson

“Every year, our family has the opportunity of going all over the state of Utah,” said Karen Huntsman, the philanthropist and wife of billionaire businessman Jon M. Huntsman Sr., who delivered to the news to Richardson personally at an assembly. “You know what they we are looking for?  Outstanding teachers.” 

At the Friday morning assembly, which was attended by Richardson’s family (some had dialed in via FaceTime on iPhones), Principal Nicole Svee-Magann, Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe and School Performance Director Alice Peck, Huntsman pulled Richardson close and said, “She doesn’t teach for the money,” Huntsman said.  “She teaches for the love of teaching.” 

Svee-Magann is effusive in her praise of Richardson, who has taught for some four decades. The principal calls her a top-notch teacher who doesn’t let anything — not even breast cancer — slow her down. Even while undergoing chemotherapy treatment, she said, Richardson ran last Saturday’s Salt Lake Half-Marathon. 

“Sometimes when we have hard things happen, we have to keep going. We have to keep going forward and making a difference. This good woman is the best example of this that I know,” Huntsman added. “When hard things happen, do you think she forgets her students?  Do you think she forgets her lesson plans?  She does everything because she loves and cares about what she’s doing.  When you think about all the children she’s taught … she has impacted their lives for years and years and years.”

Richardson’s selection extends Canyons District’s streak of being home to a Huntsman award-winner. Last year’s winner from CSD, Brighton High’s Aaron Hadfield, was at Friday’s assembly to surprise Richardson with the news. But he was there in a different capacity — as a volunteer in the WatchDOG program for fathers. Also, his wife, Jody, is the School Community Council chair at Altara and was the driving force behind Richardson’s nomination.

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  • Thursday, 27 April 2017 22:13

    Board Meeting Summary, April 25, 2017

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

    Board Summary

    The Canyons Board of Education on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 approved a new salary schedule that will boost the starting salary for a beginning teacher more than $5,000 a year while also providing salary hikes for mid-career and veteran educators. The new salary schedule pushes the starting salary for a new teacher in Canyons District to $40,500. Also, every licensed employee will see no less than a 4 percent jump, and the average increase will be 6.5 percent after the conversion to the new single-lane salary structure. Members of the Board of Education unanimously voted in favor of passing the salary schedule, which Canyons’ Human Resources Department and Principals can use to attract high-quality candidates for classrooms and special programs. The new salary schedule also continues Canyons District’s commitment to providing professional compensation packages to employees. Every year since CSD’s inception in 2009, and even during the years of the Great Recession, the Board of Education has approved some kind of salary increase for employees. In addition, the new single-lane schedule provides an opportunity for educators to make continuous, positive impacts to their lifetime earnings. The level on which teachers start is based on years of experience and educational level. An explanatory chart can be found on the CSD website. 

    Board President Sherril H. Taylor issued this statement on behalf of the Board: “In 2009, we launched an experiment in public education in Utah. On July 1 of that year, Canyons became the first new school district to be created in the state in nearly a century. On that first day, we pledged to focus on student achievement, innovation, customer service, and community engagement. We acknowledged then, as we do now, that education is the key to a successful life. Our teachers are the backbone of our efforts to ensure that every child is college- and career-ready at the time of their high school graduations. Great teachers do so much: They inspire. They encourage. They elevate. They care. Tonight, we are showing in word and deed how much we care. Not only will we be recognizing the commitment and excellence of our Teachers of the Year, we’re also putting into place a competitive salary schedule for all licensed employees in Canyons District. The new salary schedule will increase the starting yearly salary for a first-year teacher more than $5,000 while also providing salary hikes for mid-career and veteran educators. Every licensed employee will see no less than a 4 percent jump, and the average increase will be 6.5 percent. In addition, the new single-lane schedule provides an opportunity for educators to make continuous positive impacts to their lifetime earnings. The Board of Education believes it is important to invest in the District’s people. In turn, our students will benefit. Our classrooms will be led by the best and brightest educators that we can attract and retain, especially in this era of a nationwide teacher shortage. More than that, in Canyons District, we strive to create a sense of unity and common purpose. Yes, it takes a village, and our teachers, with their experience and knowledge, are a vital part of the Canyons District family. After all, teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions. Teachers, on behalf of the Board of Education, I thank you for your commitment in this noble endeavor of educating our children. Yes, you touch the future.  You teach.”

    Teacher of the Year

    Union Middle teacher Drew Fosse’s creative approach to keeping students motivated and engaged is among the reasons the Board of Education honored him as Canyons’ Teacher of the Year. The history teacher was chosen from a pool of 48 of CSD’s best educators who represent each of Canyons’ schools and programs, including Canyons Virtual High, alternative high school Diamond Ridge and the academy at the Utah State Prison. Each teacher was nominated for their abilities to inspire students and colleagues, lift their fellow educators and collaborate with their school community.  The announcement ceremony was held in the Professional Development Center of the Canyons Administration Building-East, 9361 S. 300 East. The two other finalists in this year’s selection process were Stephanie Cobabe, a teacher at East Sandy, and Janice Spencer-Wise, a physics teacher at Brighton High. The Canyons Education Foundation gave a $1,000 cash prize to Fosse. Cobabe received $750 and Spencer-Wise received $500. 

    Tentative Agreements with ESP, Administrators

    The Canyons Board of Education tentative negotiated agreements for the 2017-2018 school year with the Canyons Education Support Professionals Association and District Administrators. By accepting the tentative agreements, and with the vote to put into place a new salary schedule for licensed educators for the 2017-2018 school year, all employees in the Canyons will see a boost in compensation in the coming academic year.

