We’re all wet in Canyons District — for a good cause.

Many principals, students, teachers and parents — and, yes, even Canyons' new Superintendent, Dr. Jim Briscoe — have joined such celebrities as Justin Timberlake, Tim McGraw and Lady Gaga in the ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge.”  On Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, Dr. Briscoe joined Assistant Superintendent Bob Dowdle and School Performance Directors Mike Sirois, Alice Peck and Joanne Ackerman in completing the challenge.

They called out their counterparts in the Jordan District. Sirois said that the creation of Canyons District six years ago should be "water under the bridge ... or, rather, on top of our heads."  Dr. Briscoe, as a new school district superintendent in Utah, thanked Utah Gov. Gary Herbert for sending warm correpondence upon his arrival to  Canyons District — and then challenged the governor to do the chilly ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. 

The challenge requires the participant to pour a bucket of ice water over her or his head — and challenge others to do the same within 24 hours.  At that point, those who are “called out” can choose either to be soaked with cold water or make a donation to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Videos and photos of people being doused in the challenge, which started July 29, have flooded social media. To date, the campaign has raised an estimated $80 million.

Alta High's Brian McGill volunteered to complete his challenge on live TV.  Principal Charisse Hilton and her crew at Brighton High accepted the challenge from their faculty and staff. PTSA students at Corner Canyon High did the challenge in honor of a student's father who is living with ALS. New Albion Principal Darrell Jensen and his team of administrators did it in front of a screaming middle-school crowd. Members of Union Middle's administrative team were soaked by students during a lunch period — and they called out Mount Jordan's principal and assistant principals. Even Hillcrest High Principal Sue Malone was called out by a member of the Utah State Legislature.

There have been countless other instances of our teachers, students, parents, principals, PTA leaders and District Office administrators doing the challenge to raise awareness and raise funds to help the ALS Association. See our Facebook for videos and photos of many more in CSD who are completing the challenge. 

There’s only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ALS. As a result, ALS is 100 percent fatal. In addition to acclimating to the challenges that come with losing control of voluntary muscle movement, people with the disease progressively lose their ability to eat, speak, walk, and eventually breathe, according to the association.
Friday, 29 August 2014 00:00

Kindergartners: 'I Will Be College-Ready'

What will students in the Class of 2027 be when they grow up? Doctors, zoo keepers, pilots, judges – even Iron Man.

Canyons School District kindergartners capped their first week of school Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 with a special day dedicated to getting ready for the future. Canyons' Kindergarten College-Ready Day, now in its sixth year, is an opportunity for Canyons District teachers and principals to start talking about college and careers with their youngest students.

Throughout the District, some 2,500 kindergartners in 29 elementary schools engaged in activities and discussions about how college can help them achieve their dreams. Each received a wristband imprinted with the message, "I will be college-ready ... Class of 2027." At Quail Hollow Elementary, students drew pictures of what they want to be when they grow up. Students at Sandy and Park Lane elementaries were greeted by teachers and school leaders wearing academic regalia. Edgemont Elementary students dressed as chefs, firefighters and soldiers or in college logo-emblazoned T-shirts and received "diplomas" and three cheers for college-readiness from the Jordan High School cheer squad.

Canyons District is focused on ensuring all students are college- and career-ready when they graduate high school, and recognizes the importance of expressing this goal early in a child's education. Kindergarten College-Ready Day premiered in 2009, the first academic year for Utah's first voter-created school district in a century.
Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00

CSD Employees Named Utah's Best

The Utah Parent Center has named CSD Special Education Director Robin Collett the Utah Administrator of the Year, and Eastmont Middle School's Laurie Hofstetter the Paraeducator of the Year, for their advocacy of students with disabilities.

Collett, who has worked 26 years in special education, is recognized for balancing a "masterful understanding of Special Education law" with sensitivity to the needs of students and parents.

"She understands the stressors and consequently the needs of families and responds compassionately to support them," the Center writes. "Robin is well respected throughout Utah and is viewed as a leader among her education colleagues."

Hofstetter, who completed her work at Eastmont in spring 2014, is known for her sunny disposition and attitude, her calming effect on students, and her efforts to make every child feel special.

"She makes sure to compliment each child throughout the day, and points out their positive behavior instead of focusing on the negative ones," a parent nominator writes. "It is obvious how much she cares ... and how much she wants them to succeed."

