A shutterbug at Jordan High is helping Canyons District send wishes of a picture-perfect yuletide.

A photograph taken by 17-year-old Shellby Carvalho shines bright on the cover of the District’s 10th annual holiday card, which is sent to local legislators, Utah’s members of Congress, and Canyons’ major supporters. 

The star of Carvalho’s photo is her snow-white dog, Cali, a 2-year-old Great Pyrenees and Labrador mix she adopted from the Humane Society of Utah. 

“Because my dog is white, I thought that was a symbol of simplicity and purity, which is what the holiday season is all about,” says Carvalho, who takes Advanced Placement art classes and is the school’s Sterling Scholar candidate in the visual arts category.

“I’m so happy that I was able to make it happen,” she said about the photo shoot, which required stringing up colorful lights well before the holiday season and getting the dog to sit still long enough to snap the shot. She also edited the images and used a photo-enhancement program to complete the design.

Carvalho plans to major in environmental studies at Westminster College next fall.   

This is the fifth year Canyons District has asked students to create artwork for the official holiday card.  Students from Corner Canyon, Brighton, Alta and Jordan Valley School have provided artwork in previous years.
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Indicators of Student Success

Indicators of student success — ACT scores, AP participation rates, and graduation numbers — are on the upswing in Canyons District, according to Research and Assessment Director Dr. Hal Sanderson. Canyons District 12th graders outscored their peers across the state on the ACT, the entrance exam most commonly used by U.S. colleges and universities, Sanderson told the Board of Education. Students also gained in all parts of the test, which gauges student proficiency in English, mathematics, reading, and science. The average composite score of a Canyons student is 21.6. The highest composite score that a student can earn is 36. Of the 2,415 students who took the test, the average English score was 21.1. In mathematics, students hit 20.7; in reading and science, the average scores were 22.2 and 20.5, respectively.  Sanderson also presented information about the percentage of kids who take — and pass — Advanced Placement classes. The participation rate of Canyons students is on the rise, he said, and at 71 percent, Canyons District is above the state AP pass-rate of 69 percent. In the last academic year, 4,347 AP tests were taken by Canyons students, and 35 percent of eligible students took at least one AP test.  Canyons District’s graduation rate also is on the uptick, from 85 percent in 2016 to 86 percent in 2017 to 89 percent in 2018. 

Financial Report

Canyons District is about $6 million under-budget for the 2018 Fiscal Year, says Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, who presented the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.  The District was authorized to spend $264 million, but spent about $258 million while maintaining a fund-balance or savings of $75 million. That savings rate has been vital in preserving the District’s AAA bond rating, Wilcox says. Also of note: The District’s taxable value has markedly grown over the years, rising from a low of $15.6 billion in 2012 to $22 billion in 2017. CSD is expecting another 10 percent increase in its taxable value in the tax year 2018. The District is required to submit the report five months after the end of the fiscal year. 

Recognition of President Sherril Taylor's Service

The Board of Education honored President Sherril H. Taylor for his decade of service to Canyons District. Taylor, whose final term on the Board ends in December, was presented with a crystal award, memento photographs, and the Board member identifier plaque that has been displayed outside of Board chamber at the Canyons Administration Building-East. A video slideshow featuring photos of Taylor serving in his role as an inaugural Board member, as well as Vice President and President, also was shown. Board 1st Vice President Nancy Tingey also read the following resolution into the official record of the meeting: 

“In recognition of extraordinary service and leadership, the Canyons Board of Education presents this Resolution in honor of Sherril H. Taylor:

Whereas, Mr. Taylor served as a member of the inaugural Board of Education of Canyons School District, the first new School District to be created in Utah in nearly a century, and which provides educational services to approximately 34,000 students who hail from Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta;

Whereas, among Mr. Taylor’s noteworthy achievements, as a member of the first-ever Board, he played a major role in the historic creation of the District, division of $1.5 billion in assets of the former Jordan School District, and the negotiation of the arbitration agreement that established Canyons’ financial foundation;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor was instrumental in national searches for top-tier candidates to serve in the vital leadership posts of Superintendent and Business Administrator of the Canyons School District;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor supported innovations designed to inspire high levels of student achievement, including the unanimous Canyons Board of Education vote to implement the state’s first-ever differentiated high school diplomas and the reconfiguration of grades in every school;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor is the longest-serving member of the Canyons Board of Education, and has served in a Board leadership position, either as President or Vice President, during his tenure on the Board.

