It's official: School will start on Aug. 24 in 2016. The Board of Education on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 approved the 2016-2017 academic calendar following extensive feedback from the public.

"This is a decision we haven't taken lightly," Board Second Vice President Nancy Tingey said.

The Board approved the calendar following input from nearly 250 patrons responding to an online survey open in October and November 2014, as well as recommendations by the District Calendar Committee, comprised of 23 parents, teachers, and school employees. The 2016-2017 calendar schedules school to start Aug. 24, 2016, end June 7, 2017. The calendar also includes a two-day Fall Recess, a three-day Thanksgiving Recess, a Winter Recess starting on Dec. 21 and ending on Jan. 2, and a Spring Recess during the first full week of April. In addition, the calendar includes 3.5 contract days for teachers before school starts.

The calendar is similar to that tentatively approved by the Board in 2013. Earlier this fall, the Calendar Committee proposed revising the calendar to start and end school one week earlier than shown on the tentatively approved calendar. The Board sought additional public input on the calendar proposal. Nearly 250 patrons responded to an online survey, and overwhelmingly favored the calendar with the Aug. 24 start date. The Calendar Committee reconvened to consider the additional input, and recommended the now-approved calendar.
A new era of leadership in Canyons District was ushered in on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 with a ceremonial Oath of Office and a packed-with-supporters reception for the newly seated Canyons Board of Education..

It was an electric night for new Board members Clareen Arnold, who will represent the Sandy communities in District 4, and Amber Shill, who will serve the Cottonwood Heights neighborhoods in District 2.  Family and friends flanked Arnold and Shill throughout the evening, and posed for photos immediately following the swearing-in ceremonies performed by Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen. 

Re-elected Board members, Sherril Taylor, who has represented District 6 since Canyons’ founding in 2009, and Steve Wrigley, the representative in District 5, which covers White City and parts of Sandy, also were sworn into office at the event held in the Board Chambers of the Canyons Support Services Center, 9361 S. 300 East. Family, friends, and campaign supporters applauded Taylor and Wrigley at the historic occasion, as well.

The four join Robert Green, Chad Iverson, and Nancy Tingey on the duly-elected Board that provides governance for the 34,000-student District serving Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Sandy, Midvale and the town of Alta. This Board, just the fourth elected in the District’s history, is the first new Board since the appointment of new Superintendent Jim Briscoe in April 2014.

In addition, Board members re-elected Taylor as the Board President, Wrigley as the first vice-president, and Tingey as the second vice-president. 

Board members begin their work as the District starts the final phase of new-school construction that was promised as part of the 2010 voter-approved bond, and advances toward the completion of the second full year of grade reconfiguration. The Board also will be the first to see the student-achievement data culled from the college- and career-ready academic plan that included changes to the middle and elementary school schedule and the implementation of a standards-based report card for elementary school students. 

Shill, who has children in Canyons schools and has spent countless hours as a classroom volunteer as well as a School Community Council leader, publicly thanked friends, family, and campaign supporters. She said the decision to run for a seat on the school board “was not taken lightly,” and pledged to focus on ensuring excellent schools for Canyons families, maintaining open lines of communication, and actively inviting community participation in the governance process. Shill said she “looks forward to the challenges ahead.”

Arnold expressed appreciation for the support she received along the campaign trail.  “It was so much fun meeting and talking to so many people,” she said. “Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve you on the Canyons Board of Education.” Arnold, a veteran educator, said she draws inspiration from her experience as a student who initially struggled with literacy and basic mathematical concepts. School became fun and exciting, Arnold said, when she found success in a secondary-school geometry class. From there, she set her sights on becoming an educator who was dedicated to helping all kinds of students. Arnold, the parent of nine children and grandmother to 19, said she will strive to “ensure educational quality for all children, to be a voice for the educators, and to be an advocate for every one of you.”

Wrigley thanked his wife and family for their support and “for sharing me with the District.” Wrigley said he’s humbled by the opportunity to serve for another term, and enjoys the energy of the new Board. “We know whom we serve, and look forward to doing great things together,” he said. “I promise to continue to be your voice in education.”  Wrigley pledged to serve as an advocate for children and families, maintain open lines of communication, and ensure the wise expenditure of taxpayer funds.