The Utah Parent Center is a state organization created to help families help children with disabilities to live productive lives.
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00

Headlines Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

Around Canyons
CTEC's CODE class encourages girls to pursue STEM careers

CSD's Jared Ward talks flipped classrooms on Rod Arquette Show (starts at 16:00)

CSD honors special education employees

Draper Elementary whistles for watchdogs

Live on 2News: Alta principal gives tips for parent involvement in school, takes 'Ice Bucket Challenge'

Corner Canyon hopes to capitalize on gridiron experience

Would tuition incentive encourage college completion?

Successful programs speak against UHSAA classification reassignment proposal

Louisiana governor sues Obama Administration over Common Core

Trib: Anti-Common Core mood smacks of ignorance

WaPo: School start times don't jibe with teens' biological clock

Letters: Lockhart not qualified to lead Utah public schools
Before schools welcomed students for the first time this school year, Canyons District’s Special Education Department gathered for some professional development and to acknowledge the accomplishments of seven of their colleagues. 

On Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, some 200 teachers and related-service providers filled the auditorium and classrooms at Corner Canyon High School as they participated in the District’s sixth annual Special Education Opening Institute.  After Superintendent Jim Briscoe addressed the audience, this year, for the first time, the District honored seven individuals nominated by their colleagues for their excellent work with students.

“Last spring each of you were given an opportunity to nominate individuals who you, as teachers and related-service providers, want to recognize as the individuals in our schools who routinely take the ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary,” Canyons District Special Education Director Robin Collett told the crowd. “Your choices represent us well and we look forward to this tradition continuing for years to come.”

The professionals recognized in seven different areas are as follows:

  • Preschool: Deborah Willoughby, Sandy Elementary and Midvale Elementary
  • Elementary School: Shelley Phillips, Park Lane Elementary Accommodated Core
  • Middle School: Melody Andrus, Butler Middle School
  • High School: Anne Behrent, Alta High School
  • School Psychologist: Megan Terry, Copperview Elementary
  • Speech Language Pathologist: Amy Tyrell, Copperview Elementary
  • Related-Service Provider: Sue Mikel, physical therapist

Colleagues nominated Willoughby for her ability to create learning opportunities that help her students grow and progress. She works to build a positive relationship with each student and brings a positive energy into the preschool.

Phillips was nominated for her skills in working with students with autism. She effectively keeps all of her students engaged in classroom learning and provides much needed structure.

Andrus goes above and beyond to make sure her students have every opportunity to be successful, her colleagues have observed. She is an advocate for her students, a great mentor and friend for teachers, and she is a leader at Butler Middle School.

Behrent has helped to make Alta High more accessible for all special education students. She was nominated for her dedication to excellence in education for all students and for all teachers, but she is especially a champion of special education students.

Terry’s patience and enthusiasm while working with students and others is inspiring to her colleagues. She is recognized for her calm, precise thinking and dependability in stressful situation.

Colleagues nominated Tyrell for her willingness to share her expertise and experiential knowledge. She looks at the positive aspects of what her students can do and taps into their deficits, all while providing skills for life.

As a physical therapist, Mikel works with students at all of Canyons’ schools, except for Jordan Valley. Colleagues say her enthusiasm for work is contagious and her problem-solving skills are inspiring.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014 00:00

National Honor for CSD Community Schools

Canyons School District has received the prestigious Youth and Family Partnership Award from the National Center for School Mental Health.

The Center each year selects just one exemplary school district, organization or school mental health program nationwide that effectively partners with youth and families in delivering quality school mental health programming. This year's award went to CSD Community Schools, which are located at Copperview, East Midvale, Midvale and Sandy elementary schools.

"This award is a tribute to every staff member who has been willing to work in new ways to meet student needs using CARE Teams, on-site therapists and youth development professionals," said Karen Sterling, Director of Student Advocacy and Access for Canyons School District. She and her team were surprised with the award in an announcement at the Title I Community Schools Conference held in August 2014 at Salt Lake Community College.

The award recognizes CSD community schools, and the community partners who work with CSD to improve student achievement at Title I schools. The partners are: Valley Mental Health; Boys and Girls Club of South Valley; PLAYWorks; and the Canyons Family Learning Centers. The award also recognizes the foundational work of Ohio State University Professor Dr. Dawn Anderson-Butcher and Carol Anderson of the Utah State Office of Education, who worked to implement Community Schools as a model of School Improvement.

The national honors will be awarded to District and CSD community partners on Sept. 19, 2014 at the Center's annual conference in Pittsburgh.

The Center for School Mental Health is located at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Committee to Discuss Alternatives to Portables

Superintendent Jim Briscoe is forming a committee, with involvement and support from the Board, to discuss ways, other than portable classrooms, to address Draper and Midvale school enrollments.

