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

Board Summary


Members of the Board of Education discussed their various committee assignments. Board members serve on such external panels as the Board of the Canyons Education Foundation, the Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Utah School Boards Association, and Cities that Care-Draper. Internally, Board members serve on CSD Arts, Audit, Policy, Facilities, Arts, RDA/CDA, Incident Command, Dual Language Immersion, Calendar, Curriculum, Health, and Vision Mission and Values committees. 

Legislative Preview

School safety, equalization, ongoing funding, and secondary-school fees are among the education-related issues expected to surface during the 2019 General Session of the Utah Legislature. External Affairs Director Charlie Evans updated the Board on the District’s approach to representing CSD on Capitol Hill during the 45-day session. CSD representatives will be monitoring committees and floor debates with an eye toward informing budget and policy discussions. Evans said Board members will receive daily updates about the progress of education-related bills. 

Partial Federal Government Shutdown

Students who qualify for free- and reduced-price lunches will continue to be served even if the federal government shutdown continues several more weeks. According to the USDA, the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program will continue operations into March. That said, CSD policy is to provide a meal to every student, regardless of their ability to pay in that moment. Employees also have been directed to not ask students for meal payments. It’s the District’s intention to maintain the meal program uninterrupted, even with the partial shutdown. The District also will still receive reimbursements for all U.S. Department of Education grants, including IDEA, Title I, Title IIA, and Title III, until September.

Small Capital Projects Update

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox updated the Board on plans to improve schools. Bidding for Front Office upgrade projects at Sunrise, Granite and Oakdale started on Jan. 22, and the Board is expected to review and approve bids in February and March. Construction is scheduled to begin in June. On Jan. 31, bids will open for daylighting projects at Oakdale, Quail Hollow, Crescent, Sunrise, Canyon View, Granite, East Midvale, and Sandy. The Board will review the bids in March, and construction is expected to start in June. Those projects were promised to the public when voters approved a $283 million bond in November 2017. Wilcox also discussed other proposed summer 2019 projects, including a $1.8 million mechanical upgrade and  $300,000 carpet installation at Jordan High, and a $1.1 million CAB-East remodel of current central-office work spaces and HVAC upgrade. Wilcox also presented proposals for 2020 projects. 

Board Meeting Schedule

The Board of Education discussed a proposed meeting schedule for 2019-2020.

Consent Agenda

The Board voted to approve the Consent Agenda, including minutes from the Dec. 18, 2019 meeting of the Board of Education; minutes from the Jan. 8 meeting of the Board; hire and termination reports; request for student overnight travel; December Financial Reports; purchasing bids; LAND Trust amendments for Bella Vista Elementary; and administrative appointments. 

Yearbook Policy

The Board of Education approved updates to the District’s high school yearbook policy. The policy calls for the price of the books to be reviewed by the Office of School Performance and removes language that is inconsistent with the local school practice of taking of individual yearbook pictures.

Pledge of Allegiance, Reverence

The colors were posted by Boy Scouts who attend Indian Hills Middle. The reverence was presented by Indian Hills Middle Principals Doug Graham, who said the school has a solid balance of high-quality core classes and elective programs. The middle school has a robust enrollment even though it’s a landlocked area with not a lot of construction growth, he said. He also said the faculty is dedicated to removing any barriers to learning for the students.

Public Comment

Facilities Department employee Merlyn Rhodes, who is retiring this year after a 40-year career, thanked the Board of Education for making decisions that benefit employees, students, and families. 

Parent Lorena Milner urged the Board to consider adopting policies that would restrict or prohibit rewarding students with food, especially junk food, for academic or behavioral progress.

Patron Steve Van Maren asked the District to send regular communications to all patrons of the District.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe reported on attending the Utah School Boards Association Conference. He also announced the appointments of Cindy Hanson and McKay Robinson as the new School Performance Directors. They will replace Mike Sirois and Joanne Ackerman, who are retiring. In the posts, they will join Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bob Dowdle and Alice Peck in supervising the schools. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox reported on attending the USBA conference, congratulated Amber Shill for her election to Vice President of the USBA, and commented on the good work of bus drivers who drive in the winter weather. He recognized Merlyn Rhodes and congratulated him for a long and successful career. 

Board Reports

Mr. Chad Iverson thanked School Performance Director Mike Sirois for his years of service.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold reported on the Incident Command Committee discussions and her attendance at the Legislative Luncheon with the elected officials who represent Canyons District. She also reported on attending the Utah School Boards Association Conference. She thanked the custodians for clearing the walks of snow and ice before students and teachers arrived on Tuesday after Monday’s snow storm.

Mr. Steve Wrigley said the District’s Wellness Committee has discussed policies that would discourage rewarding students with food. He reported on attending the Student Advisory Council meeting, the USBA conference, and the District’s Legislative Luncheon. He also encouraged Board members to complete the “master boards” training program of the USBA. 

Mrs. Amber Shill updated the community on UHSAA discussions surrounding sanctioning cheerleading and girls wrestling. He also reported on attending the USBA conference. She thanked staff members for planning the Oath of Office ceremony for new Board members.

Mrs. Amanda Oaks attended several legislative-update meetings. She also said she enjoyed the USBA conference, thanked the Education Support Professionals who work in CSD schools, and congratulated the fifth-grade teachers at Draper Elementary who received the statewide award for science education.

Mr. Mont Millerberg welcomed Mrs. Oaks to the Board, complimented the Calendar Committee for “scheduling a snow storm on a holiday,” and commented on the positive impact that retirees have on our schools. He also reported on attending the holiday program at Peruvian Park Elementary and the Homecoming Dance at Jordan Valley School.

