Thursday, 20 July 2017 18:46

Is my child eligible for busing?

Eligibility for busing is largely determined by Utah laws governing school transportation, but finding out if your child is eligible for busing is easy. Just click here for an interactive database where you can plug in your address to see if busing is available and where to find the bus stop. Non-qualifying students can submit a request for transportation services so they can ride with their qualifying siblings or neighbors — if there is space available on the bus. Space-available permits are granted on a first-come, first-served, space-available basis. You can request a permit application from your school, starting Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. Families will be notified about whether their permits were approved by Sept. 15.
Thursday, 20 July 2017 17:10

Is Your Child Ready for School?

When does school start? Where does my child meet the bus? What’s on the lunch menu?

You've got back-to-school questions. Canyons School District has answers. Parents can stay in the know by frequently checking canyonsdistrict.org, but following are a few key dates and pieces of information for families to keep in mind.

For Your Calendar
Aug. 3 Online Registration Opens
Aug. 22 Sixth-Grade Orientation
Aug. 23 First Day of School
Aug. 25 Canyons District Night at Rio Tinto Stadium
Aug. 28 First Day of Kindergarten
Sept. 4 Labor Day

How to Register for School
Point, click, register, it’s that easy. Starting Aug. 3, CSD families can register their children for school online. If your child has attended CSD in the past: You will use your Guardian Skyward Family Access ID and Password to begin the online-registration process at http://skyward.canyonsdistrict.org/. If your child is new to CSD:  You will need to begin the enrollment process at your child’s school. Click here for a list of walk-in dates.

How to Sign Up to Volunteer
Last year, more than 12,500 volunteers — about one volunteer for every three CSD students — registered to lend a hand in CSD schools, be it to read with a child or help a student master multiplication tables. Be a part of something great, and join our volunteer team. Applications for the 2017-2018 school year are now being accepted. To sign-up, click here and follow the prompts.

Information on Bus Routes
Click here for an interactive database to find out if your child is eligible for busing, and where to find the bus stop.

What Time Does School Start and End?
A complete list of bell schedules for all CSD schools can be found here.

Lunch Menus
What's for lunch? Check here throughout the school year for weekly school breakfast and lunch menus.

For Everything Else: A-Z List of Parent Resources

Canyons District’s summertime fundraising luncheon has gone countywide!

Each summer, Canyons District employees collect food, clothing and back-to-school supplies for students in need—and this year, we're inviting everyone to participate.

Join us as we take part in Z104's three-day, “Tools for School” donation drive. Giving is easy. Just drop off your donations in the south-end parking lot of The Shops at South Town any time August 8-10, and say hello to Z104 radio personalities Dave and Deb who will be spending three nights at the shopping center in Canyons District buses. The event will benefit students throughout the Salt Lake valley.

Out of town that week? No matter. You can contribute cash or in-kind gifts any time to the Canyons Education Foundation. For more information email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here's a list of needed items: Canned food, clothing and shoes (all sizes), personal hygiene items, school supplies, and backpacks.

Board Meeting Summary, July 11, 2017

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

Land Trust Plans

Alice Peck, Director of Elementary Schools, shared for the Board’s consideration updated Land Trust plans for Alta High and Butler Middle School. The originally proposed plans were rejected by a reviewer with the state, because they proposed to cover the cost of counselors, which the rules don’t allow. Land Trust money must be devoted to school improvement plans for boosting student achievement. However, as the amended plans strive to better explain, these counselors would be tasked with monitoring and supporting academic performance, Peck explained. The plans were amended to add clarifying language and contain no substantive changes, she added. The Board approved them on the consent agenda and directed the administration to file an appeal with the state.

Discussion About Possible Construction Projects

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox sketched out a possible plan for continuing to address capital needs. In 2009, CSD’s inaugural year, an architectural review showed $650 million in needed repairs. Since then, the District has completed or begun work on 13 major upgrades financed through a $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010. Wilcox presented information on buildings that could possibly be targeted for improvements if the District were to seek another tax-neutral bond. Board members were generally supportive of the idea, but agreed they want more information before making a final decision, including the results of an opinion poll to gauge public support. In addition to eight major rebuilds or refurbishments, a for-discussion-only list of possible construction projects includes a plan to add skylights to 18 elementary schools in every corner of the District. The Board will take up the issue at the next meeting on August 1.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the consent agenda including: minutes from the June 13 and June 27 meetings; new hires and terminations; purchasing bids; student travel plans, June financial reports; amended Trust Plans for Alta High and Butler Middle; and an MOU with the Canyons Education Association regarding a 2017-2018 salary placement conversion.
Fifteen-year-old survives lung surgery to compete in national bowling championship 

Emily Pelzer was just 7 years old when she first saw a school flier inviting kids to come bowling. It seemed like it could be fun, so she asked her mom if they could go.