Whereas, Mr. Taylor endorsed the successful 2010 and 2017 bond proposals to build and renovate schools in every corner of Canyons District. Under his leadership, Canyons District has either completed major renovations or rebuilt 13 schools, including the construction of Corner Canyon High and Draper Park Middle, and is in the midst of renovating, augmenting, or rebuilding four of the five CSD traditional high schools;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor has developed and strengthened relationships with Canyons District’s municipal partners, policymakers, and legislative leaders, which has led to an unprecedented partnership to provide services to all shared constituencies for the betterment of schools, cities, families and children;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor served as President of the Board of Education when Canyons District put into place a progressive salary schedule that aids in attracting the country’s best new educators while also rewarding veteran teachers who have provided valuable service to the District;

Whereas, during Mr. Taylor’s tenure of the Board, Canyons has emerged as an innovative and responsive District that is a leader in the state in academics, arts education and athletics, as evidenced by rising test scores, awards for stellar artwork and stage performances, and dozens of team and individual region and state championship trophies;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor’s contributions as an exacting, thoughtful, kind, dedicated, and generous leader are unparalleled and will be greatly missed by his fellow members of the Board of Education, Administration, faculty, staff, and volunteers;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Canyons Board of Education expresses its deepest appreciation for the outstanding contributions made by Mr. Sherril Taylor during his decade of distinguished public service in support of Canyons School District.”

In addition, Board members individually commented on Taylor’s service and leadership. Their remarks can be heard in their entirety on BoardDocs.

Digital Divide

According to a survey given to parents during this year’s online registration process, 10 percent of Canyons District students, including 430 high school students, do not have Internet access at home. Canyons District’s Information Technology Director Scot McCombs asked the Board to consider funding a proposal that would bridge this so-called digital divide. The proposal requests funding to provide a device and a filtered hotspot subscription for qualifying students. The estimated cost is $21,500 for 430 Chromebooks and $86,000 for 430 $20-per-month hotspot subscriptions. McCombs said the District is working with a cellular provider for discounted services. The Board will continue to review and discuss the proposal. 

Support for Midvale Elementary Restructure  

The Board of Education agreed to sign and deliver a letter that asks the Utah State Board of Education to allow Midvale Elementary, which did not meet the criteria to exit out of “turnaround status” based on the results of its year-end assessments, to continue to seek improvement under a restructuring plan that is showing promise. 

Policy Updates

The Board of Education reviewed a proposed policy that would govern the publication of yearbooks in Canyons District high schools. The Board also adopted a policy governing student use of automobiles and parking.

Pledge of Allegiance and Reverence

The colors were posted by Boy Scouts from East Midvale Elementary. The reverence was delivered by Matt Nelson, Principal of East Midvale Elementary. 


The Board of Education honored the following students, faculty and staff for their achievements:

  • Shellby Carvalho, Jordan High senior, artist of the District’s Official Holiday Card
  • The Corner Canyon High girls’ soccer team, 5A state championships
  • The Corner Canyon High Shakespeare team, Sweepstakes winners, Utah Shakespeare Competition at Southern Utah University
  • The Hillcrest High Shakespeare team, Sweepstakes winners, Utah Shakespeare Competition at Southern Utah University
  • The Corner Canyon High football team, 5A state champions
Patron Comments

Patron Kim Horiuchi expressed concern about a recent audit from the Utah State Auditor’s report regarding the information provided to the community about the 2017 bond proposal. 

Patron Wendy Davis also spoke about the audit from the Utah State Auditor’s Office. She said the Board should follow the audit’s recommendations 

Patron Betty Shaw said she had a message from former Board member Ellen Wallace, who served with President Taylor on both the Jordan and Canyons Board of Education.  The message thanked Taylor for his service. 

Hillcrest High parent Karen Conder spoke about a resolution she sponsored in support of students with disabilities that was approved at the National PTA Convention.

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes of the Nov. 13, 2018 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; approval of hire and termination reports; student overnight travel requests; the 2017-2018 Comprehensive Financial Report and Related Audit Report; an interlocal agreement with Cottonwood Heights City for a storm water system near Brighton High; an Easement Agreement for Retention Pond with Cottonwood Heights City, and a Board of Education letter to USBE in support of Midvale Elementary.


The Board of Education approved the Academic Calendar for 2019-2020 and gave tentative approval of the calendars for academic years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. 

Update on Responsive Services

Responsive Services Director BJ Weller presented progress information about the first year of his department’s operations. He reviewed data related the department’s efforts to respond to students who express suicide ideation, SafeUT tips, and crisis interventions, among other tasks.  Weller also said the department has improved the system used by schools to document office referrals, fights, tobacco and vaping violations, and drug or alcohol violations. The department is broadening the scope of mental-health supports an implanting a behavior screener for elementary schools, in addition to streamlining the collection of data related to student discipline. Also, Responsive Services is operating a youth academy for secondary students who need extra support both academically and behaviorally.

