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For Draper Elementary teacher Yinyao You, the only way to express his feelings about receiving an award that’s so prestigious only a handful of people in the world have ever received it, is with an exclamation point.

You was selected to receive the Individual Performance Excellence Award from the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah, a recognition given to only 30 individuals worldwide, including university presidents and educational leaders. He is one of five individuals from the United States to receive the award this year, and the only guest teacher in the U.S. to be recognized, according to the Confucius Institute.

“ItIMG_0156.jpg is my great honor to get this award!” You said in an email sent from China to his colleagues, friends and administrators in Canyons District after he received the award from Madam Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China. “I know I can’t thank all of you enough!”

You received the award on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Xi’An, China, as part of the 12th annual Confucius Institute Conference. He will remain out of the country until school resumes in January. The other four recipients of the award from the U.S. include two directors of the Confucius Institute, the president of Alabama A&M University and the president of Miami Dade College in Florida. Remarking on You’s contributions to the state's immersion program, Utah Chinese Dual Language Immersion Director Stacy Lyon said the award is “well-deserved.”
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Earlier this year, You was named the International Teacher of the Year by the Utah Foreign Association. As an involved educator who teaches 2nd grade Chinese immersion students by day and kung fu and tai chi after school, You has also been recognized as an Outstanding Educator by the Utah PTA and Star Teacher by the College Board.

He was chosen for his most recent award out of a pool of some 525 Confucius Institutes scattered through 146 countries in the world. The non-profit institution was established to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries, according to the Confucius Institute Headquarters website, English.hanban.org. The Individual Performance Excellence Award is one of the highest honors offered by the Institute.

“It’s a really big deal for the CI headquarters, and it’s a positive affirmation of what Yinyao has contributed to Draper elementary,” Shin Chi Fame Kao, Outreach Coordinator at the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah, said in an email informing Canyons of You’s award. “We are very proud of having him in our team and wish that he will continue to work for Utah in the future.”
Because we all breathe the same air, and share in the responsibility to safeguard it from the harmful pollutants emitted by our homes, businesses and vehicles, Canyons District has declared all of its school campuses idle-free zones.

With inversion season upon us, we're re-issuing our Clean Air Challenge and inviting families to join us in combining car trips to conserve gas, walking and biking to school instead of driving, and reducing schoolyard idling during morning drop-offs and afternoon pickups.

On Earth Day, 2016, Canyons became the first school district in Utah to go idle free at all of its schools. The campaign kicked off early in the morning at Ridgecrest elementary school where students greeted drivers with placards, informational pamphlets and window clings to place in vehicles. Signs were placed at all of Canyons’ schools and “no idling” pledges were sent home with students, encouraging parents to voluntarily pledge to turn their key and be idle free.

The idea originated with a parent who dropped by Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe’s office just over a month ago to share her frustration at seeing exhaust billowing into the air at her child’s school’s parking lot. Briscoe took her concerns to the Board of Education, and within a matter of weeks, the district’s “no idling” campaign was born. 

“Besides educating students, I feel we have some responsibility for their health, and their future health,” says Briscoe, noting that projections show school enrollment doubling over the next 30 years.

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Parents spoke, and we listened. Starting with the 2019-2020 school year, Canyons District’s schools will let out for the summer in May, instead of the first week of June.

“Teachers and parents have expressed concern about our schools letting out later than those in neighboring districts,” says Planning and Enrollment Director Dr. Floyd Stensrud. “The later end-date makes it difficult for families to coordinate summer vacations and for high school students to compete for summer jobs.”

The changes will take effect with the start of the 2019-2020 school year, and were approved by the Board of Education based on recommendations by the District’s Calendar Committee, which is made up of employees, and parents. Teachers also provided input via two extensive surveys.

Under the new calendars, there also will be fewer Fridays when school is not in session, alleviating the need for working parents to secure child care. There will be no change in the number of instructional days or holidays, and Brighton High will remain on a trimester schedule.