Eight years later, the soon-to-be sophomore at Hillcrest is still bowling — but the sport has become much more than a hobby. It’s a lifeline.

It turns out Pelzer is a natural at the sport. One year after she showed up to the bowling alley for the first time, the 8-year-old won her first national title, representing Utah in the national competition. Now that she’s 15, Pelzer has earned seven national titles in all, and this weekend she is going for another.

To face 4,500 competitors in the national bowling competition is a challenge of its own. But Pelzer has an ace up her sleeve. To her, bowling isn’t just a fun way to pass the time. It’s a metaphor for life. “You can learn a lot from it,” Pelzer says after finishing a long day working at Fat Cats bowling alley.

The last time Pelzer took her title to the countrywide competition, she placed 21 out of 450 competitors — and unbeknownst to her, she was playing with a partially collapsed lung. Pelzer’s mother, Sheri Harding, found her daughter on the floor not long after that game, lethargic and blue from the lack of oxygen reaching her system.

Pelzer, they later discovered, had three dime-sized holes in her right lung, caused by a chain of events that occurred when she had an allergic reaction to something she ate in the sixth grade, which caused her to go into anaphylactic shock. To stop the shock, paramedics gave her a different medicine, which triggered a second allergic reaction. Pelzer aspirated the medicine, which burned her lungs as soon as the medicine made contact. Harding didn’t know her daughter’s lungs were damaged, but at the time, she was just focused on helping Pelzer survive.

“They didn’t really give her much hope to actually live after she had that (first anaphylactic shock),” Harding says. “She was pretty much gone, and they brought her back, and it was really scary.”

Since then, Pelzer has had extreme allergic reactions to other common ingredients, but she was unaware of the extent to which her lung had been damaged four years ago. In the last year, the teenager had reconstructive lung surgery to correct the problem. The recovery process nearly took over her life, but there was one thing that kept Pelzer going: bowling. 

“I said, ‘All right, I’m not going to give up just because my lungs are giving up on me,’” Pelzer said. “I’m not going to let that happen because I know my body is more comfortable doing this sport than any other sport.”

So, Pelzer resumed her training, working on her spares and strikes nearly every day, preparing for the national championships that take place this weekend in Ohio. Pelzer already has a full-ride scholarship to Texas A&M because of her bowling skills, but she has her eye on the top prize: a $300,000 scholarship and registration on Team USA for the next summer Olympics.

Canyons District will be cheering this Husky on, but no matter what, she is already a hero to us.
A summer academy created to put entering Hillcrest High freshmen on the path to excel their first, make-or-break, and beyond, has earned CSD the honor of being named a 2017 District of Distinction by District Administration Magazine. The award recognizes districts for leading the way with educational innovations “that are yielding quantifiable benefits, and that could be replicated by other districts.”

Hillcrest is a place where achievement is possible for all students. It consistently ranks among Utah’s top 10 high schools in U.S. News & World Report rankings, which look at graduation rates and test scores with an emphasis on the performance of disadvantaged students; more than 40 percent of Hillcrest’s students are from low-income households.

But in the summer of 2016, Hillcrest Principal Greg Leavitt began asking what it would take to ensure every student reaches his or her potential. His answer: a rigorous summer preparatory academy to give incoming ninth-graders a jump on high school. How students perform in the first months of their freshman year can determine whether they drop out or graduate.

Working with the family of elementary and middle schools that feed into Hillcrest, Leavitt identified students most likely to benefit from the inaugural Husky Strong Summer Academy where, for 30 days, 80 students received four hours of daily instruction in math, science, English and geography. Students had to forgo their summer breaks, but those who completed the coursework started school with a quarter of an elective credit under their belts. They also were eligible for cash incentives of up to $400 sponsored by the United Way of Greater Salt Lake.

The program, coupled with mentoring of students throughout their high school careers, has contributed to a 10 percent increase in the number of Husky freshmen on track to graduate. The strategy is now being adopted by Jordan High, which on June 12 welcomed about 45 freshmen to its inaugural summer academy.

