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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.”
Seventy-eight percent of Canyons District’s elementary and middle schools received an A or B this year under Utah’s school grading system — an increase of five percentage points over 2016.

Conversely, the number of CSD’s elementary and middle schools to earn C’s and D’s fell by six percentage points, according to data released Monday, Sept. 25 by the Utah State Board of Education.

The academic gains mostly reflect improved SAGE test scores, explained Canyons District’s Research and Assessment Director Hal Sanderson, Ph.D. “Our teachers and school administrators should be extremely proud. It takes years of training, effective teacher collaboration, and an unwavering commitment to research-backed instructional strategies to boost student achievement and move the needle on school grades.”

Among the CSD schools to show the most growth are two highly-impacted Title I schools. Sandy Elementary jumped from a C to a B, and East Midvale rose from a D to a B.

“Jumping two letter grades is extremely rare. The student growth at East Midvale and gains in science achievement are really commendable,” Sanderson says.

East Midvale Principal Justin Pitcher credits the discipline and stamina of his teachers. Three years ago, East Midvale experienced a massive turnover in staff and had to hire 23 new educators. “Those faculty, in collaboration with their more tenured colleagues, have very worked hard to create an environment at this school where all students feel safe and inspired to learn. Their goal isn’t to improve test scores. It’s to ensure that students master foundational concepts before moving on to the next subject, and they’ve committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal.”

Utah’s school grading system was established by the Legislature, and the first grades to be published were for the 2012-13 school year. Each school’s grade, which can be found online, is primarily based on year-end test scores. Schools are awarded points for students who meet grade-level benchmarks and for students who show substantial growth. Additionally factoring into high school grades are graduation rates and ACT scores.

The State Board of Education also released PACE data. PACE was implemented in 2014 as part of Gov. Gary Herbert’s plan to ensure Utah is on pace to have 66 percent of all working-age Utahns hold a post-secondary degree or certification by the year 2020.

There is considerable overlap between the PACE accountability report and School Grading. Key differences largely center on the points students and schools can earn for growth in academic achievement and college-readiness measures.

Eighty-three percent of the elementary schools and 75 percent of middle schools in CSD are above the state average in achievement as calculated by PACE. In terms of growth, 66 percent of elementary schools and 63 percent of middle schools in CSD showed higher growth than schools averaged statewide.

To view individual school PACE or School Grading reports, please visit the State Office of Education’s Data Gateway



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Friday, 22 September 2017 00:43

Board Meeting Summary, Sept. 19, 2017

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

Public Hearing for Bond Proposal


The Board of Education held a public hearing on the $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond proposal. If the majority of residents vote Nov. 7 in favor of the proposal, the District will rebuild Hillcrest and Brighton high schools; significantly renovate Alta High; rebuild Union Middle; rebuild Peruvian Park Elementary, Midvalley Elementary and a White City-area elementary school; replace the portables at Corner Canyon High; build a new west Draper Elementary; build new front offices at six elementary schools; and complete natural-lighting projects at 18 elementary schools.

The following residents addressed the Board during the public hearing: 
  • Corner Canyon High PTSA President Kathryn Myers said she supported the proposal.
  • Patron Steve Van Maren said he does not disagree with addressing the building needs in the District. However, he said he disagrees with the way the finance plan is structured.
  • Darrell Smith, former mayor of Draper, said the bond proposal address both facilty needs and growth. The impact to taxpayers is always a concern, he said, but voiced support for the proposal.  
  • Patron Betty Shaw said that although she doesn’t have any children in schools, she supports the bond so the community’s children are provided the best-possible education. She urged the Board to act now before interest rates and construction costs go up.   
  • Parent Angie Overbaugh said she’s an advocate of the bond proposal. She said the Board was fiscally responsible with the $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010. She said the 2017 bond proposal will provide secure and modern schools. New and improved schools also will increase property values, she said
  • Parent Lisanne Pepper told the Board she supports the bond proposal and urged the communities that benefited from the 2010 bond to help provide those same kinds of facilities to other parts of the District. 
  • Region 17 PTA Director Tonya Rhodes said the PTA has taken a position to support the bond.  She read the statement of support. 
  • Teacher and CSD resident Jerry Christensen said he supports the bond proposal.

Progress Report on Board’s Vision and Mission

Research and Assessments Director Dr. Hal Sanderson updated the Board of Education on the Board’s vision and mission. In the Board’s guiding tenet of Community Engagement, in 2016-2017, the District counted 12,672 volunteers who logged 257,380 hours of service. This tally increased from 11,675 volunteers in the previous school year. In addition, 100 percent of CSD principals, 71 percent of School Community Council chairs, and 53 percent of SCC members attended the District-provided professional development for SCCs. In the tenet of Customer Service, 3.7 million people visited the Canyons website and spent an average of 3.2 minutes on each web page visited. Sanderson also reported that, in last year’s Parent Satisfaction Survey, 89 percent of CSD parents responded favorably to the question “I am pleased with how much my child in learning,” and 86 percent agreed with the statement “I am pleased with how this school supports my child’s emotional well-being.” Some 6,816 parents completed the survey.  As for students, of the 858 graduating seniors who responded to the District’s survey, 78 percent said they were satisfied with the quality of education they received in CSD. In last year’s Teacher Satisfaction Survey, of the 887 teachers who responded to the poll, 71 percent said they were satisfied with their jobs in CSD. This is up from 63 percent in 2015-2016. In the tenet of Innovation, 26 percent of teachers have earned level-one certification in the instructional use of technology, which is about halfway to the point the Board would like the District to be in 2019. Last year, 74 percent participated in opt-in district-level professional development, and 25 percent of those were in PD classes for one to 10 hours. Eight percent participated in some 50 hours of PD to enhance their pedagogy. In 2016-2017, at least 92 unique PD opportunities were offered to CSD’s licensed employees. The Board also reviewed and discussed innovative programs that have been launched to positively impact student achievement. Those programs include the Supplemental Hours of Instruction for Kindergarten Students; the Husky Strong Academy; Alta High’s Step2theU; Elementary School Brain Boosters; Dual Language Immersion Programs; Canyons Virtual High School and Diamond Ridge High; and the District’s United Way partnership. In the tenet of Fiscal Accountability, the Board was updated on the District’s AAA bond rating, the 100 percent compliance on the Annual Audit; and the national awards received every year since 2010 for the District’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and budget book. 

