The robust cheers heard throughout the Salt Lake Valley on Monday, Aug. 19 were likely from the back-to-school celebrations held at Canyons District schools.   

Per an 11-year tradition, principals rolled out red carpets to welcome students to the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers, principals, and parents, as well as Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe and members of the Canyons Board of Education, lined up to snap photos, cheer and give high-fives and fist bumps to the students headed into school for the first time of the school year.

Adding to the festivities were players from Real Salt Lake and Royals FC, the professional soccer players who compete at Rio Tinto Stadium, located within the Canyons District boundaries.  The players, who encouraged all the students to set their sights on reaching their goals, were accompanied by Leo the Lion, who attracted a crowd wherever he went.  

Elementary and middle school students also received a free pencil for their backpacks.  Another tool Canyons District is providing students is “social-emotional” training to make good decision, manage emotions and solve problems. After all, children can’t learn at high levels if they feel insecure, anxious, stressed or scared. 

BJ Weller, Canyons’ Responsive Services Director, appeared on ABC4 and KUTV on the first day of school to talk about how the District is helping children develop the confidence and character traits needed for success in life and school. This includes things like teaching students who to set and achieve goals, make and keep friends, and make responsible decisions.   

“We’re still teaching math, science, reading and writing … but we’re now cognizant of how, say the simple act of reading, can teach children empathy by exposing them to different perspectives or persisting with a math problem can teach perseverance,” he says.  “As a parent, you may hear your teacher refer to this as social-emotional learning. But it’s really best described as life skills, which, research suggests can significantly increase a student’s chances of graduating from high school and college.”

In Canyons District, the Board of Education has invested in the hiring and training of psychologists, social workers and counselors for every school. These professionals are there as a resource for families and to help maintain environments where children feel connected and safe to raise their hands, try hard things, and reach out to new friends. Also, starting this fall, and over the next few years, Canyons schools will be rolling out a new, social-emotional learning curriculum to help teachers and staff speak the same language when talking about things like problem-solving, focusing in class, and working as teams.

“Again, much of this is just part of everyday learning. For example, while reading a book in kindergarten about a boy who loses his dog, the teacher might prompt students to talk about how the boy feels or discuss steps he might take to begin searching for his pet. A failed science experiment can serve as an important lesson about it’s OK when things don’t work as planned, it’s part of the learning process. It’s kind of a new way of thinking about book smarts.”

Parents can support, Weller says, by modeling a positive attitude about education and showing interest in their child’s classes, teachers and friends.
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Truth and Taxation Meeting Information


Business Administrator Leon Wilcox presented information to the Board of Education about the Aug. 6 Truth and Taxation meeting. Wilcox outlined the planned agenda for the hearing, which will include a presentation about the proposed adjustment and patron comments. Funds from a 13 percent increase would allow the District to put into place a new salary schedule for Canyons educators. The teacher-compensation plan, as negotiated with the Canyons Education Association, calls for a $7,665-per-year salary increase for every teacher. It also would raise the beginning-teacher’s salary to $50,000. This is the first time in Canyons District history that the District is proposing to increase the certified tax rate through the required Truth and Taxation process. The hearing will be in Board chambers at Canyons Administration Building-East, 9361 S. 300 East. 

Apex Awards

Director of Communications Jeff Haney presented information about the upcoming 10th annual Apex Awards, the highest awards given by the Board of Education and Administration. The by-invitation-only event will be Sept. 10 at Corner Canyon High. Nominations for Apex Awards are being taken until Aug. 2. 

Patron Comments

Patron Steve Van Maren asked the Board to reconsider the agenda for the night of the Truth and Taxation hearing. 

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including approval of the minutes of the Board of Education from June 18, 2019; minutes from the June 25, 2019 meeting of the Board; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; requests for overnight travel; June financial reports; a revised organizational chart; and a revised Board meeting schedule for 2019-2020.

Board and Staff Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe thanked the Board of Education for the constructive criticism given in his recent performance review. He also remarked that the recent roundtable discussion was productive and yielded a robust list of possible action item for the school year. He also mentioned Brighton High’s 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday, July 20. 

Wilcox said he appreciated the feedback he received during his performance evaluation.  He also updated the Board on plans to start using biodegradable trays at all 29 elementary schools in the coming school year. The schools also are going to use silverware instead of disposable utensils. 

Board of Education Member Reports

Mrs. Clareen Arnold thanked the staff for planning the 10th birthday party for the District.  She also thanked those who are working throughout the summer to prepare schools and other facilities for the upcoming school year. 

