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It’s officially fall in Canyons District — that special time of year when the leaves start to change, the sun sinks out of the sky earlier each day, and the unmistakable sight of campaign signs dot the valley.

As Tuesday, Sept 26 marks National Voter Registration Day, the advent of fall means something new for Canyons students who are 18 — the legal age to vote. This November will be the first time 364 Canyons students will have the opportunity to make a choice in the upcoming election. From mayoral candidates to a $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond proposal by Canyons District, those Canyons students will have their voices heard with their votes this year.

“I plan to register,” said Hillcrest High senior Boston Iacobazzi. “I think it’s just great to have a voice and know you can influence something with your right to vote rather than just experiencing it and not having any say in what’s going on.”

National Voter Registration Day is a national holiday that was first observed in 2012. It is always held on the fourth Tuesday of September. The aim of the holiday is to motivate Americans to register to vote before they miss the deadline and lose eligibility to vote in the election. Individuals can register online, at vote.utah.gov, or by mailing in a voter registration ballot available at city and county offices.

In Salt Lake County this year, the deadline for registering by mail is Oct. 10. Online registration is available until Oct. 31. Voters can request mail-in ballots until Nov. 2. The general election takes place on Nov. 7. 

One item on the ballot this year is a $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond proposed by Canyons District to rebuild and renovate its aging schools.

If voters approve the bond on Nov. 7, the District will rebuild Brighton and Hillcrest high schools; Union Middle; Midvalley and Peruvian Park elementary schools and a White City-area elementary school. The Canyons Board of Education also approved a plan to build a new elementary school in west Draper; renovate a significant part of Alta High, including the addition of a state-of-the-art auditorium and gymnasium; replace portables with classrooms at Corner Canyon High, remodel offices at six elementary schools; and install windows and skylights at 18 elementary schools. 

Canyons’ 18-year-old students have a special insight into the needs of their schools, says Corner Canyon senior Emily Boyce. Boyce says she is excited about making a difference with her vote.

“Unlike the adults that make the decisions, we actually go here and we have classes in portables,” Boyce said. “We actually know what is going on in this school and that could help future classes have a better place.”
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 23:46

Board Meeting Summary, Aug. 22, 2017

Board Meeting Summary, Aug. 22, 2017

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

Bond Proposal


The Canyons Board of Education voted to seek resident approval of a $283 million, tax-rate-neutral bond on the Nov. 7 ballot. The Board also established a list of projects that would be completed with funds from bond issuances. If the bond proposal gains passage, the District will: 
  • Rebuild Hillcrest and Brighton high schools 
  • Rebuild Union Middle School
  • Renovate parts of Alta High School, including the addition of a new auditorium and gymnasium
  • Rebuild Midvalley and Peruvian Park elementary schools 
  • Rebuild a White City-area elementary school
  • Build new classroom wings at Corner Canyon High School
  • Build a new West Draper Elementary School
  • Remodel offices at Brookwood, Granite, Oakdale, Park Lane, Silver Mesa, and Sunrise elementary schools
  • Install windows and skylights for natural lighting at Altara, Bell View, Brookwood, Canyon View, Crescent, East Midvale, East Sandy, Granite, Lone Peak, Oakdale, Oak Hollow, Park Lane, Quail Hollow, Ridgecrest, Silver Mesa, Sprucewood, Sunrise and Willow Springs elementary schools.
Before the vote, Business Administrator Leon Wilcox reviewed the resolution and the language of the proposed ballot. He also reviewed a proposed timeline for construction of the building priorities and the legal requirements to inform the public about the proposal. 

Eric Pfieffer, research director of pollster Dan Jones and Associates, presented survey information to the Board. Of 1,204 Canyons District registered voters polled, 87 percent said the District spent proceeds from the 2010 general-obligation bond somewhat or very well. After hearing the projects under consideration to be completed with a new bond, 75 percent of respondents said they were likely to vote for the bond proposal, according to the survey. The margin of error in the survey is 2.7 percent. 

