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The Board of Education, acting as a Board of Canvassers, on Tuesdsay, Nov. 21, 2017 voted unanimously to accept the tally of the votes in the Nov. 7 bond election — the results of which will enable the District to immediately continue building up Canyons with modern, safe and welcoming schools.   

According to the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office, 57.8 percent of the 51,429 residents who cast ballots voted in favor of the District’s $283 million bond proposal. Some 42.2 percent voted against the tax-rate-neutral measure. Voter turnout was 48.2 percent.  A canvas, or an examination, of the returns is required two weeks after an election. 

Funds garnered through a series of issuances will be used on 11 major construction and renovation projects. This includes rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, a significant renovation of Alta High, a rebuild of Union Middle, rebuilds of Peruvian Park and Midvalley elementary schools, a new school in the White City area, and a new school in the west Draper section of the District. Offices at six elementary schools will be remodeled, classrooms will replace the portables at Corner Canyon High, and 18 other elementary schools also will get windows and skylights to bring in natural light to classrooms and hallways.

With the vote of confidence, the District is moving quickly to realize the facility-improvement plans created at the outset of the bond proposal. On Tuesday night, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance of up to $49 million in general-obligation bonds to pay for construction and for refunding certain obligations of the District for a cost savings. The bonds can be sold after the required 30-day contest period of the bond election.

The Board already has selected the general contractors to oversee the construction of new Brighton and Hillcrest high schools and the major renovation at Alta High. An architectural firm also has been selected to design the new Union Middle. Even with the actions, the Board members have firmly emphasized that no project-priority list has been approved.  The contract approvals simply secure a price for contractor work. The Board will continue its discussions regarding project timetables at an upcoming meeting.

After the Board officially accepted the ballot count, Board 1st Vice President Nancy Tingey noted the successful bond vote came nearly 10 years to the day that residents in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta voted to create a new school district, which eventually became Canyons. “This is historic,” Tingey said. “I think it’s a major event for our District. Driving here (to the meeting) tonight, I was thinking back 10 years ago, when the District was created and what has been able to occur in the past 10 years in our community. I wanted to recognize that and celebrate that.”

The canvassed results show the majority of voters in every municipality in Canyons District voted in favor of the bond. In Cottonwood Heights and Midvale, 62.5 percent voted in favor of the measure. In Draper and Sandy, the figure reached 56.6 percent and 56 percent, respectively.

Canyons Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe congratulated the Board on the successful outcome. “It took courage to put the measure on the ballot,” he said, adding that the successful vote, and by such a significant margin, is a reflection “of how the general public feels about the direction of the District.” 

Board President Sherril Taylor said the state of the facilities on the east side of the old Jordan District was a major reason why residents voted to create CSD. An architectural review done at the District’s founding indicated that CSD buildings needed $650 million in needed repairs.  Since 2010, when patrons approved a $250 million bond to start addressing the facility needs, CSD has completed 12 of 13 promised school-improvement projects. The 13th project, a renovation of Indian Hills Middle, is expected to be complete in time for the start of school in fall 2018.

The sense of excitement is nearly palpable, says member Mont Millerberg, who served on the Board when the 2010 bond proposal was approved with 50.66 percent of the vote. The buzz at Hillcrest High’s sold-out-every-night production of “Les Miserables” was the potential of having a state-of-the-art auditorium at the newly rebuilt school, Millerberg said.

“It really does boil down to the parents and the patrons,” President Taylor said, adding that many of the bond supporters no longer have children in Canyons District schools.  “They realize that we are paying forward to the future. I am proud of my generation for doing that and voting for the bond to take care of their grandchildren and other peoples’ children.  We would not be the country we are without public education, I guarantee that.”
Wednesday, 22 November 2017 17:57

