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

Utah College Application Week  

The Canyons Education Foundation continues to support Canyons’ 7th annual Utah College Application Week, a time set aside to encourage every high school senior to complete and submit at least one viable college application. Canyons high schools are holding the UCAW-related events throughout October. The Foundation Board and Development Officer Denise Haycock presented a check for $10,000 to help low-income students pay applicable college-application fees during UCAW, held in collaboration with the Utah System of Higher Education. The CSD Foundation is able to provide this kind of assistance through the generosity of those who support donation drives and events such as the Foundation’s 10th annual golf tournament, held Sept. 18 at Wasatch Mountain State Park, which raised an estimated $80,000. All money raised by the Foundation is used to support the vision and mission of Canyons District.

Utah Tax Reform

Utah Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, presented information to the Board of Education on proposed tax reform measures in Utah, which could impact how education is funded. However, allowing income taxes to be spent on anything but education – either K-12 or higher education – would require the voters allow an amendment to the state constitution. Utah legislators studying the state’s revenue structure, now eight decades old, are putting on the table possible avenues to collect funds necessary to operate the government and provide services. Spendlove pointed out that technology has impacted purchasing habits. In turn, that impacts the amount of money governments can collect. For example, goods bought online bypass the system that relies on local stores selling items, charging a tax at the point of purchase, then passing those funds to the state. The Utah Legislature’s Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force recently completed a series of Town Hall meetings around Utah to gather public input how the state collects money through sales, property, and income taxes, as well as other funding mechanisms. Spendlove said Utah leaders are studying how other states are reforming tax structure, and will continue to gather feedback from constituents and local governmental bodies such as school boards.

Dual Language Immersion Policy

Recommendations about the future of District’s Dual Language Immersion programs are expected to be presented to the Board of Education in the next few months, according to Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward, Director of CSD’s Instructional Supports Department. A committee of teachers, administrators, parents, principals, and ISD specialists examining how to build on the strengths of the DLI programs has been busy collecting student participation, enrollment, and achievement data; administering stakeholder surveys; and reviewing costs. Among the findings: attrition increases exponentially at the secondary level; current offerings are not meeting the demand; families are satisfied with their DLI-program experiences; students in DLI programs are meeting learning benchmarks in core areas; and students are meeting language proficiency targets at greater rates in elementary than secondary. The research also showed that DLI start-up costs are significantly higher than any other content or extracurricular activity. Roderick-Landward said the committee’s review has shown needs in five categories: communication, teacher quality, curriculum and resources, impact on the school and language proficiency. The committee, led by Roderick-Landward, also is looking at the impacts to the current overall system and potential costs. 

Small Capital Facilities Update

The Facilities Services Departments seeks to advance small capital facilities projects so work can be started in late spring or immediately after the school year ends. The department proposes to design projects from October to December, solicit bids from December to February, and seek Board of Education approval from February to April. This summer, daylighting projects are scheduled to be done at seven elementary schools. When done, all 18 natural-light projects promised to the public at the passage of the November 2017 bond will have been completed. Work is expected to continue on the parking lot at Draper Elementary and the flooring at Jordan High. In addition, in the coming year, the District would like to replace roofs at the central office and Jordan High, stucco at the central office, and irrigation system at Draper Elementary, a drainage system at Lone Peak Elementary, and relocate the relatively new Midvalley Elementary playground equipment to another school. Midvalley will receive new equipment as part of the school’s rebuild. Possible projects for future years also were presented.

Secondary Parent-Teacher Conference

The Board of Education will work with the District Administration on a survey of School Community Councils and school-based administrators to gauge interest in adopting new structures for Parent-Teacher Conferences at middle schools and high schools. This is in response to the decreasing participating rate in secondary schools. At high schools, the rate dropped from 23.64 percent in 2017 to 22.19 in 2019. Average middle school participation at the fall conference was 53 percent in 2018 and 49.55 percent in 2019. A committee studying how to make the conferences more effective suggests that, instead of solely holding the traditional “open house” model, teachers also be asked to reach out and set up appointments with parents of struggling students. The committee also suggests that schools hold classes to inform parents about the rules, policies, procedures of the school; schedule two compensatory days during the calendar year; plan elementary and secondary fall conferences in separate weeks; and allow flexibility for principals and staff to tailor events according to site needs.