Superintendent and Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Briscoe thanked the Chamber Choir from Corner Canyon High for performing at a meeting attended by Utah school district superintendents. He also commented on the visit to the Governor’s Mansion by a Brookwood fourth-grade class to decorate the tree in the mansion’s library. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox reported on the meetings the District has had with the Utah State Auditor’s Office to discuss the recent review of publicly released information related to the successful 2017 bond proposal. He said the District worked with the state elections office and the Salt Lake District Attorney’s Office to address any issues of concern that were referred to the offices. He also clarified that the cost of Corner Canyon High’s construction was $71.5 million, with a Board-approved classroom addition that will cost $9.6 million, bringing the total to 81.1 million. He said all decisions regarding the construction or renovation of school are made in public meetings. Related documents can be found on the District’s website. He also stated that the expansion of CAB-East is being funded with proceeds from the sale of CSD land on 500 West, and reiterated that the Board has discussed in public the expenditures and contracts for any construction projects in Canyons District. He expressed appreciation to President Taylor for his service.

Board Members

Chad Iverson thanked Wilcox for the clarifications.  He said he would miss President Taylor. 

Clareen Arnold appreciated the feedback from the financial report and thanked staff for their work in increasing the high school graduation rate. 

Mrs. Nancy Tingey reported on attending Brookwood Elementary’s visit to the Governor’s Mansion to help Gov. and Mrs. Herbert trim the tree in the mansion’s library. She said the governor and first lady were warm, kind and patient with the students, and gave good advice about pursing an education. 

Mrs. Amber Shill expressed thanks to Wilcox for presenting clarifying information. She reported on attending Hillcrest’s production of “Hairspray” and the 5A football championship game in Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah. Because of her roles as a Trustee Board member of the Utah High School Activities Association, she was able to present the trophy to the Chargers. She expressed appreciation to the administration, faculty and staff of the District for their efforts to increase AP participation and pass rates, the increasing ACT scores and the upswing in the graduation rate. She said she will miss President Taylor and hopes he will enjoy his retirement from service on the CSD Board.   

Mr. Steve Wrigley reported on his committee assignments, as well as attending the District’s luncheon for newly elected officials. He also said he attended high school musicals.

Mr. Mont Millerberg thanked Wilcox and his staff for preparing the CAFR and ensuring the District remains on solid financial footing. He thanked Wilcox for presenting clarifying information during his report to the Board. Mr. Millerberg also reported on attending the first meeting of the committee that will be planning Canyons’ 10th-year anniversary celebrations.  

President Sherril H. Taylor thanked Board members for their collegiality and friendship. He said the District is in “overdrive” and said the District administration, faculty and staff are “superstars.” He thanked the teachers and Education Support Professionals for their hard work and dedication.
Calling all bilingual 11th and 12th grade students: If you’re fluent in two or more languages, you can apply to have an official Seal of Biliteracy added to your high school transcripts.  

The Seal of Biliteracy is placed on a high school graduate's transcript by the state of Utah to certify for employers and universities that the student has demonstrated proficiency in English and at least one world language. It is evidence of a student's readiness for a career, college and for engagement as a global citizen. 

High school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply for the seal starting Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. The application window closes on Jan. 24, 2019.  

To apply, students must obtain a form from their school’s Counseling Center. As part of the application process, students may be required to take a language proficiency exam sometime between March 5-15. Individual schools will determine the date, time and location of testing as well as a make-up testing date.

Additional guidelines and information about the application process can be found at your high school's counseling center.

They go the extra mile to tailor instruction. They document everything, not because it’s a federal requirement but because they want parents to be able to meaningfully celebrate their children’s progress. They have hearts of gold and a work ethic to match.

With the season of giving approaching, we’d like to take a moment to recognize those who give so much of themselves to ensure all children reach their potential. Over the past few months, CSD’s Special Education Department visited schools to surprise 10 educators and related service providers with Exceptional Service Awards.

This year’s awardees are exemplary of caliber of instruction delivered each day with patience and care in schools throughout the District.
Mary Weidman-Hoffman is a speech pathologist at Copperview Elementary. She was nominated for the growth she has made personally and professionally. She does a phenomenal job advocating for students, coordinating services, and connecting with outside providers as well as serving as a resource for school staff and faculty.
Heather Litster is an early childhood educator at Butler Elementary. She was nominated for her positive attitude and her ability to differentiate instruction for a wide range of students while still maintaining the fidelity of the curriculum. Her "I can do it” attitude makes her a valuable member of the early childhood team.
Teresa Ockey is a psychologist at Sandy Elementary and was nominated because of her impact on student learning at her school. She is actively involved in her school community and is invested in the success of all students.
Marian Gladbach is the department head at Jordan High. She builds positive relationships with students, and is known as a "fierce advocate” for their educational needs. Marian is actively involved in her school and with the other special education teachers on her team.
Jodi Brown is a resource teacher at Willow Canyon Elementary. She is an exceptional teacher who works hard, while deploying an unmatched sense of humor, to help her students make progress toward their goals.
Emily Christofferson is a speech pathologist at Draper Elementary. Though relatively new to Canyons, she has shown real leadership in overcoming challenging circumstances this past year while stepping up to help keep the school’s special education team on track with their paperwork and organized.
Angelee Gardiner is a speech pathologist at Silver Mesa Elementary. She promotes positivity with everyone, from the students she singles out each day for praise to the colleagues she uplifts with encouraging remarks. Angelee has knack for making the mystery of special education language accessible, which shows in her ability to keep parents actively engaged in their child’s education.
Dana Crosby is a resource teacher and member of the Student Support Team at Willow Springs Elementary. Always patient and kind, Dana has been known to spend hours calling parents or writing emails to update them on their student’s progress. She doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to overseeing the master special education schedule, or finding new ways to reach and inspire students to learn.  
Linda Draper is a special education teacher at Union Middle. A leader, an innovator, a tremendous worker, and an advocate for all students—particularly students with learning disabilities—Linda brings to Union a fresh perspective about instructional strategies that motivate learners and is continually seeking ways to differentiate her instruction.
Becky Morgan is a resource teacher at Bell ViewRelationships are important to Becky, which is why she takes time to get to know her students and their families as well as the school’s staff. A mentor to new teachers, she interacts with everyone in a kind, supportive way, including students whom she buoys with words of encouragement while holding them to high expectations.