After the vote, Board President Sherril H. Taylor issued the following statement: “What an exciting time in the history of Canyons District. As work begins in earnest on the 13th and final major construction project promised to our patrons in 2010, we aim to extend our ambitious plan to improve schools across Canyons. Just as we did seven years ago, we have developed a list of construction priorities that will have us turning dirt in every part of Canyons District. While we think our track-record speaks for itself, we reiterate our pledge to provide modern and safe schools for our community while also serving as conscientious stewards of taxpayer dollars. We have built so much momentum since our patrons graciously supported our previous facility-improvement plan, and we have great hopes the community will continue to work with us in in our efforts to build up Canyons together.”

CTESS Update

In response to feedback from teachers and principals, Canyons District’s teacher evaluation system continues to be updated, said Human Resources Administrator of Evaluation and Leadership Sandra Dahl-Houlihan. With these refinements in place, 83 percent of teachers polled in May 2017 strongly agree or agree that CTESS has improved. In 2017, 94 percent of CSD’s career educators, and 86 percent of provisional educators, were rated as effective or highly effective. That’s up from the 93 percent and 83 percent, respectively, who reached effective or highly effective status in 2016. The three-year-old evaluation system remains a work in progress and will continue to undergo improvements, said Dahl-Houlihan. The end goal is for it to be an effective support tool for teachers, and not punitive.

Behavioral Supports Update

Responsive Services Director BJ Weller updated the Board on organizational changes that will make it possible for schools and District personnel to provide needed behavioral supports and respond quickly and uniformly to crises. The changes aim to better align all support professionals toward the common goal of removing barriers to student achievement. They come as schools throughout Utah are determining how to comply with juvenile-justice system reforms that require schools to find new ways to discipline kids without sending them to court. 

Volunteer Report

New Region 17 PTA Director Tonya Rhodes and former President Betty Shaw gave the Board a ceremonial giant check made for the amount of $2,900,783. This figure represents the amount of money the District would have had to pay in salaries if it would have had to pay employees for the 120,940 hours of work done by PTA volunteers.

Board Recognitions

The following were recognized for their achievements:
  • CSD Nutrition Services Director Sebasthian Varas, who was named by the School Nutrition Association as the 2017 Director of the Year for Utah
  • Special Education Programs Administrator and former Eastmont Middle Principal Stacy Kurtzhals, who recently received the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Program
  • Corner Canyon High freshman Arial Harp, for winning first place in speech performance at the Chinese Bridge Language Contest at the University of Maryland.

Open Meetings Training

Canyons District’s General Counsel Dan Harper briefed the Board on its responsibilities regarding Open and Public Meetings. The annual training is required by law.

School Community Council Training

Every year, CSD conducts training for new and returning School Community Council members. The trainings give council members an understanding of their statutory responsibilities and help them make the most of their time on their school’s council, explained Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards.  The work of the SCCs also streamline the approval process for school improvement plans, said Alice Peck, a CSD School Performance Director. 

Pledge of Allegiance and Reverence

School Performance Director Joanne Ackermann led the Board and audience in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Communications Director Jeff Haney delivered the reverence.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the consent agenda, which included minutes from the Aug. 2, 2017 meeting of the Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel plans; July financial reports; and CSD’s participation in the SAFE Neighborhoods Program. 

Patron Comments

Former Region 17 PTA President Betty Shaw thanked volunteers in Canyons Schools. She also expressed appreciation for District’s support during her tenure as the leader of the Parent-Teacher Association. She said the District needs to “keep the ball rolling” with school-improvement efforts. She said she’s 100 percent in favor of a new bond proposal. 

CEA President Erika Bradshaw introduced herself to the Board of Education. Bradshaw says she looks forward to maintaining a positive relationship with the Board and Administration. She also says she’s in favor of the bond proposal.  She noted the vast facility differences between Mount Jordan Middle, where she previously taught, and Hillcrest High, where she teaches now.

Superintendent and Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said the Board’s support of the bond proposal shows the members are committed to educational excellence. He applauded Z104FM for the radio station’s efforts to collect donations of back-to-school supplies for students in need, and thanked the External Relations team for their work planning the school supply donation drive. CSD joined forces with the radio station as part of its annual back-to-school Gathering for Good fundraising lunch.

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox thanked the Board members for their diligence in weighing the bond proposal. He thanked Facilities Director Rick Conger and his team for all the hard work they’ve put in over the summer to ensure CSD’s schools are ready to welcome students at the beginning of the year. Finally, he commended Nutrition Services Director Sebasthian Varas for his award.