USBA’s Master Board Designation

Board member Mont Millerberg presented information about the Utah School Boards Association’s Master Board Award Program, created to help schools boards become more effective governing bodies and advocates for their constituents and public education. The program, which Board members, Superintendent Briscoe, and Business Administrator Leon Wilcox indicated they would do, is designed for members of school boards to annually complete sections on strategic learning, continuing education, professional improvement, and advanced development.  

Policy Updates

The Board of Education approved updates to the policies and school-level guidelines governing electronic devices at schools and the acceptable use of the technology network. The Board also is considering  an update to the policy and framework governing the Teacher and Student Success Act.


Office of Planning and Enrollment Director Dr. Floyd Stensrud provided an update to the Board about the approved 2020-2021 school year calendar and the tentative 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school year calendars. Survey responses regarding future potential Snow Days were presented, as well.  


The following students and faculty were recognized by the Board of Education for their achievements:
  • Kathy Bitner, Draper Park Middle counselor, who was named Utah Counselor of the Year by the Utah School Counselor Association
  • Students from Brighton, Corner Canyon, Jordan and Hillcrest for being named semi-finalists in the National Merit Scholarship competition.
Flag Presentation, Inspirational Thoughts

The Brighton High Accadians presented the American and state flags and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Principal Tom Sherwood spotlighted Brighton High successes, including new AP capstone program, one of eight in the state among Utah public schools.  Brighton, now being rebuilt with funds from the $283 million bond approved by voters in 2017,  also is experiencing success in DLI. The French-English DLI AP pass rate was 83 percent, and the Mandarin Chinese-English pass rate was 63 percent, the second-highest in Utah. He thanked the school community members for their patience and cooperation during the school’s construction, expected to be completed in 2021. 

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes from the Oct. 1, 2019 meeting of the Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel requests; September Financial Reports;  2019-2020 Utah Grant Application; TSSP Amendments for Draper, East Midvale and Sunrise elementary schools; approval of new Canyons Foundation Board member and president-elect; and the approval of the interlocal agreement with Unified Police for school resource officers. 

Patron Comment

Parent Patrick Wright expressed concerns about the operations and protocols of a special-education program for students with behavioral issues that is housed at Jordan Valley, Canyons’ school for children with severe disabilities.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe wished the Canyons community a safe and relaxing Fall Recess, Oct. 17-18. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox noted the Oct. 1 enrollment report, which shows CSD has record number of students. Enrollment at most CSD high schools is on the upswing but the District administration is carefully watching the minor decreases at elementary schools. 

Board Member Reports

Mr. Mont Millerberg reported on the grant-review process for the Foundation’s Innovation Grants, which are funded with donations earned at events such as the 10th annual golf tournament on Sept. 18. He also thanked staff members for the planning and executing the recent School Community Council trainings. 

Mrs. Amber Shill expressed appreciation to those who helped conduct the SCC trainings.  She attended Monday’s tours of construction sites at Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, projects being completed with funds from the voter-approved $283 million bond.  It’s been a community effort to graciously handle the inconveniences of the construction site, she said.

Mr. Steve Wrigley noted the success of the SCC trainings and the work that is being done in District committees that have been meeting throughout the month.

Mr. Chad Iverson said the enrollment report will be helpful as the Long Range Planning Committee continues to study the needs of the District.  He also reported on a recent Town Hall meeting he held with fellow Board member Amanda Oaks. He also said he attended cross country races, marching band competitions, football games, and musical performances. 

President Nancy Tingey thanked those who participated in SCC trainings. She invited the community to an Oct. 22 Town Hall meeting she is holding with Mr. Wrigley at Eastmont Middle and a Nov. 6 meeting at Albion Middle with Mrs. Shill.  She thanked Cottonwood Heights for honoring the Teacher of the Year in the city’s schools.   
What would you do if you had to break up a fight between inmates?  Or if an inmate was threatening self-harm?  Or asking you to bend rules of the in exchange for a favor? These are all situations that a corrections officer could face upon arriving for the first day of work at a jail. 

Students in the criminal justice program at the Canyons Technical Education Center put their skills and knowledge to the test when they faced simulations of real-life jail incidents that were done by “actors” who were given direction on how to talk and act by local law-enforcement agencies. 

The simulations, held Oct. 10-11, 2019 at CSD’s Crescent View building, 11150 S. 300 East, were eye-opening for students who are in the class and are mulling a career in law-enforcement.