The idea of paying kids to go to school has its detractors. But the stipends aren’t meant as a reward for performance, explains Jordan High Principal Wendy Dau. They’re a means to remove barriers. “Many of these kids have summer jobs or other responsibilities at home, such as looking after younger siblings, and we’re asking them to put those aside in order to come to school. We know that the biggest barrier to successful summer programs is that students do not attend regularly.”

huskystrongstudent.jpgAt an orientation event this past June to introduce students to the program, Husky Strong graduate Chris Allen encouraged his peers to take advantage of the opportunity, which he credits for helping him earn a recurrent spot on the Honor Roll and achieve a 4.0 grade point average last semester. “I know some of you are thinking this is a waste of time, but it’s the most valuable time you’ll spend all summer,” he told them.

The benefits of the program extend well past summer. Academy “graduates” are paired with mentors with whom they meet at least weekly throughout their high school careers to chart academic progress and set goals. “Being involved in the program taught me how much we need to teach students to do school. We need to teach them really specifically our expectations and we need to teach them how to be successful,” says Hillcrest Assistant Principal Sara Newberry. “You’ve got kid walking down a path. They can’t necessarily see the end of that path or the obstacles that are coming up in front of them. My job is to clear those obstacles so they can walk down that path.”

One of Utah’s largest newspapers called the initiative a "smart, sensible and innovative" approach “to dealing with a specific problem — one that happens to be at the heart of any education system’s principal mission — to make sure students who show up on the first day of school are still there when the bell rings on graduation day.” Parents who were surveyed agree the Academy was valuable, and student participants report feeling more confident.

“Students and parents know we’re on offense rather than defense,” says Leavitt. “We’re playing to win the game rather than just trying to cover up and come from behind.”

For more, see this Deseret News profile.

Recipe for Success
Every school faces unique challenges, and there is no one-size-fits all strategy for bridging the achievement gap. But here are a few key ingredients for a successful summer academy.

Adopt a Data Mindset: Using data from formative assessments, teachers are able to tailor their instruction and discern which strategies work or don’t work.
Seat-Time Matters: Ninth-graders who completed the Husky Strong Summer Academy continue outperform those who finished only a portion of the preparatory program.
Monitor and Mentor: Extra funding allowed Hillcrest Administrator Sara Newberry to get “off the alphabet,” the conventional way of assigning students to Assistant Principals, and focus exclusively on monitoring the progress of a select group of at-risk students. CARE teams at Hillcrest and Midvale Middle also collaborated to identify students in need of academic and emotional interventions, and choose students as best candidates for the Summer Academy.
Encourage and Motivate: Cash stipends were paid to student Academy participants as an attendance incentive. Each week, sometimes daily, either Hillcrest’s Assistant Principal, a counselor or an Americorps volunteer met with students to help them set goals and stay on track academically.
Connect with Family: Principals met with families at school and in their homes to explain the goals of the program, to help them understand the importance of their child’s attendance, and to better understand how the school can support them.
Strengthen Professional Development: Intensive coaching — sometimes as many as 10-25 sessions per teacher per year — has raised the quality of instruction at Hillcrest’s feeder schools and improved teacher morale.
Created by a vote of the people, Canyons District enjoys uncommon levels of community support. 

Last year, more than 12,500 volunteers — about one volunteer for every three CSD students — registered to lend a hand in CSD schools, be it to read with a child or help a student master multiplication tables. Together, they contributed more than 233,000 hours of service, and if trends continue, we expect an even greater showing of support next year.

Be a part of something great, and join our volunteer team. Applications for the 2017-2018 school year are now being accepted. To sign-up, click here and follow the prompts.

All volunteers in schools, including returning volunteers, and members of the PTA and School Community Council, must complete and submit a yearly application form for background screening. Approved applicants will receive confirmation by email along with information about volunteer opportunities. 

Questions? Please call the Canyons District Education Foundation at: 801-826-5171.
Monday, 03 July 2017 17:36

Happy 8th Birthday Canyons District

When Canyons, the first new school district in Utah in 100 years, opened its doors in 2009, the mandate was clear: Do what it takes to help students achieve their highest potential. If that means creating programs whereby middle schoolers can get a jump on high school and high schoolers can get a jump on college, so be it. If that means harnessing resources to pay teachers a professional wage, consider it done. It that means partnering with the community to spark innovations in the classroom, we’ll make it happen.

July 1, 2017 marks the successful conclusion of another year — Canyons District’s eighth — and with the community’s support, we’ve reached some significant milestones. The Board of Education approved the largest teacher pay raise in the District’s history, and crews broke ground on the 13th  and final construction project promised to voters as part of a $250 million bond, and that’s just the beginning.

The teachers, staff and principals here care deeply about what they do and how they do it, and it shows. Year eight has set a high bar for the future, but we’re confident it marks the beginning another extraordinary era. Happy birthday CSD!