special ed awards
Monday, 03 December 2018 03:44

How Sick is Too Sick for School?

It’s like clockwork. With the arrival of cold weather come winter colds and sniffles, posing the inevitable quandary for parents: How sick is too sick to send your child to school? Sometimes, it’s obvious. If your child is feverish and shaking or vomiting, he or she is probably in no condition to be learning. But what about a nagging cough or sore throat? Canyons District encourages school employees and students to stay home when:

  • They are not well enough or seem too run down to participate in class.
  • Their cold symptoms are accompanied by a fever of 101 F or higher.
  • They have a contagious illness, such as the flu or pinkeye/ conjunctivitis (crusty and red eyes with yellow or green discharge).
  • They have vomited two or more times in a 24-hour period, or have diarrhea.
  • They have been diagnosed with a bacterial infection, such as bronchitis or strep throat. In such cases, keep a child home for 24 hours after starting antibiotics. 
A word on lice: Once a child has been treated, he or she can return to school.

What Do Schools Do to Prevent the Spread of Disease?

Canyons District has about 5.8 million square feet of space to keep cleaned, which is accomplished each day with special attention paid to touchpoints, or highly-trafficked areas with which students come into direct contact, such as door knobs, computer keyboards, and drinking fountains. Deep-cleaning to combat specific illnesses entails using specialized chemicals and tools, such as electrostatic sprayers, which can cover an entire area with a bug-fighting coating of disinfectant. Parents can help by reminding children of the importance of good personal hygiene. The best way to stop the spread of disease is to thoroughly wash hands after using the restroom and before preparing or eating meals.
Monday, 26 November 2018 21:14

School Choice: Open Enrollment Starts Dec. 1

Under Utah law, students who wish to attend a school other than their neighborhood school—the one assigned to them by geographic boundaries—may apply for a transfer by submitting an Open Enrollment request.

In Canyons District, families are able to submit these forms online from the comfort of their home or office using our Online Permit Portal. For the 2019-2020 school year, the window for applying for the school-choice permits opens Saturday, Dec. 1 and closes on Friday, Feb. 15. 

School transfers are approved when space is available and on a first-come, first-served basis. Paper permits are no longer available.

Once a school administrator approves a transfer permit, the permit will renew automatically every year thereafter as long as the student remains at the same school and their permit is not revoked. Permits must be renewed when a student advances from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school.

To guide families through the process, the Department of Planning and Enrollment has created tutorials in English, Spanish, and French. 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.
Barry Johnson’s second-period science class has fallen silent. The lights are dimmed and the students are all sitting forward and upright in their chairs with their feet on the floor and eyes closed.

The only sound that can be heard is the soothing voice of a woman who is inviting the class to take a few moments —eight minutes, to be exact—to “just be right here” as the students “breathe in and breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.”

In today’s hyper-connected, always-on world, eight minutes is a long time for anyone to sit still with their thoughts, let alone an entire classroom of energetic preteens (try it sometime). But these digital natives have been practicing, taking up to 10 minutes every other day to disconnect and clear their heads as part of a mindfulness program being implemented at Albion Middle and a handful of other Canyons District schools.

Albion has only been doing morning mindfulness practices for about a month, but early results are promising. Already, teachers are observing fewer behavioral problems and signs of anxiety and stress in their students, which they say, helps learning happen more efficiently. “Teachers also are feeling the benefits as many practice mindfulness with their students,” says Albion counselor Cathy Nelson.mindfulness

What is mindfulness? There is no single definition, which is why it has been difficult for scientists to put reported benefits to the rigorous test of randomized clinical trials. But in the trials that have been done, mindfulness-type attention training has been shown to change the brain activity of depressed patients and reduce perceived feelings of stress. And there are plenty of observational studies suggesting mindfulness also helps with impulse control, empathy, attention and focus, resilience, productivity, and stress and pain management.