Board Member Reports

Steve Wrigley remarked on the huge crowd that attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Alta View Elementary, the 12th project completed with money from the $250 million voter-approved bond. People of all generations came to the event to see the new addition to their community. Wrigley also reported on attending CSD’s New-Teacher Orientation and sat in on a faculty meeting at Eastmont Middle, where enthusiasm is high for the coming school year.

Mrs. Amber Shill said she looks forward to the first day of school and CSD’s traditional Red Carpet Welcomes on the first day of school. She also expressed gratitude for Sixth-Grade –Orientation, which helps new middle schoolers become acclimated to the building.    

Mrs. Nancy Tingey reported on attending a Cottonwood Heights City-sponsored luncheon for the 2017 Teachers of the Year in Cottonwood Heights-area schools.  She remarked on her excitement for the 2017-2018 school year. She wished everyone “a wonderful first day.” Lastly, she thanked her fellow Board members for support of the 2017 bond.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold expressed gratitude for fellow Board member Chad Iverson’s diligence in weighing the bond proposal. She thanked Business Administrator Leon Wilcox and his team for their hard work in preparing information and data on the bond. 

Mr. Chad Iverson commended Board member Clareen Arnold for the unique perspective that she brings to the Board as a career educator. He expressed enthusiasm for the Utah State Board of Education’s willingness to reevaluate year-end testing for high school students. He added that he supports the will of the Board with regard to pursuing a bond.

Board President Sherril Taylor recognized the hard work and diligence of teachers who worked so hard to prepare for the start of school.  He noted the excitement that is felt in the schools for the first-day-of-school celebrations.  He also thanked the police officers for providing security to the community. 
Thursday, 03 August 2017 06:00

Board Meeting Summary, Aug. 1, 2017

Board Meeting Summary, Aug. 1, 2017

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

Potential Bond Proposal Discussion

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox updated the Board on the work being done to prepare for a possible general-obligation proposal for the November ballot.  Wilcox said that roughly half of the facility needs identified in the 2010 architectural review of all CSD buildings have been addressed. However, there still is a significant amount that remains to be done, even with ongoing work with capital-facility money and completion of 12 of the 13 projects promised to voters at the time of the approval of the $250 million bond in 2010. Wilcox said any debt could layered into the existing outstanding debt. He said the District also is studying ways to make the bond proposal tax-rate-neutral. Possible projects, which would be funded with bond and capital-facility money, include an Alta High remodel; new wings at Corner Canyon High; the construction of a new elementary in west Draper; rebuilds of a White City, Midvalley and Peruvian Park elementary schools, Union Middle, Hillcrest and Brighton high schools; six elementary school office upgrades; and 18 elementary school lighting upgrades. The deadline to vote for a resolution to place a bond-issuance question on the ballot is Aug. 22. The Board also addressed issues surrounding the projects that could be completed with bond money, including ensuring the public is aware of the planned construction.

Staffing Report

The new salary schedule approved last spring by our Board of Education has proven effective in Canyons District’s recruitment efforts, according to a report by the Human Resources Department. In April, Board voted for an innovative and progressive salary schedule that boosts the starting salary for a beginning teacher more than $5,000 a year while also providing salary hikes for mid-career and veteran educators. CSD’s Human Resources Director Steve Dimond reported that Canyons District staff recruited at 11 teacher fairs and other recruiting events, such as a “Flip the Interview” night CSD’s District Office. As a result, some 230 licensed employees have already been hired for the 2017-2018 school year. Sixty-two of those educators — 27 percent — are re-locating to CSD from out of state, with help from our re-location stipend program. In addition, 29 — 13 percent — are in an ARL/APT program. As of July 25, CSD had to hire just one school psychologist (which has been offered to a candidate), one speech-language pathologist, two elementary teachers, nine secondary school teachers, and four special-education teaching positions. Dimond also reviewed recent exit-interview results with the Board members. 

SAFE Neighborhoods Program  

The Board of Education was asked by the United Fire Authority to be a partner in the SAFE (Schools Aid Families in Emergencies) Neighborhoods Program. The aim of the initiative is to provide assistance to citizens at a local school in the event of a major disaster. The fire authority wants to put an emergency kit in every elementary school in Salt Lake Valley. The kit would aid in neighborhood communication, public information, situational awareness, and household reunification in the first 96 hours after a calamity. The fire authority previously met with the Incident Command Manual Update Committee, which is wrapping up a re-write of the District’s emergency-response plan. The Committee, at the request of Board member Mont Millerberg, asked the fire authority to give their presentation to the Board as whole.

