Wednesday, 26 October 2016 17:52

Your Polling Station May Have Changed

Canyons District has always made its schools available to serve as polling stations. But for safety reasons, Salt Lake County decided for the 2016 Presidential Election to move its polling stations out of schools and place them at other community centers, such fire stations, libraries and senior centers. For a current list of polling stations, visit the Salt Lake County Clerk’s website

Canyons School District and its Board of Education remain neutral toward party affiliations and do not endorse political candidates. But we encourage you to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 22:43

Crisis Counseling Response at CSD Schools

Canyons School District will make crisis counselors available Wednesday and throughout the week to assist students, staff and faculty who are dealing with difficult emotions following Tuesday’s shooting of a Hillcrest High student outside Union Middle School. Faculty also will be given guidance on how to interact with students who express concern about their safety. Like everyone else, the Canyons District community is shaken and extremely saddened by Tuesday’s traumatic events. We have full confidence in the Sandy Police Department, which is conducting a thorough investigation and will continue to provide extra security at our schools. In addition, teachers and administrators will maintain a visible presence in school hallways between classes to monitor activity and positively engage with students. Canyons District strives to create safe and secure campuses at all times, and we will continue to work with law enforcement to maintain safe and secure learning environments at all of our schools.
Canyons is among six school districts in Utah being recognized by the College Board for opening Advanced Placement (AP) programs to a broader pool of students while also improving pass rates. Additionally, three CSD high schools rank in Utah’s top 10 for AP participation or pass rates: Brighton, Corner Canyon and Hillcrest.

More than 25,000 public school students in Utah took a total of 38,685 AP exams in 2016—a 6 percent bump in participation from 2015. Sixty-six percent scored high enough (earned scores of 3, 4, or 5) to earn college credit on those exams, according to a Utah State Board of Education analysis of  College Board data. That’s well above the national average pass rate of 55.9 percent.

A growing number of economically disadvantaged students also are taking AP exams. Utah saw a 10 percent jump in test-takers who are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunch, the Utah State Board of Education reports.

Dr. Hal Sanderson, Director of Research and Assessment attributes Canyons District’s high performance to the decision years ago to move the ninth grade into high school, which gave students a jump on a wide range of AP courses, from history to world language courses. He also credits CSD’s philosophy of open enrollment for middle school honors courses, which gives all middle-school-aged students the opportunity to be exposed at an early age to more rigorous coursework.
A:  Halloween is on a Monday this year, but each school has discretion over the scheduling of their Halloween parade, so be sure to check with the Main Office of your child’s school for details. Generally, principals set aside one day for inviting little ghouls and goblins to show off their costumes. For student safety reasons, no masks, weapons nor facsimiles of weapons are permitted.
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking the corresponding agenda items.

Indian Hills Relocation During Construction

The Board of Education voted to formally relocate Indian Hills Middle, 1180 E. Sanders Road, to the former Crescent View Middle building, 11150 Green Ridge Dr., for the 2017-2018 school year. Additionally The Board approved adjusting the transportation boundary to the Crescent View building so more students qualify for transportation services while Indian Hills is being renovated. The renovation of the middle school is being funded by a $250 million bond issuance approved by voters in 2010. This will be final project to be completed with proceeds from the bond.   The District has completed all projects promised to the voters at the time of the bond’s passage.

F1 Visa Update

Office of Planning and Enrollment Director Dr. Floyd Stensrud updated the Board on progress toward obtaining permission to award F-1 visas to foreign students who wish to study at CSD high schools. The District has paid the initial fees, completed all applications, and awaits approval, possibly as early as October or November. If approved, Canyons would join seven Utah school districts that offer F-1 visas.  The other districts are Alpine, Davis, Kane, Nebo, Murray City, Park City, and Provo. Stensrud reminded the Board of the pros and cons of maintaining an F-1 visa program. CSD currently awards J-1 visas to 18 students through Utah’s foreign exchange program. F-1 visas are another path for non-immigrant students to study in the U.S., which gives districts greater flexibility but also requires more hands-on work to administer. There is currently demand for F-1 visas from students who have relatives overseas who would like to study at CSD’s high schools, and from students whose parents had to leave the country but they would like stay in Utah, Stensrud said. Foreign exchange programs provide American students an opportunity to interact with youth from different cultures, and any costs are covered by enrollees who would pay CSD the rough equivalent of Utah’s Weighted Pupil Unit. It does, however, place an administrative burden on school staff and might necessitate hiring a coordinator.

Code to Success

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bob Dowdle spoke to the Board about “Code to Success,” an effort to teach students how to gain valuable computer-coding skills. Students who wish to participate in the proposed June-through-August course, which would be housed at Jordan High, would need to apply for entrance. The Board was asked to spend $27,000 to provide the program to up to 70 students in the summer. That would cover the cost of two teachers to provide 90 hours of instruction. Upon successful completion, students would receive an industry certification that would qualify them for a certain level of employment. The program is sponsored by the Ken Garff Automobile Group, the backers of Keys to Success. The Board will consider the proposal at a future meeting.