Mr.  Steve Wrigley reported on participating in the Sandy City Fourth of July parade and the Jordan High summer academy graduation. He also said many teachers have approached him about the salary increase, saying they appreciate the consideration of providing a wage that’s comparable to other professions. 

Mrs. Amber Shill expressed appreciation to Wilcox and the Nutrition Services team for finding a solution to environmental concerns regarding the disposable lunch trays.

Mr. Mont Millerberg said the 10th birthday party for Canyons District “was killer.”

President Nancy Tingey noted the investment of parents, students, employees and community partners in the success of the District over the past 10 years.  She thanked the public for participating in the operations of the District. 
For now, summer is in full swing, with barbeques, popsicles, and sunny afternoons by the pool. Before we know it, however, Canyons District schools will hum with a back-to-school buzz — and yellow school buses will be a familiar sight in neighborhoods.

Parents are encouraged to be prepared for the Monday, Aug. 19 first day of school for first- through 12th-grade students and the Wednesday, Aug. 22 start-day for kindergarten and preschool students by taking a minute to review 2019-2020 transportation plans for students who attend Canyons schools in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the towns of Alta and Brighton.  

Updated information about pick-up and drop-off locations can be easily accessed on the Canyons District website. Click here for the e-tool the public can use to find out more about eligibility and the established stops for Canyons buses. 

In addition, parents are urged to note a Utah law governing transportation funding that may affect some Canyons District middle school students. 

Canyons receives funding for busing provided to students enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade who live at least 1 ½ miles from school and students enrolled in grades seven through 12 who live at least 2 miles from school.

This means that some middle school students who qualified for busing last year may not qualify again this year because they have advanced to the seventh-grade and must live more than 2 miles away from the school to receive the services.

Canyons has created a “space-available” permit program to help many students who no longer qualify for busing services. Non-qualifying students may submit a request for transportation services so they can ride with their qualifying siblings or neighbors — if there is space on the bus.  The space-available permits are granted on a first-come, first-served, space-available basis. 

The permit-request forms will be made available to the public at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 5.  The forms can be accessed at all Canyons District schools and must be submitted at the school where your child attends.  

During the first few weeks of the school year, transportation services will not be provided to secondary students who live within a 2-mile radius of their schools, even if they have submitted a space-available permit request.  The CSD administration realizes this may be an inconvenience for some families, but the CSD Transportation Department needs the time to verify the numbers of students who, according to state law, are guaranteed a spot on the bus. 

Families of students who are granted a space-available permit will be notified by Sept. 16. 

Questions?  Please call Canyons District at 801-826-5000 or send an e-mail message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., A representative will be prepared to help you with your questions.
As one of the first employees of Canyons School District, Susan Edwards has had a front-row seat for many of the District’s defining moments.

Even before the vote on Nov. 6, 2007, Edwards was deeply involved in community discussions that led to the creation of the first school district in Utah in 100 years. From building a vital bridge of connections throughout the community to choosing the District’s first computers, Edwards has played a key role in Canyons’ history — and, after a decade of devoting day and night to its success — Canyons has played a key role in hers.

“It feels like Canyons’ history is part of my family’s history,” Edwards said recently as she reflected on the District’s upcoming anniversary. “My family sees what you can accomplish, they see the relationships and the strength it takes just to battle through. They’ve learned a lot about community service, and how important education is to me.”

Click here to see Edwards talk with ABC4 anchor Brian Carlson about Canyons District's first 10 years.

Since community was essential to Canyons’ creation, community is at the heart of Canyons’ 10-year anniversary celebration on July 1. Nearly 700 people attended a free community party from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sandy Amphitheater splash pad, 1245 E. 9400 South.  At the event, the District served more than 600 hot dogs, bags of chips, and bottles of water. Attendees also sang “Happy Birthday” and cheered as the Board of Education cut birthday cakes decorated with the District’s logo.

Partygoers included students and their parents, current and former employees and dignitaries, including leaders of Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale and Sandy cities. Families stayed cool with water from the splash pad while picnicking on the lush grass of the park.  A live DJ turned up the volume to popular tunes. 

Canyons would not exist without the support of the community and family members throughout the District. For Edwards, the support of her family was essential in undertaking her role to help Canyons thrive. As one of the first CSD employees, Edwards wore many hats to help Canyons get off of the ground. She helped forge relationships between city leaders and district leaders, she acted as a business manager, IT director and human resources aide until those positions were filled by the experts in their fields.   

When Canyons’ first computers were to be delivered to the District, it was Edwards who waited at the building every day over Christmas break, only to discover they were marooned at the airport, because they believed all school districts would be closed, unaware Canyons was currently in an office building. Whatever the task, Edwards, now the District’s Public Engagement Coordinator, is ready to step in and help make it happen. 