The focus of the exercise was to help the 17- and 18-year-old students see first-hand what kind of situations they would need to handle in the real world of criminal justice.

The groups of students were asked to de-escalate physical and verbal situations between inmates, handle issues that could require medical assistance, and face inmates who are expressing suicidal tendencies. 

 “We’ve never done this kind of a simulation before,” says instructor Edwin Lehauli, “but we want our students to get a pretty good look at what it is like to be a corrections officer.” 

One simulation caught Alta senior Braedyn Sendizik by surprise. He said he wasn’t quite sure how to respond to the actors playing the inmates.  “They kept trying to draw me in — and I got too drawn in instead of shutting it down” and insisting that directives be followed, he said.

“I learned from it,” he said, “and next time I will know better.”

Fellow Alta student Garrett Boland, who is eyeing a career as a lawyer, faced a simulation that required him to get inmates in their cells at the end of a day. “I learned to be aware of just about everything,” he said, noting that his instructor had tipped the class off to manipulation techniques often used by inmates so students would be prepared in the simulations.

“This definitely taught me a lot. It’s a learning experience for sure but it’s also a lot of fun,” Sendizik said. “It’s like the real world. You have be ready for everything.  You have to know what you are walking into.”
Canyons District student-athletes from all five of Canyons’ comprehensive traditional high schools are acing serves and exams, scoring points both on the playing field and in the classroom, and persevering through tough quizzes and race courses.  

Twenty-four students who are vying for athletic victories in volleyball, football, cross country, girls tennis, girls soccer, and boys golf also have won honors for excelling in academics. The following have been named as Academic All-State Award recipients in fall sports sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association.

  • Cole Hagen, Corner Canyon 
  • Connor Lewis, Corner Canyon
  • Dallan Nelson, Corner Canyon
  • Randen Grimshaw, Corner Canyon
  • Steve Street, Corner Canyon
  • Jordan Falls, Alta
  • Ty Didericksen, Alta 
  • Blake Yates, Brighton
  • Douglas Smith II, Hillcrest
  • Emma White, Corner Canyon
  • Lauryn Nichols, Corner Canyon
  • Jessica Pike, Jordan 
  • Elle Wilson, Brighton
  • Quentin Cook, Brighton
  • Annika Manwaring, Corner Canyon 
  • Kenli Coon, Corner Canyon 
  • Caroline Murri, Alta 
  • Catherine Schumann, Alta 
  • Courtney Ebeling, Brighton 
  • Dylan Zito, Brighton 
  • Sarah Miller, Hillcrest 
  • Sydney Hurst, Hillcrest 
  • Camryn Young, Corner Canyon
  • Kate Marler, Brighton
  • Alexandra Paradis, Hillcrest
  • Cooper Gardiner, Corner Canyon 
  • Mark Boyle, Corner Canyon 
  • Caylor Willis,Hillcrest 
  • Dallin Moon, Hillcrest
  • Daniel Call, Hillcrest 
  • Nathan Diggins, Hillcrest 
  • Zakia Kirby, Hillcrest
  • Grace Poulson, Corner Canyon
  • Mia Affleck, Alta 
  • Laura Lundahl, Brighton
  • Kaitlyn Sterner, Jordan
  • Megan Fernandez,  Jordan 
  • Emily Rimmasch,  Hillcrest 
  • Emily Zhang, Hillcrest
Chemistry is a challenging discipline. There are up to 118 elements to commit to memory and a language to learn for expressing chemical equations, not to mention the math involved.

But Gretchen Carr believes the reason most students find it difficult is they’ve been told it’s difficult. “Chemistry is notoriously hard. But so are a lot of things,” the Jordan High Chemistry teacher says. Trouble is, while some students shrink from challenges and seem devastated by small setbacks, others persevere and view setbacks as part of the learning process, exhibiting what’s become known in education circles as a “growth mindset.” It’s a term coined years ago to describe how some people perceive learning and intelligence as acquirable through hard work, instead of believing we’re born with fixed talents and abilities. It’s also something Carr is striving this year to teach her students along with the Periodic Table and acid-base reactions.

“I find a lot of kids are afraid of failure and they don’t want to go through the learning process of trying it and revising their work, and trying it again and revising it again,” Carr says. “So, I’ve made it a goal to make all students feel more welcome and free to make mistakes without people, including their classmates, coming down on them.”