In his Superintendent's Report, Dr. Briscoe proposed the committee, and said it will serve to examine short- and long-term plans to address area enrollment growth, particularly at Draper Park Middle School, Corner Canyon High School and Midvale Elementary. The committee is expected to bring a recommendation to the Board in November.

Dr. Briscoe said Corner Canyon High is using spaces normally not used for classrooms and teachers are using carts to travel to different classrooms. While he said Midvale has portables to help reduce class size to boost student achievement, he also noted the area is experiencing population growth.

The committee will include Board Members Chad Iverson and Robert Green and President Sherril Taylor, who represent the areas of focus. Board Member Kim Horiuchi suggested representation from affected and neighboring schools as well.

Horiuchi suggested that the study include examining whether the goals of boundaries and permits are being met and the district's fiduciary responsibility to optimally utilize available space. Board Member Chad Iverson noted there is an impending capacity issue for many Draper area schools. He said there are two ways to solve the issue: change boundaries, increase capacity, or both. He said those are tough decisions the Board will have to make.

For details or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 9A.

New Administrators Appointed

The Board approved the appointment of the following administrators:
  • Dan Harper, Director of Civil Rights and Accommodations and interim General Counsel, will serve as Director of Civil Rights and General Counsel.
  • Gary Warwood, who has worked the past 16 years in Weber School District, will serve as Director of Accounting.
  • Eric Gardner, an achievement coach at Mount Jordan Middle School, was named Assistant Principal of Mount Jordan. He replaces Kami Anderson, who has moved to pursue other opportunities out of the state.
Teacher and Administrator Evaluation Policy Discussed

The Board discussed revising the policy on educator evaluations to comply with a new state law. The Board received an update from Human Resources Director Steve Dimond about the development of the state-mandated educator evaluation system for teachers and school administrators. Both systems seek to promote professional practices via professional development, goal-setting, and reflection. The tools include professional performance, student growth and stakeholder input; components will be utilized to determine a rating of the professionals' effectiveness. The State Office of Education has not yet determined how the components will be weighted.

Evaluation system field tests will begin this year; full implementation is scheduled for the 2015-2016 school year. The proposed policy would replace the current evaluation system, the Jordan Performance Appraisal System (JPAS), with the new evaluation tool.

Jordan UniServ Director Laura Black Arnold said the teachers association has felt involved in the process and is comfortable with the tool so far.
For details or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2A.

Board Member Suggests Title I Support Discussion

Green suggested the Board can improve success of Title I schools and close the achievement gap by more closely examining those schools' student achievement and related data. Dr. Briscoe, who Board Member Tracy Cowdell noted has improved student success in underperforming schools in his previous school district, suggested examining data and achievement gaps in all schools, not just Title I schools, including how district resources are invested and whether changes need to be made.

To listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2D.

Board Action

The Board approved a Pupil Accounting policy that tracks students in nontraditional programs in accordance with a new law. The rule requires district track students enrolling in the Canyons Virtual High School, and their attendance. Enrollment and attendance are tied to state funding. Policy Coordinator Jeff Christensen noted Canyons already is performing those duties.

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the Aug. 5 Minutes; Purchasing Bids; July Financial Reports; July Hires and Terminations; and Administrative Appointments. The Board also approved Student Overnight Travel for Alta Girls Tennis; Brighton Drill; CSD FCCLA; and Jordan Drama and Dance.

School Security Update

The Board received an update on new security measures, including new protocols for special education and other buses, to ensure students remain safe.

New bus security procedures include a daily review of surveillance tape captured in cameras placed throughout each CSD bus; requirements that star seats are buckled and unbuckled by a parent or designee at home stops and by aides or teachers at school stops; and implementation of a new star seat tether to help maintain physical boundaries when students are buckled in star seats. The Board also observed a star seat demonstration from trainer Lonnie Wilkins.

Other security measures have been implemented in CSD facilities, including secure entrances, 24/7 alarm response teams, and security cameras; coordination and training with first responders and creation of school-tailored incident management plans; emergency communications; and in online security, including backup and disaster recovery, data centers, full card access and system security and student lab protections.

To view the presentation or listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 5.

Patron Comments

Patron Steve Van Maren suggested the trust lands update include revenues from cell towers. He suggested the District place water sensors in schools to limit damage in the event of a flood.