To aid families in their planning, the new, tentatively-approved calendars for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 can be found on the District’s website.
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 04:22

Board Meeting Summary, Dec. 5, 2017

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

Bond Project Discussion


The Administration discussed a possible construction timeline for the projects to be funded by the $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond voters approved on Nov. 7. Proposed is a two-phase construction schedule. Phase No. 1 would start in summer 2018 with the significant remodel of Alta High and rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools. The Alta High project is projected to take two years; both Brighton and Hillcrest would be three-year projects. The three projects are the largest projects on the list. Starting this summer would allow the District to capitalize on lower construction costs and interest rates. According to the proposal, Phase No. 2 would start in summer 2019 with the start of a rebuild at an elementary school. Each summer after that, and until 2022, the District would start one of the promised elementary schools, which would all take roughly 15 months to build. In addition, the rebuild of Union Middle would start in summer 2021 and be complete in time for the 2023-2024 school year. The elementary schools to be rebuilt under the plan include Midvalley, Peruvian Park, and a school in the White City area. A new school also has been promised for west Draper. The Administration is proposing to this summer rebuild front offices at Brookwood, Park Lane and Silver Mesa elementary schools, and natural lighting projects at Brookwood, Canyon View, Crescent, East Midvale, East Sandy, Park Lane, Quail Hollow, Ridgecrest, and Silver Mesa. In the summer of 2019, projects include the new front offices at Granite, Oakdale, and Sunrise and the elementary interior lighting upgrades at Altara, Bell View, Granite, Lone Peak, Oak Hollow, Oakdale, Sunrise, Sprucewood, and Willow Springs. The Board of Education also discussed when crews could be hired to build classrooms to replace portables at Corner Canyon High. The portables at Corner Canyon may be needed at Brighton and Hillcrest while those two schools are being rebuilt onsite. Business Administrator Leon Wilcox also presented information about the small-capital facility projects expected to be started in summers 2018, 2019 and 2020. 

Policy Update

The Board heard updates on policies governing Secondary School Changes and the Student Dress Code. These are just two of the policies being examined by the Policy Committee, which is made up of Board members and CSD administrators. The group, led by Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen, has met two times per month throughout the 2014-2017 school years. In 2017, 144 polices were studied, discussed and referred to the Board to make sure the policy matches practice. 

Dual Language Immersion Program

Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward updated the Board of Education on the expected high school implementation of Dual Language Immersion Programs. Dr. Roderick-Landward told the Board that planning for DLI in the high schools is challenging. CSD’s plan hinges upon several variables, including student enrollment, state support for the college-bridge programs, and the ability to retain qualified teachers, Dr. Roderick said. If swings in the variables are such that it would not be possible to sustain a quality program, the District may need to readdress the plan at a later date. A list of current and projected sites for DLI in high schools, as well as the year of implementation, can be found on BoardDocs. Based on surveys and intent-to-continue forms from current students in lower grades, interest in secondary Mandarin Chinese, French and Spanish programs is solid. However, additional discussions about the DLI high school offerings will likely need to happen when the official enrollment figures are tallied after registration.

Assessment Audit

Canyons District students spend between 1.7 percent to 2.7 percent of the school year taking tests, according to an internal audit of state- and district-required assessments performed at the request of the Canyons Education Association. By comparison, 27 percent of instruction time is spent learning math, 12 percent is devoted to school lunch, and 4.5 percent is reserved for recess. The results run counter to commonly held concerns about over-testing in schools. The average number of minutes spent by students in testing has increased since 2014. However, this trend will reverse in 2018-2019 as changes in SAGE writing and district language arts exams contribute to a decrease in testing time.

Pledge of Allegiance and Reverence

Midvalley Elementary student Joseph Mesa led the Board in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and Principal Tamra Baker delivered the reverence. She expressed appreciation to the CSD Board, parents and taxpayers for their support of the $283 million bond that will be used to repair and upgrade 27 schools, including Midvalley Elementary, which was first built in 1957. The school is among those slated for a complete rebuild. Baker also expressed gratitude for her PTA, the support of community groups, including the Eagle Scouts, and a grant that will be used to purchased musical instruments. She explained a program geared toward improving student engagement and reducing tardies and absences, and invited the Board to visit the school to see it in action. 

Patron Comment

In regards to the bond projects, Patron Steve Van Maren urged the Board to consider starting the Union Middle rebuild before the Alta High renovation. He also urged the Board to start the elementary school projects in the spring instead of summer months. He also encouraged the Board to continue planning for the future in the southern part of the district, especially with the relocation of the Utah State Prison in Draper.

CEA President Erika Bradshaw thanked Dr. Hal Sanderson, Director of Research and Assessment, for his audit of assessments proctored in CSD classrooms. She also thanked the Instructional Supports Department for responding to the requests of the CEA to re-evaluate how much time is spent on assessments.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved items on the consent agenda, including the minutes from the Nov. 14, 2017 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; the hiring and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel requests; and a LAND Trust amendment for Midvalley Elementary. They also approved an amendment for the Brighton High LAND Trust plan. 