2016-2017 Highlights

  • Three CSD high schools ranked in Utah’s top 10 for AP participation or pass rates: Brighton, Corner Canyon and Hillcrest.
  • Two CSD students won 2017 National Merit Scholarships.
  • A Hillcrest Husky was named a 2017 Sterling Scholar in the computer science category, and 22 CSD students were finalists in the state academic competition.
  • A Corner Canyon Charger earned a perfect 36 on the ACT, stretching the streak of at least one perfect ACT score every year since the creation of the District in 2009.
  • In their rookie year, Jordan High’s robotics team won the 2017 Utah Regional FIRST Robotics competition.
  • Thirty-one sporting students won Academic All-State Awards for excelling in athletics while maintaining high GPA’s (a combined average of 3.9).
  • Two athletes, Brighton High volleyball phenom Dani Barton and Alta High football standout Josh Davis, were named Utah Gatorade Players of the Year.
  • CSD student athletes won 21 team and individual state championships in girls golf, girls and boys tennis, wrestling, girls and boys swimming, track and field, boys soccer.
  • Hillcrest High took the state crown in 4A theatre.
  • Twenty-four students representing all five of CSD’s traditional high schools won “superior” honors at state choir, band and orchestra events. This is in addition to Hillcrest High’s string quartet, mixed vocal ensemble, and clarinet choir, and Corner Canyon’s wind symphony and orchestra, which also earned superior ratings.
  • Thirty-four CSD students took first place at state career and technical education competitions such as, Future Business Leaders of America.
  • The late Gretchen Murray, a teacher at Peruvian Park Elementary, was the second runner-up for Utah Teacher of the Year.
  • Altara Elementary School’s Joani Richardson was chosen to receive a $10,000 Huntsman Award for Educational Excellence.
  • Alta High soccer coach Lee Mitchell was named Gatorade Coach of the Year.
  • For his efforts to shrink the District’s carbon footprint, Christopher Eppler was honored as an Energy Pioneer at the Utah Governor’s 2017 Utah Energy Development Summit.
  • Crews broke ground on a remodel of Indian Hills Middle, and put the finishing touches on two rebuilds — Alta View Elementary and Midvale Middle — the last of 13 school improvement projects promised by the Canyons Board of Education with the passage of a $250 million bond.
  • The District maintained its sterling, “AAA” bond rating, which translates to low interest rates and millions in savings to taxpayers on school upgrades and new construction.
  • On our buses, we installed cameras and Child Checkmate systems to increase the safety and security of our students as they ride to and from school. Through the Child Checkmate system, drivers are reminded to check every seat to make sure students have exited the bus at the end of their routes.
  • Canyons was named a District of Distinction by District Administration Magazine for a coordinated, $416,000 effort to bridge the achievement gap at Hillcrest High. Committed to being a place where all students achieve, Hillcrest created a summer academy to give entering freshmen a jump on high school and put them on the path to excel that first, make-or-break year, and beyond. The program, coupled with daily mentoring and social and behavioral supports, has contributed to a 10 percent increase in the number of Husky freshmen on track to graduate.
  • Alta High accepted its first cohort of students into Step2theU, a novel program that will give hard-working juniors a chance to earn early college credit at the University of Utah. By the time these students graduate, they'll have two complete semesters under their belts, about $10,000 worth of university credit for the cost of $150.
  • The District expanded a successful pilot program to provide supplemental hours of instruction for kindergarten-age children. The tuition-based program has dramatically boosted student achievement across-the-board.
  • The Board of Education boosted CSD’s starting-teacher salary by more than $5,000 while also providing pay raises for mid-career and veteran educators, significantly improving their lifelong earnings and retirement. 
On October 4, 2016, CSD’s Board of Education refined the District’s mission statement: Every student who attends Canyons School District will graduate college- and career-ready. The Board also approved a new vision statement to bring the future into sharp focus, inspire daily improvement, and help every employee understand his or her fit and purpose within the organization. Informing this vision, are five tenets: student achievement, community engagement, customer service, innovation and fiscal accountability. These are the pillars upon which this district was built. They are the how, the why, and the means by which the District will achieve its mission, which is to instill within students the character, skills, habits and knowledge needed to succeed in college, thrive in the workplace, and be successful in life. We invite all patrons to visit CSD’s leadership page and learn more about the District’s goals, achievements and leadership.
The Board of Education met on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 to review the year’s accomplishments and discuss items of interest that could be addressed in the coming school year and beyond. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shill also presented ideas about creating a Board handbook.

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

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

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