    For administrators, the District agrees to fully fund increment steps for eligible employees; a 3.25 percent cost of living adjustment to the base of the Administrative Salary Schedule; and a one-time 1.25 percent stipend for the 41 administrators who are at the top step during the 2016-2017 school year. The District also agrees to the recommendations of the District Insurance Advisory Committee regarding the insurance premium increase. The total dollar increase will be 11.3 percent. The District will contribute 83.7 percent of the increase and employees will contribute the remaining 16.3 percent. The administrators also agree to the plan-design changes recommend by the DIAC. The administrators who have a master’s degree plus 30 semester hours in pursuit of additional education will receive a $2,100 stipend, which is 50 percent of the stipend for those with doctorate degrees. Also, administrators must have 240 sick days to be eligible to participate the sick-day redemption program.

    For the Education Support Professionals, the District will fully fund increment steps for eligible employees. The District also will fund a 3.25 percent cost of living adjustment to the base of the ESP salary schedule. The District will maintain the same number of working days and hours for current contracted employees. Exceptions would be governed by regular District policy and procedures. The salary schedule changes and increment increase for all ESP employees, regardless of the employee’s contracted day of work, will go into effect July 1, 2017. Changes will be retroactive if negotiations extend past that date. In 2018, there will be an 11.33 percent insurance premium increase, but the District will contribute 83.7 percent and the ESP employees will contribute the remaining 16.3 percent. The District will maintain health premiums with no increase between July 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2017.  Also, upon retirement through URS, and based solely upon sick days accrued since July 1, 2009, the District will pay $100 per day for 25 percent of the employee’s accrued, but unused sick leave.

    In addition, the negotiated agreement states that salary lane movement for promotions of current employees promoted after Jan. 1 will be given service credit from their previous hire date and eligible for step increments increase.

    Proposed Bus Route Changes

    Risk Management Coordinator Kevin Ray updated the Board on a proposal to cancel a bus route that serves students who reside in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The plan is to reimburse families for the costs of transporting their children to a pickup area somewhere in the valley at the base of the canyon. Students would then be bused from this area to Butler Elementary, Butler Middle or Brighton High. This falls in line with how the District handles transportation to and from other mountainous areas, including Little Cottonwood Canyon, Suncrest and South Mountain. Because the Big Cottonwood Canyon route services fewer than 10 students, the state only covers 50 percent of the costs. The Utah Division of Risk Management has expressed concern about the route, said Ray who drove it personally on April 10. “There is no room for driver error,” he said, referring to heavy traffic, natural hazards, such as heavy snow and rock slides, and the lack of shoulder space and adequate guard rails. The steep grade requires downhill buses to use their engine breaks the entire length of the road. Though the posted speed limit is 40 miles per hour, large buses can only safely drive at about 15 to 20 miles per hour. This poses a risk as drivers become inpatient and attempt to pass on the windy, two-lane road. Busing will continue through the end of the current school year; any changes, if approved, would take in 2017-2018. The Board will take up the issue at a future meeting, and directed the Administration to notify affected families in advance of any decision. 

    Consent Agenda

    The Board of Education approved items on the consent agenda, including minutes from the April 11, 2017 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel plans; March financial reports; and 2017-2018 School Land Trust Plans, which have been signed by two Board members. 

    Policy Update

    The Board approved on a third reading, proposed changes to personnel policies governing salary levels for employees returning to work after a work-related medical accident; health-insurance eligibility; long-term disability; and employee probation.
    Has your child watched the trending Netflix show "13 Reasons Why?" If so, it may be an important time to start a discussion about any challenging emotions he or she may be feeling, according to counselors and psychologists who provide supports to school-age children.

    Based on a 2007 young adult novel of the same name, the series is raising concerns of student-support and mental-health specialists, says Tori Gillett, Canyons District’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Program Coordinator.

    Gillett says school counseling centers have seen an uptick in students seeking support after watching the popular show, which premiered on March 31 and, according to Twitter, is the most-tweeted-about show of 2017. The show, a fictional account of a teenage girl's suicide, has prompted some 11 million tweets, according to Variety. 

    Gillett says: “They are coming down (to the counseling centers), saying, “I watched this and it bought up some feelings, and you know I have experienced some of the same things.’”   

    As this online resource provided by the National Association of School Psychologists explains, "The series revolves around 17-year-old Hannah Baker, who takes her own life and leaves behind audio recordings for 13 people who she says in some way were part of why she killed herself."

    The show’s producers, which include pop singer Selena Gomez, have defended the series’ graphic content, saying they hope “13 Reasons Why” can open the door to discussions with teens or adolescents about suicide.   

    However, many teens are binge-watching the 13-episode series without adult guidance —and this could lead some to idealize or glamorize the thought of suicide. Gillett says Canyons counselors and school psychologists are aware of the content of the show and are prepared to provide support to students. 

    “We do have a lot of help out there,” she said. In addition to school counselors and psychologists, Canyons District sponsors the Canyons Family Center, located inside Copperview Elementary, 8449 S. 150 West. The Canyons Family Center provides a spectrum of individual and family-based counseling, student-support groups, and parent-education classes.

    The center’s services, which include preliminary counseling sessions that help experienced school psychologists determine what services may be needed to meet a family’s specific needs, are provided at no cost to families in Canyons District.

    Gillett urges students to seek the help of counselor if they need to talk or have questions. Also, students have 24-hour access to licensed counselors at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute via the SafeUT mobile app.

    Here are some tips for families provided by the National Association of School Psychologists:

    • Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series “13 Reasons Why.” While we don’t recommend that they be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.
    • If they exhibit any of the warning signs above, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
    • Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.
    • Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside.
    • Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.
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