President Tingey thanked employees for touching the lives of children every day.  She also thanked those who assisted to the responses at Jordan High, including the Sandy Police.  She hopes the community can continue to work together to provide safe and welcoming learning environments to students. 
Canyons District’s graduation rate has reached a new high. Over the past seven years, the percent of high school seniors to graduate has climbed steadily to surpass the state average, rising from 83 percent in 2011 to 89 percent in 2018—an increase largely driven by the achievement of a group of students who typically face the greatest obstacles to academic success.

All of Canyons’ five traditional high schools have reason to celebrate. But Jordan and Hillcrest stand out with the biggest gains, buoyed by the success of low-income and minority students and English language learners. “What’s most compelling about these numbers is that it’s not just a one- or two-year bump. We’re talking about significant, sustained improvement,” says CSD’s Research and Assessment Director Hal Sanderson, Ph.D.

GradRateOverall copySome of the improvement is attributed to the reconfiguration of CSD’s high schools to house grades 9-12. Doing so provided students with a more clearly-defined four-year path to graduation while also giving ninth-graders earlier exposure to more rigorous coursework. But the data suggest there’s also something else at work. 

“This isn’t about a shiny new educational program, it’s about providing students—all students—what they need to succeed,” says Jordan High Principal Wendy Dau. “Students want to be seen and heard. They need role models who believe they can rise to high expectations and who can constructively help them overcome challenges. They need someone in their corner.”

With 31 percent of Canyons’ students qualifying as low-income, and 16 percent identifying as members of an ethnic minority group, District leaders recognized early the importance of working to close the achievement gap. “Since its inception in 2009, the District has embraced a vision of 100 percent student success,” says Hillcrest High Principal Greg Leavitt.

All student groups in Canyons District, including those with disabilities, are graduating in greater numbers. But the number of diploma-earning Hispanic and Latino students in CSD has grown at an especially steep rate, by a whopping 18 percentage points from 60 percent in 2011 to 78 percent in 2018. Students from low-income families and those learning English for the first time, also showed pronounced gains.

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Jordan and Hillcrest have implemented new programs to engage at-risk students during the summer as they transition from middle school to high school, but those programs are too new to have influenced graduation numbers. The reason for the students’ success may reach beyond grade reconfiguration and summer boot camps. 

“It really comes down to an every-day focus, and being disciplined about keeping tabs on school attendance, grades, and disciplinary issues, as well as building trusting relationships with students,” Leavitt says.

Hillcrest, for example, assigns struggling students to administrators who monitor their progress and check-in with them weekly. The school regularly sends credit reports to all parents, which map students’ progress toward graduation. They’ve built a 40-minute block of time into the school day for students to meet with faculty, seek extra help, and catch-up on homework. And they offer a credit-recovery lab where students can make up for lost time.

“Students, some of them newcomers to this country, who, because they come from devastating circumstances don’t have complete educational records, are able to earn original credit through this program,” Leavitt says.

Counselors at Hillcrest and Jordan also work to connect students and their families with social-emotional supports andpublic aid programs.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one student may not work for another,” says Dau. “But being organized about monitoring student progress is as non-negotiable as having committed teachers who choose to believe all students are capable of doing hard things.”


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Honoring a proud tradition, Canyons District is bidding a fond farewell to retiring colleagues. More than 30 employees have already made known their plans to make this school year their last—and whether they're withdrawing from active working life to travel or to be grandparents, we're confident the best is yet to come.

Some have devoted 40 years or more to Utah’s public school system, and many have worked for Canyons since the district’s inception in 2009. All of them have contributed to CSD’s success.

Please join us at Open Houses to celebrate the careers of these amazing teachers, administrators and Education Support Professionals.  To be added to the list, email the name of the retiree and the date, time and place of the Open House to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  •  An Open House for Russ Best will be Thursday, Jan. 31, 2-4 p.m. in the East Conference Room at the East Administration Building, 9361 S. 300 East in Sandy.
  • An Open House for Merlyn Rhoades will be Thursday, Jan. 312-4 p.m. in the Board Room at the East Administration Building, 9361 S. 300 East in Sandy.
The famed Battle of the Ax, one of Utah’s longest-standing high school sports rivalries, is celebrating its 50th anniversary to coincide with the 50th year of Brighton High.

It was the 1969 opening of Brighton, in fact, that led to the creation of the Bengals’ annual wrestling competition against Hillcrest High. Brighton was built to accommodate growth in the southeastern portion of Salt Lake County, and stood to inherit some of Hillcrest's students. Bengal wrestling coach Don Neff and Hillcrest coach Tex Casto came up with the traveling trophy as a way to build school pride while preserving a united spirit of community through sportsmanship.

This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at Brighton. It will be the last time that the competition will be held at the current Brighton campus—or the current Hillcrest campus, for that matter—because both schools are being completely rebuilt. Coaches Casto and Neff are expected to be honored at the event alongside former student wrestlers.

"In 50 years, a lot has changed. Computers fit in a pocket and phones no longer need a cord. Entertainment is on demand, and cars drive themselves," notes this Deseret News story about the competition's golden jubilee. "The one thing that has not changed is how two communities feel about a rivalry started 50 years ago by a couple of guys hoping to promote the sport of wrestling."

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If you have a child who is receiving special education services in the Canyons School District, we want to know more about your experience.

As part of a routine survey performed every other year by the Utah State Board of Education, the District has scheduled a focus group to receive input from parents and guardians regarding their child’s education. We value your input, so please join us (see flyer below for details).

The State Board will be interested in hearing about your involvement in the IEP process, eligibility for services and transition services. You’ll also have an opportunity to provide other general feedback. Questions? Please contact 801-826-5191.

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