With rates of teen anxiety and depression on the rise, schools are looking for ways to support the social-emotional needs of students, and mindfulness is something that’s being explored by classrooms across the country, says Canyons District counseling coordinator Tori Gillett. “Students can’t learn when they’re overwhelmed and this gives them coping mechanisms for dealing with emotional stressors. It primes their brains for learning and trying hard things.” 

As it’s typically practiced, mindfulness is about being present in each moment, and creating a relaxed and aware state of mind while noticing thoughts and feelings without judgement.

Canyons District’s schools use a grant-funded program called Inner Explorer, a series of pre-recorded, age-appropriate guided meditation practices that teachers play in their classrooms following the school’s morning announcements. Some students more actively participate than others, but all are asked to be quiet and respectful.

Each day’s recording starts with taking stock of your breathing and noticing how your body feels. Often, there are even a few academic lessons thrown into the mix.

“Consider the importance of breathing,” the disembodied voice encourages Johnson’s class. “As you breathe in and out, consider how we can live more than 50 days without food, and about seven days without water. But we can only live about five minutes without breathing in and breathing out.”

The recording goes on to discuss belly breathing and the vagus nerve, which runs from our brain stem to our stomach and controls the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. “As you breathe in through your nose, breathe slowly to the count of five, and as you breathe out, breathe slowly to the count of 10 through a small opening in your mouth. Your exhale will be longer than your inhale, and this is what stimulates the vagus nerve and the relaxation response,” the voice prompts.

One or two of the students fidget and seem bored. But most sit quietly the entire eight minutes and report feeling “calm” and “relaxed” afterward. They describe the experience as rewarding and say they like starting the day this way.

Johnson has even used some of the strategies he’s learned at home with his own children. “It has really helped reduce anxiety and build focus,” he says, “and like anything else we do in school, the students get better at it with practice.” 

Tips for Surviving the Holiday Blues

Tidings of comfort and joy? Not for all of us. The holiday blues are a real phenomenon, though they don’t manifest as you might think. It’s a common myth, for example, that suicide rates spike during the holidays when, in fact, the wintersafeUTsmall months usually have the fewest daily suicides, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.  Nevertheless, changes in the weather, family schedules, obligations and expectations can make November, December and January a tough time for some of us, inspiring stress and feelings of loneliness, instead of warmth and cheer. The good news is that the holiday blues don’t generally last long, and there’s help for those whose sadness lingers. Just as Canyons District is concerned with the physical safety and health of students, our schools also work to fortify the social-emotional needs of children. Psychologists, social workers and counselors are assigned to every school to support students and families throughout the school year. Canyons District’s Department of Responsive Services also maintains an online library of tips and tools for parents and educators about a range of topics from suicide and drug and alcohol prevention to tips on talking to kids about traumatic events (see links below). Finally, if you know of someone who is in crisis and needs immediate help, you can report it through the anonymous and confidential mobile tipline SafeUT. The app, which provides all-day and all-night access to school administrators and licensed clinicians at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, is available to all Canyons school communities. Users can submit a tip with a picture and/or video and communicate online or call by phone. For the community's ease, here are links to places students and parents can download the app: Click here for Google Play and click here to find the app in iTunes. 

Bullying Prevention Tips
Suicide Prevention
Drug and Alcohol Prevention Resources
Preventing Gang Involvement
Crisis Prevention and Intervention

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

Utah College Application Week

Counseling Coordinator Tori Gillett updated the Board of Education on the events surrounding the 2018 Utah College Application Week, Nov. 5-9, five days dedicated to encouraging CSD high school seniors to submit at least one viable college application. Last week, Gillett said, 1,156 CSD students finished and submitted at least one application to a college or university. Nearly 300 additional students had already sent in an application. Some $5,000 of a $10,000 monetary pledge from the Canyons Education Foundation to help low-income students cover the costs of application fees had been used. In addition, two students from Jordan High’s Latinos in Action program thanked the Board for its support of UCAW. Luis Alvarez, LIA co-president, said he was making his immigrant parents’ dreams come true by setting his sights on attending to college. During UCAW, he applied to Salt Lake Community College and Utah State University. Uritze Juerta, also a daughter of immigrants, said she applied to SLCC, Southern Utah University, and Utah Valley University. Thanks to help from Jordan High’s staff, she was able to finish an application in 30 minutes. UCAW opens the door, she said, for students to start thinking actively about attending college. Gillett also presented information about how CSD middle schools are preparing students to start thinking about post-secondary education.