Teachers have long understood that there’s more to school than reading, writing and arithmetic. So much of what students glean from their time in the classroom, the lunchroom, or interacting with peers has to do with developing the life skills and character traits they’ll need as adults. Increasingly, however, schools are becoming more sophisticated in how they approach these life lessons.  flop2

As students bustle into Carr’s classroom, they’re greeted by a sign that states, “Chemistry is hard. You can do hard things.” It’s Carr’s go-to statement with the going gets tough. Only this year, to help set the tone, she also shared with students a TED talk by Carol Dweck about the power of the word “yet” to reframe feelings of inadequacy.

“Instead of saying, ‘I’m just not good at math or chemistry or sports,’ you say, ‘I’m just not good at chemistry, math or sports…yet,’” Carr explains. It’s a word that can trigger confidence and renewed enthusiasm for learning, and build character-traits, such as the resilience to persist through failure, Dweck and her colleagues have found. The growth mindset, in other words, is teachable, and science is a surprisingly natural starting place.

Iteration is integral to the scientific process, which is an important lesson for students to learn in preparation for college and the knowledge-based careers of the future, believes Carr who has come up with some creative ways for students to comfortably practice observing, experimenting, revising and trying again.

On the second day of school, she tasked teams of students to build Go Karts from a handful of straws, Life Saver candies and some paper and tape. “It was an engineering exercise, and most of the students would call the first running of the Go Karts their great first flop,” she says.

But that’s the point. Initially, students assumed they were racing. But when they learned they would get a chance to improve upon their designs, and were told it was a success if their second design went further than the first — even if by a few inches — that’s when they got excited, Carr says. “Now, when I talk in class and mention the growth mindset, maybe they’ll recognize it’s time to take courage, experiment and not give up.”

Discussing the growth mindset in class is something that happens to be outside Carr’s comfort zone. “I’m no expert in this,” she says. “A psychology or English class seems like more of a forum for teaching this kind of thing.” But she’s feeling pretty positive about the experience and believes it’s making a difference for some students.

It takes some forethought and planning, but doesn’t take anything away from her daily instruction, Carr says. Like any good scientist, she’ll continue observing how different strategies work and make adjustments as needed. “We’ll see how it plays out throughout the year,” Carr says. “I’m sure there are ways I can build on it.”
It’s the parenting dilemma of the digital age: How do we encourage our children to take advantage of all that technology affords while protecting them from the documented dangers of too much screen time? How do we model a healthy use of technology when we, too, fight the allure of smart phones and social media?

At Canyons District, the safe and responsible use of technology — or, good digital citizenship — is promoted every day in our classrooms, and it’s not just about teaching students to safely navigate the Internet. We empower students to put their smartphones, tablets and computers to best use to explore the world, gain knowledge and connect — and we invite parents to participate.

October has been designated Think Safe Month in Canyons District, which kicks off with Digital Citizenship Week, Oct. 14-16. CSD’s Internet safety effort started with School Community Councils, which have been given statutory responsibilities regarding digital citizenship in their respective schools — responsibilities that are now growing to encompass other safety measures. October

The Utah Legislature, through HB213, has asked SCC's to “engage” with school administrators around the topics of school safety. In the coming weeks, principals will invite their Councils to become familiar with the District’s safety protocols, discuss school safety needs, set goals and share highlights from their discussion with the District. To help spark these conversations, the District has prepared an online report detailing all Canyons does in the name of keeping schools welcoming, secure and prepared.

Canyons’ Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards encourages SCC’s to begin reviewing this report now. “The safety and welfare of children is a communitywide effort. Our patrons, parent volunteers and law enforcement agencies are valuable partners in this endeavor and we value their input.”

Lockdowns copySchool safety has always been a topic of discussion — and action — in Canyons District. Some safety measures are obvious, such as the emergency drills schools practice throughout the year. Other safety measures are less obvious, such as the Internet filters used by schools to prevent students from inadvertently accessing inappropriate content online (see infographic below).

In partnership with SCC’s during Digital Citizenship Week, schools will reinforce what it means to behave safely while online and participate responsibly in our digital world through lessons, activities and assemblies. Parents, teachers and students can join the online conversation about Digital Citizenship Week by following the hashtag #usetech4good on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tips also are available on Canyons District’s website for reinforcing these teachings at home. 

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