Calendar Committee Appointments

Board members Amber Shill and Mont Millerberg have agreed to serve on the District’s Calendar Committee, which crafts and proposes a calendar for every academic year. By policy, the Calendar Committee is made up of teachers, administrators, Education Support Professionals, members of the PTA/PTSA, and School Community Councils or at-large representatives.

Pledge of Allegiance

The colors were posted and Pledge of Allegiance led by Cub Pack 3230, made up of students who attend Quail Hollow Elementary. Quail Hollow Elementary Principal Shad DeMill delivered the reverence.

Recognitions

The Board of Education recognized Midvale Middle students Abigail Slama-Catron and Eric Snaufer, along with two students from the Beehive Science and Technology Academy, Allison Drennan and Timothy Holt. The students won the regional President’s Environmental Youth Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Slama-Catron and Snaufer also advanced in Broadcom Master’s, the nation’s most prestigious science, technology, engineering and math science fair competition. The Board also recognized teachers, students, principals, Achievement Coaches, and administrators for CSD’s above-the-state-average scores on the Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) tests. Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward, Director of Instructional Supports, was applauded for leading the District’s research-based instructional practices since the District’s founding in 2009. 

Report from the Canyons Education Foundation

Canyons Education Foundation Development Officer Laura Barlow reported on the progress of the fundraising arm of the District. Barlow reported that, last year, the annual spring gala raised $50,500, an increase of some $5,000 from the previous year. The golf tournament, held on Monday, raised some $62,000, an increase of more than $7,000 over the previous year.  Funds raised at the event goes directly to students and teachers in the District. She also reported on the new members of the Foundation Board; the creation of partnerships with local businesses to provide growth opportunities for students; and donation drives.  In August, the Foundation partnered with Z104FM to collect school supplies and raise money to help low-income students go back to school with full backpacks. She also updated the Board on the new members of the Foundation, including the CEO of Lone Peak Hospital and the presidents of the Sandy and Draper chambers of commerce. 

Superintendent and Business Administrator Reports

Canyons Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe congratulated the winners of the 2017 Apex Awards. He also thanked the Canyons Education Foundation staff for planning and executing a successful golf tournament. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox said that salary increases for teachers were implemented on the Friday, Sept. 15 paychecks. Wilcox also reported on the bond proposal presentation given to the Draper City Council. He also publicly bid his wife a happy anniversary. 

Board Reports

Mr. Chad Iverson and Mrs. Clareen Arnold deferred their comments.

Mrs. Nancy Tingey mentioned her attendance at the SCC and PTA luncheon with Superintendent Briscoe. She expressed gratitude to the parents who volunteer in school-leadership capacities. She also attended the Albion Middle “Fun Run” and Ridgecrest Elementary’s 50th birthday party.  She also thanked Amber Shill, Mont Millerberg and Steve Wrigley for attending a leadership retreat hosted by the Utah School Boards Association.

Mrs. Amber Shill expressed appreciation for the administration for their hard work in overseeing the District. She also attended the Brighton High School Community Council. 

Mr. Steve Wrigley reported on the bond-proposal presentation given to the White City Township Council. He also expressed appreciation for the winners of the 2017 Apex Awards. He also thanked the staff for organizing the event. He also reported on attending the USBA leadership conference. 

Mr. Mont Millerberg reported on the bond-proposal presentation given to the Midvale City Council. He said Mayor JoAnn Seghini offered to write a message to residents in support of the bond proposal. He also reported on meeting with a group that is actively planning for the future of Hillcrest High. He also reported on attending the USBA leadership conference and the CSD Foundation Golf Tournament. 

Board President Sherril H. Taylor thanked staff for planning the Apex Awards.  He also expressed appreciation for the service of Board members. He wished employee Carolyn Larsen a speedy recovery after suffering an injury while working with students. He thanked central-office staff, teachers and Education Support Professionals for keeping the district running smoothly.
Canyons District mourns the death of Cazzie Brown, the head football coach at Hillcrest High.  The school community and its supporters have been encouraged to wear green today in a show of solidary and support for Coach Brown’s loved ones. 

The school issued the following message to parents and students early this morning: 

The administration, faculty and staff of Hillcrest High want to express our appreciation for the support you have shown our school community and Coach Cazzie Brown who passed away late Sunday, Aug. 27 from complications of a viral infection. A native of Houston, Texas, and former football player for Idaho State University, Coach Brown came to Hillcrest in 2016 by way of Judge Memorial and Highland High where he served as defensive coordinator and defensive assistant, respectively. In a short amount of time, with his deep love for students and his motto ‘One Pack, One Goal,’ he brought new energy and positivity to Hillcrest and its football program. Beloved by his students, he was a caring, passionate educator, a respected colleague and a dear friend. Caz will forever be remembered as the Coach who brought pride back to Husky Land, and he will be greatly missed. Counselors will be on hand today and throughout the week to support anyone who is struggling to process difficult emotions.” 

A candlelight vigil will be held on the football field at 9 p.m. tonight.
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. 
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