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the consent agenda, which includes approval of the minutes from the Board of Education meeting on July 11; hire and termination reports; student overnight travel requests; and administrative appointments.

Academic Framework

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie and Instructional Supports Department Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward updated the Board on the District’s multi-tiered system of supports. Dr. Roderick-Landward explained that this framework serves as a roadmap for school-improvement plans.  Board President Sherill H. Taylor said the Board would review the information and may ask additional questions at a later meeting. 

Administrative Appointment

The Board approved the appointment of Quentin Linde as the new Assistant Principal at Corner Canyon High. A vacancy at the school was created when Scott Wihongi was appointed Principal of Murray High School in the Murray City School District.  Linde has been serving as a science teacher at Corner Canyon High. At the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie also introduced new administrators Kenna Sorensen, who is now an administrator in ISD and Dr. Angela Wilkinson; the new Principal at East Sandy.

Recognitions

The Board recognized the achievements of students, faculty and staff in Canyons District.  The Board honored Cora Mickelson, 4A state champion girls golfer; Redd Owen, Brighton High’s 5A first-singles tennis champion; Olivia Berhan, winner of a Sandy Young Entrepreneur Contest;  Energy Conservation Specialist Chris Eppler, who was named an Energy Pioneer by the Utah Gov. Gary Herbert; Jordan High’s Roberto Jimenez, whose leadership in the program Puertas Abiertas helped win ta Family Engagement Award at the National Family Engagement Summit; Rique Ochoa, the 2017 Utah History Teacher of the Year; and the Hillcrest Husky Strong Academy, for being the reason CSD was named a national District of Distinction by District Administrator Magazine.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Dr. Briscoe thanked the Board for the discussion surrounding the possible bond election. He also presented information to the Board about the area where the Utah State Prison now sits. He also informed the Board about the Administrator’s Training held today in the Professional Development Center of the Canyons Administration Building-East.  He said he’s excited for the start of the school year. 

Wilcox said the CSD is finalizing a contract for transportation in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Facilities Department is working hard to complete projects in schools, he said. He reminded the Board that Alta View’s site work will not be completed until November because crews had to tear down the old school after the new school was constructed. 

Board Reports

Mr. Chad Iverson thanked his fellow Board members for the collegiality on the Board.  He said he feels comfortable sharing his thoughts and feelings with other Board members.

Mrs. Nancy Tingey said she had the privilege of sitting on the Governor’s Excellence in Education Commission, which is developing a 10-year roadmap for advancing education. The group heard a presentation by Pam Perlich, a demographer at the University of Utah who stressed that while macro data are interesting, it’s neighborhoods that should occupy the focus of policy makers and elected officials. Neighborhood schools are the nexus of communities and Board members are privileged to be able to focus on individual neighborhood schools and the communities they serve. 

Mrs. Amber Shill thanked teachers and the administration at Jordan High who recently celebrated completion of a summer academy designed to give entering freshmen a jump on high school.

Mr. Steve Wrigley expressed appreciation for the administration and remarked on how much he looks forward to the start of school. He is proud of the District’s past year of accomplishments, and looks forward to another year.

Mr. Mont Millerberg commended schools for having such a welcoming attitude. He also spoke about how the architecture of the school reflects some of Utah’s most stunningly beautiful assets of Utah, including Delicate Arch. He also remarked on how many teachers were putting in extra hours, outside of their paid contracts, to prepare their classrooms and lesson plans. He said he’s excited for the opening of the new Midvale Middle on Aug. 8.

President Taylor thanked the Board for the rigorous debate and discussion about important items. He mentioned the Board has met a lot over the summer.  He said he feels the excitement in the air for the start of school.
Canyons School District is launching a new online tool that will make it easier for students to apply to transfer from their neighborhood school to another school within the District.

School choice transfers are approved through a process known as “permitting.” Until now, permit applications had to be filled out on paper and submitted directly to schools. But starting, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, families can complete their application via their personal computer from the comfort of their homes. Schools also have computers available to assist families with the application process.