Turnaround School Update

Turnaround school Midvale Elementary has made progress academically and behaviorally, according to information presented to the Board of Education.The school has been focused on improvements since a beginning-of-the-school-year restructure to improve teaching and learning, increase social-emotional supports, and further engage the community. Midvale Mayor Robert Hales said the partnership with United Way is key to addressing some of the needs in the community that impact education. He also thanked the Board and the Administration for focusing on the academics and the facilities of the schools in the Hillcrest feeder. Midvale Elementary Principal Chip Watts said the attendance, life-trauma and social-emotional needs, which often present barriers to achievement, are addressed by the plan. Discipline referrals are down significantly, he said, and to date, tardies have been reduced by more than 9,000 compared to last year. Ninety-two parent contacts have been made regarding student attendance, and 31 students have received one-on-one chronic absenteeism interventions. Academically, the school, which has made 107 student-home visits, also is seeing increased levels of achievement. By May, he said, 60 percent of Midvale students will have made the expected level of growth or better in reading fluency as measured by the progress assessment called DIBELS.  Midvale students also are expected to meet or exceed growth benchmarks in mathematics, Watts said.  He said the school is excited about the trajectory that’s being seen in student-achievement data.  The Board of Education also was asked to present recommendations by December to the Utah State Board of Education about how Midvale Elementary is addressing its turnaround status.

Mathematics Program Adoption

The Board approved a proposal to adopt Illustrative Mathematics for seventh- and eighth-grade students and Mathematics Vision Project for ninth- through 12th-grade students. The cost to implement both programs is less than if the district opted to maintain the traditional hard-bound mathematics textbooks, and the texts are closely aligned to Utah’s Core State Standards. Canyons will implement the programs in a phased rollout.

Midvale-Schools Partnership

Student Advocacy and Access Director Karen Sterling updated the Board on progress with Canyons District’s Community Schools. The Community Schools model is one that strives to bring multiple resources to bear on the success of students in the Hillcrest High feeder system. The schools partner with non-profit organizations—including the United Way of Greater Salt Lake, Utah Food Bank, PLAYWorks, and Boys and Girls Clubs of South Valley—to link students and their families with community supports, welfare programs, and health and behavioral professionals. Participation numbers serve as important progress indicators:  260 youth are served in afterschool tutoring; more than 150 youth each year are being served in prekindergarten classrooms; 818 youth are involved, on average, in an afterschool summer program annually; more than 500 students take advantage of Care Team supports each year; and 210 youth are seen by a clinical therapist through school-based services. In addition, parent volunteerism has exploded at the Community Schools with 730 parents and caregivers contributing 1,353 hours of volunteer time one school year.

Academic Calendars

Office of Planning and Enrollment Director Dr. Floyd Stensrud presented proposed academic-year calendars for 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022. The Board will consider the proposed calendars in future meetings.

Land TRUST Plans

LAND Trust Plans for the 2017-2018 school year have been finalized, reported Community Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards. All CSD schools were at or below the 10 percent funds-carryover regulation, she said, and the schools also made expected or appropriate growth toward their academic goals as part of their school-improvement plans.

Policy Update

Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen presented proposed updates to the Board on policies governing student dress codes and student automobile use. The Board took the proposals under advisement. The Board also approved updates to policies about Tax Increment Financing Project Agreements, Work-Based Learning Programs, the development and dissemination of questionnaires and surveys, and the use of eye protection.


A Canyons District employee and the following students were recognized by the Board for their achievements:

  • Corner Canyon High’s boys cross country team, the 5A state champions
  • Corner Canyon High’s mountain biking team, first-place state winners
  • Hillcrest High theatre department, the sweepstakes winner at the Utah High School Shakespeare competition
  • Twenty-five student athletes who earned Academic All-State honors
  • CSD’s homeless student liaison Connie Crosby, recipient of the Utah School Counselors Human Rights Award
Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the minutes from the Oct. 16, 2018 meeting of the Board; hiring and termination reports; purchasing bids; requests for overnight student travel, and October financial reports.

Pledge of Allegiance, Reverence

Girl Scout Troop 2483 presented the American and state of Utah flags and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Butler Elementary Principal Jeff Nalwalker said his deployment as a soldier in Afghanistan gave him a newfound gratitude for the support schools receive in the United States. He said he met a teacher there who had not been paid in several months because of the war. Nalwalker also remarked on his Pac-Man-themed suit, a smaller version of which was worn by a Butler Elementary student for Halloween. He said such students inspire him to work hard every day as an instructional and community leader.  He said the faculty and staff at Butler Elementary, a French-English Dual Language Immersion school, are working hard to gain similar achievement levels as schools with similar student body demographics.   

Patron Comments

President Taylor introduced Amanda Oaks, who won election to District No. 6 on the Board of Education. She succeeds Taylor, who has held the seat since the District’s inception. 

Midvale Middle math department chair Deborah Delliskave spoke in favor of the proposed Illustrative Mathematics program for middle school students. Three other Midvale Middle teachers joined Delliskave at the podium in support of the program.

Patrick Oviatt, a seventh-grader at Midvale Middle who is in Delliskave’s class, spoke in favor of the Illustrative mathematics program. 