Board Meeting Summary, Nov. 21, 2017

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

The Canyons Board of Education, acting as the Board of Canvassers, voted unanimously to accept the result of the Nov. 7 bond election. According to figures provided by the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office, 57.8 percent of the 51,429 residents who cast ballots voted in favor of the District’s $283 million bond proposal. Some 42.2 percent voted against the tax-rate-neutral measure. Voter turnout was 48.2 percent. Proceeds from the issuances will be used on 11 major construction and renovation projects, including rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, a significant renovation of Alta High, a rebuild of Union Middle, rebuilds of Peruvian Park and Midvalley elementary schools, a new school in the White City area, and a new school in the west Draper section of the District. Offices at six elementary schools will be remodeled, classrooms will replace the portables at Corner Canyon High, and 18 other elementary schools also will get windows and skylights to bring in natural light to classrooms and hallways. Board 1st Vice President Nancy Tingey noted the successful bond vote came nearly 10 years to the day that residents in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta voted to create a new school district, which eventually became Canyons. Board President Sherril Taylor reminded the Board members and the administration that the state of the facilities on the east side of the old Jordan District was a major reason why residents voted to create CSD. At the outset of Canyons, an architectural review of the buildings showed $650 million in needed repairs. Since 2010, when CSD patrons approved a $250 million bond to start addressing the facility needs, CSD has completed 12 of 13 promised school-improvement projects. The 13th project, a renovation of Indian Hills Middle, is expected to be complete in time for the start of school in fall 2018. The Board also adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance of up to $49 million in general-obligation bonds and for refunding certain obligations of the District for a cost savings.  This can be done after the required 30-day contest period of the bond election.
Sunrise Elementary teacher Patricia Stephens-French froze when the door to her classroom opened and a crowd of folks in blue shirts filed in. She took one look at the giant check in the hands of a member of the Canyons Education Foundation and she knew exactly what was happening: her wish was about to come true.

Each year, Canyons’ Education Foundation raises funds to offer grants to teachers with big ideas in Canyons District. Teachers apply to receive the $1,000 to $10,000 grants based on their innovative ideas on how to enhance teaching in their classrooms through technology, materials or supplemental programs. 

The teachers come from all subject areas — from math and science to music and language — with requests ranging from iPads to instrumental clinicians. This year, more than $104,000 will be delivered to 16 Innovation Grant recipients throughout the District.

“I’m shaking — you guys, this is so amazing,” Stephens-French told her students as she took her check for $4,049 into her hands. “We are going to have so much fun!”

Stephens-French, who teaches a fifth-grade SALTA class, submitted her grant application to be able to purchase technology to allow her students opportunities to explore alternative ways to share their knowledge with the world.

Teachers requested robotics kits, a 3-D printer, printmaking supplies, Google cardboard, and music experts and recording equipment to add to their classroom instruction. The Foundation has awarded Innovation Grants to teachers since 2011, after working with members of the community to raise funds to support the educational experience of Canyons’ students.

Each year, the Foundation hosts two fundraisers to generate funds to benefit Canyons’ students. An annual golf tournament is used to raise funds for Innovation Grants. An annual gala is used to raise funds for student scholarships. The next golf tournament is scheduled for Sept. 19, 2018. The gala is April 19.

For Stephens-French, the support she received through receiving an Innovation Grant is vital. Through her grant, she will receive 10 iPads, a cart, three microphones, a Green Screen and three stands.

“We’ll have a chance to be super creative in here,” Stephens-French said. “The possibilities are just endless.”
Jordan High is playing a part in the Chilean government’s history.

Thanks to connections Jordan High Assistant Principal Roberto Jimenez has made in the Chilean community, the Canyons District school was asked to serve as the polling place for Chileans living in the Beehive State who wanted a cast a ballot in that country’s presidential election.  

Jimenez was approached by officials in the Chilean government who were looking for a polling place in Utah. The Chile voting officials also arranged for polling places in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle. 

Jimenez, who is an American citizen but whose family members are from Chile, met and corresponded with the Consul General in Los Angeles in preparation for the vote. “They asked for a place to be, we asked to our district officials, and we were on,” Jimenez said. “It’s been very exciting to be a part of this historic election.”    

This is the first election in the history of Chile in which Chileans are permitted to vote from abroad. A law enacted in 2016 gave the 450,000 Chileans residing abroad the right to vote in presidential primaries, national referendums and first and second round presidential elections. 

Some 123 Chilean citizens living in Utah went through the voter-registration process to vote in the 2017 election. Sixty-four cast ballots on Sunday.

“I think it’s a lesson in civic duty,” Jimenez told ABC4 anchor Emily Clark in a post-election interview.  “To think that people who live so far away from their country, thousands of miles away, they take the time to drive for hours, for two or three hours, to get to Jordan High to cast their vote.”   

The vote required a room big enough to have a table for three officials from the consulate and a voting booth that is far enough away from the officials to guarantee privacy. 

The school hosted the Chilean presidential July 2 primaries and the Nov. 19 general election. Because the Chilean president is elected by the absolute majority of valid votes, if no candidate obtains such a majority a special runoff between the two candidates with the most votes from the general election will be held Sunday, Dec. 17.  This vote also will be held at the home of the Beetdiggers.
Something has changed at Midvale Middle School.