Applying is easy: Simply click here and follow the prompts.

Please note: If your student is already attending a non-boundary school on a permit, that permit is still active and you do not need to fill out another one. Rules governing eligibility for permits remain the same. All that’s changed is the process for applying for permits. The online permits will be date- and time-stamped to ensure your place in the first-come, first-served permitting process.

To guide families through the process, the Department of Planning and Enrollment has created a tutorial found here. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the Department’s website. The Main Office at your local school also is a good resource for information.
Thursday, 29 June 2017 15:30

Board Meeting Summary, June 27, 2017

The Board of Education met on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 to review the year’s accomplishments and discuss items of interest that could be addressed in the coming school year and beyond. 

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe reviewed major accomplishments of the year, including the adoption of a mission and vision statement; an unprecedented increase in salaries for teachers; the completion of an ambitious new-school and school renovation program with money from the 2010 voter-approved bond; improvements to the elementary school schedule; and efforts to balance enrollments through boundary adjustments. 

Board member Clareen Arnold asked questions about CTESS, the educator evaluation tool. She also reviewed some of the responses to the survey about CTESS. Arnold also expressed frustration with SAGE assessments. She said she’s personally invested in a change in the assessments based on her experience as an educator. Board 1st Vice President Nancy Tingey suggested planning a future discussion, which would include a presentation on CSD’s SAGE results by Canyons Research and Assessment Director Dr. Hal Sanderson.  Tingey also suggested obtaining input from teachers at all levels. 

Tingey presented information and led a discussion about the District’s vision, mission, values, tenets, and indicators. She also asked Board members if they have suggestions for the evaluation tool used by the Board to review the performance of the Superintendent and Business Administrator. Board members asked to send their written input to Board leadership by July 11.

President Taylor asked the administration for an employee-retention report. 

Board 2nd Vice President Amber Shill presented an idea to insert STEM- and STEAM-related “makerspaces” into Brain Boosters time in the elementary-school schedule. The Board also asked for an update on the elementary-school schedule, including teacher collaboration and Brain Boosters. 

Dr. Briscoe presented information about gifted and talented programs in the District, including pathways to Advanced Placement classes. Tingey asked the Administration to ensure that communications are sent to parents about the optional exam that opens the door for students to participate in accelerated programs at the middle school level. The Board also discussed some of the pros and cons of having pull-out or magnet programs for gifted and talented or accelerated students. The Board also discussed ensuring access to AP and other accelerated-learning offerings at high schools.

Board member Steve Wrigley asked for additional information about the District’s dual-language immersion programs. He also discussed some of the challenges in providing DLI classes, especially at the secondary level. Wrigley also asked for an update on the Standards-Based Grading.  The Board also had a discussion about Standards-Based Grading. 

Tingey presented information about service learning. She and other Board members also discussed ways to make the schools welcoming environments.

Shill also presented ideas about creating a Board handbook.

Board member Wrigley discussed how the District is supporting the well-being of students.

The Board also addressed the issues surrounding a bond election. Board members discussed the possibility of doing a patron survey, creating a communication plan, and a financial-impact study. President Taylor also urged a judicious and systematic approach to creating a list of projects.

The meeting concluded with reports from Board members: 
  • Tingey expressed gratitude to the Board for their hard work, dedication, and service to the community. She said constituents and patrons feel like the District is responsive. 
  • Shill appreciated the status reports provided to the Board before the roundtable discussion. 
  • Wrigley said he appreciates the tone and topics of the Board retreats.  He feels like the Board is in the “driver’s seat.” He also discussed information about the profile of a career- and college-ready graduate.  
  • Board member Mont Milleberg said it feels very different to be a part of Canyons than it was during his first term on the Board. He said patrons are complimentary of the District’s decisions. 
  • President Taylor thanked Millerberg for bringing an analytic mind to the Board issues; Wrigley for his dedication to the well-being of students; Shill for her sharp intuition; and Tingey for her study and mastery of complex education issues. Taylor also expressed appreciation for Arnold’s commitment to students, and Board member Chad Iverson’s attention to detail.  Taylor expressed appreciation for District staff, and said he was grateful to be a part of the Canyons District family.
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