Sara Moeinvaziri also is taught by Delliskave at Midvale Middle. She said she never enjoyed mathematics until this year, and said it’s largely because of the mathematics program being taught in the class.

Leydie Reynog, a seventh-grade student at Midvale Middle, spoke in favor of Illustrative Mathematics.

Midvale Middle student Callie Schroeder spoke in favor of the proposed Illustrative Mathematics program.

Edward Loh, a Midvale Middle student, spoke in favor of the proposed Illustrative Mathematics program.

Butler Middle teacher Lisa Boyce, who piloted two units of Illustrative Mathematics, spoke in favor of the program.

Sarah Goodfellow spoke in favor of the District continuing the practice of allowing dual-enrollment in high schools.

Parent Justin Albrecht also spoke in favor of dual-enrollment in Canyons District schools.

Parent Scott Tasker, in response to a question from the Board, responded that he’d been told by an administrative assistant at CSD’s central office that dual-immersion students would no longer be able to be dual-enrolled at high schools. Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe clarified that no proposal is being considered by the Board of Education. 

Midvale Middle student Krithika Parsawar spoke in favor of Illustrative Mathematics.

Resident Paul Godot, who aids the mathematics teachers at Eastmont, spoke in favor of Illustrative Mathematics.

Ten-Year Anniversary Sub-Committee

The Board of Education created a committee f Board and staff members to spearhead the celebration of the District’s 10-year anniversary. Canyons District was founded on July 1, 2009.  

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said he appreciated the conversation surrounding the adoption of the new mathematics program. He congratulated the high schools for staging successful and entertaining fall musicals. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox reported on the upcoming closing on $75 million in bond issuances to pay for the construction of new schools. He also reminded employees about the $500 bonus they will receive on the second November paycheck.  The bonus is part of the negotiated agreements for the contract year.

Board Members Reports

Mr. Mont Millerberg reported on attending meetings at Midvale Middle and Midvale Elementary that gave him previews on the results of the elementary school’s turnaround efforts and the middle school’s use of the Illustrative Math program. He also reported on attending the Canyons Education Foundation’s delivery of Innovation Grants, the USBA regional meeting, and the Student Advisory Council’s meeting. 

Ms. Amber Shill reported on attending an assessment conference in Arizona with middle school principals and the Instructional Supports Department. She attended Brighton High’s production of “The Addams Family,” a speech by the Danish ambassador, a Reality Town activity, and the student advisory council. She thanked the community for the support during the election.

Mrs. Nancy Tingey said she attended Veterans Day activities, a subcontractors meeting for the rebuild of Brighton High, and Brighton and Jordan high fall musicals, “The Addams Family” and “Pirates of Penzance.”

Ms. Clareen Arnold plans to attend “Hairspray” at Hillcrest, and attended “Pirates of Penzance” at Jordan High. She commended schools for holding Veterans Day activities to honor soldiers for their service, and thanked staff for holding Utah College Application Week events.

Mr. Chad Iverson attended the state cross-country meet, marching band competitions, and the Parent Meeting at Draper Park regarding the school schedule. He congratulated Board members on their re-elections, and thanked his Board colleagues for engaging in robust discussions on agenda items. 

President Taylor expressed confidence in Oaks in her new role on the Board. He expressed his admiration for all the members of the Board. He thanked Dr. Roderick-Landward for the mathematics-curriculum proposal presentation and the Sandy Police officers for providing security during Board meeting.
Planning a family trip for the holidays? Hoping to squeeze in a few extra days of vacation the week before or after Winter Recess?

‘Tis the season for reconnecting with faraway friends and family, and the timing of your travel plans can influence the cost of plane tickets and hotel stays. But keep in mind the costs to your children’s education when they miss too much school.

Canyons District’s schools will be open, our teachers will be teaching, and our students will be learning right up until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the start of the winter break on Thursday Dec. 20—and we’ll waste no time starting up again after the New Year.

“When it comes to keeping kids on track academically, every day of instruction counts,” says Canyons District Responsive Services Administrator Colleen Smith who is working with schools to spread awareness of the hazards of absenteeism. “We don’t begrudge students the learning opportunity of traveling to new places. But absences tend to soar around the holidays, and families often don’t realize how quickly they can add up.”

Missing just a few days here and there can contribute to elementary students falling behind in reading, writing and math, a growing body of research shows. For example, four out of five students who miss two days per month, or 10 percent, of kindergarten and first grade are unable to read on-level by the third grade. By the sixth-grade, excessive absenteeism is a warning sign of a student not graduating from high school.

Put simply, too many absences—even excused absences—at any age can harm a student’s chances for academic success, Smith says. This year, Canyons District is encouraging students to “Be Great, Miss Less than Eight,” and schools will be finding creative ways to encourage good attendance habits, and reward students for coming to school every day, on time and ready to learn. 