“In our home,” Taylor said, “education is everything.” Both Taylor and his wife, Pat, are retired educators.  “What this job on the Board boils down to is the students,” he said.  “If we ever lose sight of that, we don’t deserve to be here.  We should never lose sight of that.”  He expressed appreciation for fellow Board members and their willingness to serve. “It takes a lot of time to be a good Board member,” he said.  “I am so grateful to serve on this Board.  It is a true blessing.  I don’t take it for granted.”

Put it on your calendars:  The Canyons District community is invited to a reception and Oath of Office ceremony for the newly elected members of the Canyons Board of Education.

The Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 event will be at the Canyons Support Services Center, 9361 S. 300 East.

The 7 p.m. reception will be in the Professional Development Center, and the Oath of Office ceremony will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Board Chambers. Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen will administer the swearing-in ceremonies. 

Board members Sherril Taylor, who represents District 6, and Steve Wrigley, the representative for District 5, were re-elected to the Board, and Amber Shill and Clareen Arnold will join the Board for their first terms in Districts 2 and 4, respectively. The four will join Robert Green, Chad Iverson, and Nancy Tingey on the elected board. 

When it comes to matters of money, Canyons School District is in good hands. Canyons District, under the leadership of CFO Leon Wilcox, has earned the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association.

The award is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting, and represents a significant achievement in following nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation as established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA'’s best practices on budgeting. Honorees are by selected members of the GFOA professional staff and outside reviewers with expertise in public-sector budgeting.

This is the fourth time that Canyons has received the award. 


The Board of Education paid tribute to the accomplishments of two inaugural Board Members, Kim Horiuchi and Tracy Scott Cowdell, at their final Board meeting on Dec. 2, 2014. Cowdell, who has represented the patrons of District 4 in Sandy, and Horiuchi, who has represented the patrons of District 2 in Cottonwood Heights, were elected to serve their communities in the former Jordan School District in 2006, and stood at the helm of Canyon's creation following the 2007 vote.

Cowdell served as Board President and Horiuchi as a Board Member during Canyons' first days of operation as Utah's first new school district in a century, and saw the District through to its crowning achievements of today. In that time, the Board of seven elected officials crafted an ambitious college- and career-ready academic plan; reconfigured grades to place ninth-graders in high schools and sixth-graders in middle schools; earned voter approval of a $250 million bond used to build a brand new high school and add to, renovate and rebuild seven schools to date; and awarded CSD college- and career-ready diplomas to high school graduates – a first in the state of Utah. The Board also kept tax rates stable, preserved jobs and protected employee benefits during times of deep economic recession, Board Second Vice President Nancy Tingey noted.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to have served alongside you in this great and historic endeavor," Tingey said. "Please accept our deepest appreciation for your vision, your sacrifices, and your unfailing commitment to serving the patrons and students of our community. On this occasion, the words of John F. Kennedy come to mind: 'As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.'"

The Board and Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe presented Cowdell and Horiuchi with gifts including framed photographs and a slideshow; CSD-logo jackets; and a plaque honoring them for their service. They also relayed personal stories and memories of working with Cowdell and Horiuchi.

"The sound judgment, great ideas and all they've brought to this district have been inspiring to me," Board President Sherril Taylor said. "The kids will benefit in this District clear into the future from what's been done."

"You've set the foundation for the next 100 years," Vice President Steve Wrigley said. "You've left a legacy."

"You've set the bar in the state of Utah," Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said. "You have never compromised on your vision."

Cowdell, whose family has lived in Sandy for six generations, said he's learned a great deal from his Board service, including: We cannot be afraid to lead out, that there's a time for humor, that "winging it" is a bad idea, and that it's one thing to campaign, it's quite another to govern, and that it's important to do what's right, even when it means not keeping the peace. "Over the last 8 years I've never stopped thinking about the students and the staff," Cowdell said. "Life is not about accumulation, but contribution, and I'm very satisfied with the contributions I've made in my time here. Thank you ... I'm going to miss you all."

Horiuchi said she ran for the Board in 2006 to affect positive change in public education. "It was what I thought it would be, and much, much more." She said starting the District took courage and tenacity, but that it was worth it. She remembered the words of Winston Churchill: "'Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.' I hope that my friends in this room will keep our vision for CSD going. It is worth it. We have accomplished amazing things for our students, and no one can take that away."

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