Superintendent's Report

Dr. Briscoe apologized to the Board for not bringing the idea of placing 12 portables at Corner Canyon High to the Board for ratification. He revealed plans to create a committee to examine alternatives to portables. He attended the peer-led freshman orientation at Jordan High, and praised the work to create a positive event he hoped could be duplicated elsewhere. He commended Susan Edwards for helping the dual immersion teachers work through issues at Homeland Security so they could start school tomorrow. He said he had a conversation with United Way and Savage, and believes a partnership can be worked out to benefit Midvale students. He noted he will interview live on KTVX Channel 4 at 6 a.m. Wednesday, and was excited for what will be his very first day of school in Canyons.

CFO's Report

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox updated the Board on building projects that were expected to be completed in the first weeks of school, including striping of the Ridgecrest parking lot due to rain; flooring in the gym and stage area damaged by flood at Eastmont (to be completed by Oct. 1); and Alta High's new classrooms and front entrance. He commended bus drivers for the good work they do, and note that they last year drove 1.5 million miles – the equivalent of traveling about 60 times around the equator.

Board Comments

Green reported on meeting with United Way executives and District leaders about how a partnership would help students. He said the partnership sounds like a good idea, and that it is working in other districts. He appreciates Dr. Briscoe's efforts to collaborate with United Way, and hopes an agreement can be drafted and brought to the Board in the fall. He attended the Midvale Harvest Days parade, and noted some patrons were asking about starting school in mid-August, taxes and the Common Core. He said the American dream is realized through education. He said he wouldn't be the man he is now without opportunities in public schools.

Horiuchi attended the Cottonwood Heights City luncheon honoring area CSD Teachers of the Year, and values the partnership CSD has with its cities. She attended the Salt Lake Choral Artists high school concert, which ended up becoming Libby Gardner Hall's largest concert to date. She said it included 260 students from 11 schools – including Alta, Hillcrest and Brighton – by invitation only, and said all students sang as a group in the finale. She praised the students and the choir directors for their outstanding work. She said she is looking forward to the start of the school year, and appreciates the work done over the summer prepare schools, buildings and grounds. She praised the district's Call Center, which is aimed at ensuring high-quality customer service leading up to and during the first two weeks of school. She said the Call Center is expected take 2,000 phone calls from patrons in the first week.

Second Vice President Nancy Tingey reported on the Utah School Boards Association Annual Delegate Assembly. She said one meeting was especially informative that included state education officials, the Governor's Office and State PTA on a discussion panel about how entities can work as partners in education. She said the Delegates also set legislative priorities. She said Wrigley also attended the meeting. She attended the Cottonwood Heights teacher of the year honors; gave a monthly update to the City Council; and expressed excitement about the new construction timeline for Butler Elementary and Brighton soccer field. She thanked the administrators and employees, and said she is grateful for CSD's mindset of continuous improvement of student safety, welfare, and academics. She wished everyone a happy first day of school.

Wrigley said Tingey is humble, and noted that she chaired the USBA meeting Friday night. He said several people from White City have called him about the Board's plans to rebuild one of the schools there. He suggested getting input from the school communities as part of the information gathering process. He noted that the last Meet the Superintendent meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 4 at Silver Mesa Elementary at 7 p.m. He thanked Evidence-Based Learning Directors Dr. Hollie Pettersson and Amber Roderick-Landward for their outstanding and informative presentation on the Utah Core last week. He planned to attend red carpet events on the first day of school. He's looking forward to the new academic year, and thanked employees for their work to prepare for it.

Cowdell thanked the teachers and staff and others who have made preparations to get ready for school to start. He said he's never felt so prepared to begin a new school year. He added that since tonight is a school night, he'll end his remarks there.

Iverson thanked the Administration and staff for preparing for the school year, and he's excited for it to start. He enjoyed the town hall meeting at Corner Canyon High School with Dr. Briscoe, and enjoyed watching parents experience the new superintendent and see why the Board was excited to hire him to lead Canyons. He said he's been interested in media coverage of the state superintendency. He gave a shout out to Terryl Warner, a new State Board of Education member who called for an investigation as to why that board would hire a superintendent without an open meeting. He noted the state board will revisit that decision, and said he is an advocate for transparency on our Board and with other public entities.

Taylor thanked Dr. Briscoe for meeting with constituents on Aug. 13, and said he was amazed at his depth of understanding and appreciated his work to ensure CSD is the best district in the nation. He thanked employees and teachers for their willingness to prepare for the school year and serve students in the district. He said as an administrator, he used to sense a special feeling in the air at the start of school, and senses that now. He's looking forward to the new academic year.

Closed Session

The Board met in Closed Session for the purpose of discussing the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual, and the deployment of security personnel, devices or systems.