Think your child’s school has avoided the naughty list? Think again. Last year, 7,111 students districtwide—21 percent—were chronically absent, or missed at least 10 percent of the school year. Zero in on individual schools, and you’ll find instances where as many as 32 percent of the students were chronically absent, says Instructional Specialist Jonathan Stewart, noting there are hotspots of absenteeism in every corner of the District.

Hitting the 10 percent mark is easier to do than it sounds, says Stewart. “That’s the equivalent of skipping just one day every other week.”

A bout with the flu, a midday doctor’s appointment, and extended family vacation can easily put a student over the threshold for the term, Stewart says. “We have had terms (quarters or semesters) where nearly half an entire school was chronically absent.”

And while such spikes may be an anomaly, large numbers of students missing class can affect the pace of instruction for the entire classroom, Stewart says. “It can really slow things down, creating extra work for the teacher and a missed opportunity to advance for the other students.”

What can parents do? Smith says it’s important to set firm expectations early in the school year, and early in a child’s educational career, and to be consistent in enforcing them.

“Sometimes life gets in the way. There will always be unforeseen illnesses and family emergencies—even rare special occasions—that pull kids from school,” Smith says. “But children, even teenagers, take cues from their parents, and it’s important to let them know that in school, work and life, showing up is important. It really comes down to establishing a daily routine, and reinforcing for your children how much you value an education.”

Attendance Tips for Parents
  • Let your children know that you think showing up for school every day is important.
  • Take an interest in your child’s school work and be involved in school activities.
  • Post the school calendar somewhere prominently in the home.
  • Establish a routine and healthy school-night habits, such as getting to bed early and reading before bed, instead of watching TV.
  • Set the morning alarm early enough to provide students ample time to get dressed and eat breakfast.
  • Support your children in getting to school on time: Give them a ride if they’re running late or they miss the bus, or arrange to carpool with other families.
  • Try to schedule doctor and dental appointments after school.
Denmark isn’t a socialist utopia where everything is free, as Bernie Sanders is wont to describe it. Nor is it an example of the pitfalls of socialism as portrayed in a recent White House report that compared Denmark’s standard of living to that of Venezuela.

In fact, the Nordic country isn’t socialist at all, Denmark’s Ambassador to the United States Lars Gert Lose explained to a group of Brighton High students on Friday. “We are a social-democratic country.”

It’s a nuance that may be tough to describe on a bumper sticker, or in 140 characters or less, but it wasn’t lost on the Model UN and Advanced Placement students who gathered in Brighton’s auditorium to hear Lose speak. The Ambassador’s appearance was arranged by social studies teacher Jim Hodges through Brigham Young University’s Kennedy Center.  The Kennedy Center sponsors several ambassadorial visits each year, and arranges to have the dignitaries meet with as many student groups as possible. danishsmall

At Brighton, Lose spoke of life as a diplomat and of Denmark’s long and valued ties to the United States. The two countries may not agree on everything, he said, but “there’s much more that binds us together than separates us.”

Denmark’s diplomatic relationship with America dates back to 1801 due, in part, to historically large Danish migration to this country. Economically, the two countries are important to one another. “The U.S. is the third largest market for Danish companies, bigger than France or the UK,” Lose said. And the two regions share common foreign security philosophies with their investments in military defense.

Culturally and politically the two countries may sometimes seem worlds apart, but the distinctions aren’t as black-and-white as is commonly thought. Among the surprising facts that Lose shared:
  • Denmark is part of the European Union but has its own currency.
  • The country has a democratic political system and free and open-market economy, but also could be described as a welfare state due to its government-funded health care, higher education, and robust social supports.
  • The vast majority of Danes are affiliated with trade unions because the government doesn’t regulate employment standards, such as setting a minimum wage. Liberal employment regulations also make it easier to hire and fire workers who can always fall back on the country’s safety net, creating more job mobility. But unemployment is low, and currently at about 3.6 percent, and productivity high. 
  • Lose described his homeland as a “very pragmatic and compromising country” with nine political parties in Parliament that have had to learn to work together in order to get work done.
Of course, the Danes devote nearly have their wages to income tax. Social supports “come at a price,” Lose said, “but it’s true that we have a great quality of life.”

Denmark’s foreign policy priorities include the fight against terror and climate change. The country began innovating in the area of renewable energy in the 1970s in response to an oil crisis. Renewable energy sources now meet half of the country’s energy needs, Lose said.

The country also would like to see free-trade alliances and agreements preserved. There’s nothing wrong with Trump Administration’s America-first stance, Lose said. “We have a Denmark-first policy as well.” Lose also agreed that the World Trade Organization has allowed China to compete unfairly.

But Lose questioned the logic of “blowing up” fair-trade rules and structures in an effort to improve them. “That won’t play well in the long-term. Look at Utah. I think 25 percent of all jobs here are dependent on global trade,” he said. “The point is how you pursue America’s interests. Playing a zero-sum game and having to win every single time, makes it difficult to find compromise.”