The building itself has changed from its model built in 1955 — everything from the design of the logo to the colors of the hallways, the bright and airy library, cutting-edge cooling and heating systems, and plentiful electrical outlets. But since the new iteration of the school opened its doors this summer, Midvale Middle Principal Mindy Robison is noticing another kind of transformation that is happening in her halls.

“I think there is a motivation that is different,” Robison says. “Something about the new building has sent a message to the kids that we believe in you, and people are in awe of it. I think it sends a different message about how we value the kids. The kids really sense that.”

Midvale Middle was one of the 13 major construction projects promised to CSD patrons at the passage of a $250 million general-obligation bond in 2010. The 13th project, a renovation of Indian Hills Middle, is expected to be done in time for the first day of school this fall. At that time, plans for the the next phase of CSD’s new-school and renovation efforts, funded with proceeds from a just-approved $283 million bond, will be well underway.

Eleven major projects will be done with funds from the 2017 bond. While a priority list has not been determined by the Canyons Board of Education, contractors for rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools and a scheduled significant remodel of Alta High were chosen by the Board of Education on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 in order to secure a price for the contractor work before construction costs escalate.  An architect for the new Union Middle was chosen, as well.  Architects for the projects at Brighton, Hillcrest and Alta had been selected Sept. 5, 2017 in accordance with state procurement guidelines and during a regularly scheduled and appropriately noticed public meeting. 

The impact of being in a new school stimulates students’ desire to come to school, Robison says, but the effect goes farther than the cool new cafeteria. Kids want to be in the building, and teachers feel excited to come to work, she says. But even members of the community who don’t have children in the school came to celebrate the school’s opening, and the ripple effect is not limited only to Midvale City.

The impact of new school buildings has been shown to increase student achievement, raise property values and contribute to local economies, according to several studies on the relationship between school construction and communities. While safety, technological accessibility and student needs drive decisions to rebuild and remodel schools, studies show that new-school construction also increases enrollment, boosts student and teacher pride and lifts property values.

“An improved or new school says to the kids, technology is part of the world in which you live,” says Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini, a long-time educator and advocate for students. “It says to the kids, ‘You are really important and we really care about your learning and how you are doing.’ It says you can’t stop trying, you have to keep looking at new ways of looking at the futhankyou.jpgture.”

According to a 2011 study published by the Institute of Labor Economics, an economic research institute based in Germany, school construction positively impacts student test scores, school enrollment and home prices. In the study, Yale researchers examined a poor, urban school district based in New Haven, Conn.,  as it embarked on a 15-year plan to revitalize its schools. The study found that trends in reading scores in the district trended upward in the year of construction of the new school and continued to increase for the next six years. Home values increased by 1.3 percent per $10,000 of per-student expenditure and student enrollment increased by 4.4 percent.

A 2008 study of California school districts published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that investments in school facilities yield increases in both math and reading scores. They gauged the effects of new or renovated schools to be “about one-third as large as the effect of reducing class sizes from 22 to 15 students.”

Communities that invest in schools see immediate returns. Enrollment has increased at several new schools in Canyons District. At Mount Jordan Middle, student enrollment jumped from 732 students in 2013 to 941 in 2017, just two years after the new school was completed in 2015. Enrollment at Butler Elementary increased from 505 students in 2014 to 549 students in 2016, when the new school opened. The new Midvale Elementary grew from 738 students in 2010 to 822 students the year the school was completed in 2012, and Midvale Middle enrollment grew from 803 students in 2014 to 919 students in 2017, when the school opened.

In Cottonwood Heights, Canyons’ efforts to rebuild and remodel aging schools has revitalized the city, Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore says.  The District’s school-improvement plan is one major factor that has led to a 4 percent increase in the sale price of existing homes in the town, he says. According to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, Cottonwood Heights is one of just four cities in Salt Lake County that had an overall increase in the sales price of existing homes since 2007.

“It has made a huge difference in the appeal of our community,” Cullimore says, as he points to a new Butler Middle School, new Butler Elementary, new tennis courts, new football and soccer fields, improvements to Brighton High and a partnership creation of popular Mountview Park as evidence of the impact the District has had on the town. “We have a fabulous relationship with the school district and are able to have the community take ownership of and pride in the schools in our municipal boundaries.”
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