“In many regards, Susan is the go-to person in Canyons District,” said Canyons School District President Nancy Tingey. “Her dedication to the District is unparalleled. Through her connectedness to the community, she is both an ambassador for the District, as well as a valuable link to bring community matters to the attention of the District.” 

Over the course of a decade, for every meeting and service opportunity, Edwards was there, but she wasn’t alone. Her four children were all in school at the time, and as they supported their mother, attending school events and more, they experienced their own firsts in Canyons history. Her son was a graduate in Canyons’ first commencement ceremony in 2010, he also was a flag bearer at Canyons’ first opening ceremony. A daughter was part of the first class of seniors to graduate from Corner Canyon, Canyons’ first brand-new high school. Another daughter was part of the first class to graduate after spending all four years at Corner Canyon. They all watched as the first middle school was built in Draper, and learned about their mother’s grit as they saw her dedicate time and energy to the District even after they all entered college.

Before Canyons was created, Edwards was involved in her children’s school community as a member of the school community council and PTA president. After Canyons’ creation, Edwards continues to devote her time and energy to supporting the District and its students, even if her own kids have moved on. 

 “I still want Canyons to be the best it can be,” Edwards said. “We’ve got 34,000 other kids. Our staff, our teachers, our children, our communities, they all rely on Canyons doing a good job. It’s not really a job we get to fail at. If we do, we’re failing a classroom of kids, and their whole education is impacted. We don’t get to fail because we are producing the people who will run our world for the next many years.”

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  • From the first sunrise on the day Canyons District was born to now, CSD schools have welcomed 28,031 bright-faced kindergartners and proudly awarded 22,426 high school diplomas.

    Canyons’ teachers have imparted 18.3 million hours of instruction, cafeterias have dished up 28 million nourishing lunches, and CSD bus drivers have logged 15.7 million miles transporting students to and from school. That’s the equivalent of 630 journeys around the Earth or 66 trips to the moon, and behind the wheel for each of those miles were drivers trained to shoulder the responsibility of safely transporting students to learning environments where they're encouraged to reach for the stars. 

    Canyons, the first school district to be created in Utah in 100 years, is a community of many talents—and behind every student achievement and success story are parents, faculty, staff, and community partners selflessly sharing those talents to enrich the lives of children. July 1, 2019 marks a decade of distinction for the District, and the Canyons community is celebrating with free hot dogs and cake from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sandy Amphitheater splash park, 1245 E. 9400 South. This is a free public event for the whole family.

    “This District simply wouldn’t exist without the community’s support,” says Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe. “This is but a small token of thanks for all the people who make Canyons such a wonderful place to live, learn and work.”

    A decade may not seem long, considering some of the schools within Canyons’ boundaries have celebrated 50th and 60th anniversaries this year. But a lot can happen in 10 years.

    Canyons came into being through a vote by residents in five Salt Lake County municipalities who sought a school a district that was responsive to the community, emphasized career-and college-readiness, embraced innovation, and prioritized customer service. The year the District opened, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first African-American President. The country was just emerging from the Great Recession, and a technological transformation was afoot, driven largely by the Internet and other advances in communication technologies.

    Since its first day of operations, Canyons’ employees and the Board of Education have kept the revolutionary vision of those voters at the heart of everything the District does. With a laser-like focus on helping each student become career-and college-ready, the District has been breaking barriers, raising the bar, and setting new standards for public education. It’s through the caliber of Canyons' teachers, the discipline of students and the uncommon levels of community support that Canyons schools enjoy that the entire community rises to new heights in education.

    A Decade of Distinction • By the Numbers
    • Canyons’ five traditional high schools have staged more than 50 fall musicals, cheered 43 team state sports championships, and prepared graduates for roughly $300 million in college scholarship offers.
    • Seven new schools and special programs have come into being.
    • The Board of Education has approved some kind of employee compensation increase every year of the District’s existence, including a proposal this year to bring the starting teacher pay to $50,000.
    • The Canyons Education Foundation has fueled teachers’ ideas for improving instruction through the award of $708,000 in Innovation Grants.
    • Canyons' students have outpaced their peers on year-end tests, in some cases by as many as 13 percentage points.
    • Canyons’ graduation rate has reached an all-time high of 89 percent.
    • With two, tax-neutral voter-approved bonds, we have built, rebuilt or renovated 13 schools with plans for major upgrades to eight more—all while maintaining the Canyons’ AAA bond rating.
    • Canyons has welcomed the contributions of 126,000 volunteers in our classrooms.
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