Policy Updates

Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen updated the Board of Education on policies governing the Calendar Committee guidelines; student search and seizure; student attendance; and student records, privacy rights and release of information. The Board voted to accept the updates. 

Academic Calendars

The Board of Education approved the calendar for the 2018-2019 school year. The Board also tentatively approved the alternative calendars for the 2019-2020 school-year calendar, which includes an earlier start date in August and an earlier end date, during the week of Memorial Day Recess.

Reviews and Audits  

The Board of Education voted to accept the 2016-2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and accompanying audits, which were conducted by Squire and Company. The public can access the reports on BoardDocs

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Briscoe thanked Business Administrator Leon Wilcox for the work done on this year’s CAFR and other accompanying audits. He mentioned that the District’s fiscal health led to the AAA bond rating, which will save taxpayers millions. He thanked the School Resource Officers for helping keep campuses safe. Dr. Briscoe also thanked the outgoing mayors of three CSD-area municipalities — Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore, Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini, and Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan — for their roles in starting and strengthening Canyons District. He bid all Canyons employees and patrons a happy and safe holiday season.

Mr. Leon Wilcox thanked Board members for reviewing the financial reports and participating in design meetings for the buildings that will be constructed with proceeds from the public-approved bond.  He wished everyone a happy holidays.

Board Member Reports

Mr. Mont Millerberg remarked on the innovations of the teachers who received grants from the Canyons Education Foundation. He also thanked the patrons who served on the Friends of the Canyons District Bond advocacy group.  He also thanked his fellow Board members for the civil discourse that surrounded the bond-project discussion.  Mr. Millerberg also reported on his attendance at the audit committee.

Mr. Steve Wrigley reported on attending the high school musicals at Brighton, Alta, Jordan, Hillcrest, Corner Canyon and Brighton high schools.  He also said he attended meetings regarding the future of the land on which the Utah State Prison now stands. He wished everyone a happy holiday season. 

Mrs. Amber Shill reported on attending Hillcrest High’s recent production of “Les Miserables.” Mrs. Shill commended the cast and faculty advisers on the high quality of the production. She also attended the Butler Middle SCC and a UHSAA meeting. Mrs. Shill thanked Dr. Stensrud and the Calendar Committee on creating the calendars for the coming school years.

Mrs. Nancy Tingey thanked the Calendar Committee for their hard work and responsiveness to feedback. She also thanked the business departments of CSD for their work on the financial and accompanying audits. She reported on attending the Common Good Awards. She also reiterated her commitment to encouraging high-quality instruction in classrooms. She wished everyone a happy holidays. 

Mrs. Clareen Arnold bid patrons a happy holiday season.

Mr. Chad Iverson attended performing-arts concerts at Indian Hills Middle. He wished Canyons patrons a happy holidays.

President Taylor thanked the members of the Canyons District family for all they do for students.  He acknowledged the hard work that goes into creating a leading District.  He wished every a happy and safe holiday season.
Alta High School last week welcomed talkative visitors for the 30th annual Black and Silver Debate Tournament. 

Eighty schools from 14 states were represented at the Tournament of Champions-qualifying event, with 500 students who came from as far away as Florida to compete.  

From Thursday to Saturday, some 200 adult chaperones and judges accompanied the students, who debated various topics in public forum, policy debate, and Lincoln-Douglas debate. “It’s very busy, logistically speaking,” said Alta debate coach Tanya Roundy. “It really pulls us together as a team, because they spend a lot of time working to get things to come together and managing the tournament together.”

Alta history teacher Rique Ochoa first established the debate tournament 30 years ago to provide his students an opportunity to compete at a high-level tournament without having to travel. Debaters who make it to the finals at the Black and Silver tourney qualify to go on to compete in the national Tournament of Champions.

In later years, host schools were no longer allowed to compete in their own tournaments, to avoid the appearance of bias. However, the Black and Silver competition is still a great opportunity for Alta’s debate students to use their skills, Roundy says.

“They use a lot of their speech skills, meeting new people, talking about these topics, hearing perspectives and arguments from all over the United States,” Roundy said. “They also get the benefit of learning how to manage time and organize and event plan.”

This year, Alta’s debate team had a bumper crop of 30 novice members and six varsity members. The team has students on the wrestling team, swim team, basketball players, actors, and all academic levels, Roundy says. She attributes the growing interest in Alta’s debate team as a carryover from the debate programs initiated in the District’s middle and elementary schools.

“It can really bring a lot of students with different interests together,” Roundy said. “Debate allows them to explore whatever their strengths are and build on those.”
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