Governor Signs Declaration Honoring School Principals

With the flourish of his pen, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a declaration establishing Oct. 17-21 as Principals Week across the Beehive state. As busy as bees, principals in high, middle and elementary schools "serve as educational visionaries, instructional leaders, assessment experts, disciplinarians, community builders, public relations experts, budget analysts, facility managers and much more,” states the declaration. Principals, the governor says, set the academic tone for their schools and work collaboratively with teachers to increase student achievement. The Canyons Board of Education and Administration agree with the governor’s words, and wish to express appreciation for the lengths our principals go to ensure the college- and career-readiness of all our students. The governor's declaration was read into the minutes.

School Upgrades Proposal

Under a second reading, the Board considered more than two dozen small capital projects for the 2017-2018 school year, including a remodel of the Main Office at East Midvale Elementary; the installation of carbon-monoxide detectors at all elementary schools; and roofing and HVAC repairs. Each year, schools submit their construction wish lists, which are ranked by an administrative committee that weighs, among other things, whether the projects are a safety or security imperative, or will meet a legal requirement, said Business Administrator Leon Wilcox. If approved by the Board, the Purchasing Department will begin soliciting bids from February to March 2017 with a goal of having the projects completed the following fall.

Proposed Calendars

Office of Planning and Enrollment Director Dr. Floyd Stensrud presented two proposed calendars for the 2017-2018 academic year.  The calendar committee aimed to create a calendar that, for the ease of parents, would sync important dates and events at high, middle and elementary schools. Option No. 1 proposes to start school one week earlier than in the 2016-2017 school year.  It also provides time for elementary testing both in the fall and the spring; a two-week Winter Recess, and ends at the end of May. Option No. 2 largely mimics the 2016-2017 academic calendar. Per tradition, Brighton High has a separate calendar to accommodate the school’s trimester schedule. 

Consent Calendar

The Board of Education approved the consent calendar, including the approval of minutes from the Board meeting on Oct. 4; employment and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel; September financial reports; 2017 Utah Consolidation Application; and revised 2016-2017 Land Trust Plans for Union Middle School and Silver Mesa and Granite elementary schools. 

New Foundation Board President

The Board of Education ratified the appointment of John Martindale, Managing Partner of Alisa Capital, as the President of the Board of the Canyons Education Foundation. He succeeds Brad Snow, whose four-year leadership was honored during the Recognitions portion of the meeting. The Board also approved new Foundation bylaws and articles of incorporation and received the Foundation’s annual report.

Utah College Application Week

Two current students, Jordan High’s Gloria Equino and Jose Rios, and former Brighton High student Emma Critchlow, spoke in favor of Utah College Application Week, an event held annually to help every Canyons District senior submit a viable college application. The students spoke to the Board about how much UCAW events have positively impacted their lives. For example, Rios said he received a scholarship to attend college and play soccer. Critchlow is now attending Weber State University with money earned from a Foundation scholarship. The Canyons Education Foundation also pledged up to $10,000 to pay the college-application fees for low-income students.

Pledge of Allegiance, Reverence

Jordan High’s drill team presented the colors and led the audience in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance followed by brief remarks by Jordan Principal Tom Sherwood. Praising Jordan High as a socioeconomically diverse and high-achieving school, Sherwood noted that half of the school’s juniors and seniors this year are taking an Advanced Placement course and another 25 percent are taking a concurrent enrollment course for college credit. The school also is home to National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists and was the first school in the district to implement the AVID program.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Remarks

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe reported on attending a job fair at Brighton High. He also urged Board members to attend future job fairs at other CSD high schools. He also told the Board about his recent lunch meeting with PTA and SCC leaders, during which he presented the Board’s recently approved vision and mission statement.

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox told the Board that 34,017 students are enrolled in CSD, up by 118 from last year. He said the kindergarten enrollment is down 164 students this year, which could be a one-year blip in the counts. Wilcox also mentioned taking dignitaries, including Midvale Mayor Joann Seghini on a tour of the rebuild of Midvale Middle, which is scheduled to open next fall. In addition, he noted that sod turf will soon be installed at the new Butler Elementary. He also mentioned that Open Enrollment for health insurance will start Monday, Oct. 24.  All employees are required to signal whether they want to keep insurance or have insurance elsewhere.

Board of Education Reports

Mr. Robert Green reported on attending the recent Apex Awards and congratulated the winners. 

Mrs. Amber Shill thanked the presenters for explaining their items and following up on previous questions from the Board. She also thanked the team that planned and executed the Apex Awards. She invited the community to Brighton’s final football game of the season.

Mrs. Nancy Tingey asked the Board for an OK for the subcommittee regarding CSD’s vision and mission to reconvene and look at data compiled by Superintendent Briscoe. She thanked Dr. Briscoe for hosting the luncheon with PTA and SCC leaders and for leading a discussion on the newly approved vision and mission statements. She also expressed thanks for those who were honored with Apex Awards. She made special note of the schools that have amended the Land Trust Plans to address school needs. She invited the community to a 7 p.m. Town Hall on Oct. 27 at Albion Middle.

Mr. Steve Wrigley asked the Board to place the vision statement atop the Board meeting agenda with the aim of reminding the Board of the purpose of their work. He also attended the Arts Consortium meeting. He attended the Pathway to Professions conference. He also expressed thanks to those who planned the Apex Awards. 

Mr. Chad Iverson thanked Board members for approving the plan to move Indian Hills students to the old Crescent View Middle during the duration of construction. He attended middle school and high school cross country meets, as well as freshman/sophomore athletic contests. He went the league championship game between Brighton and Alta. He also invited the community to the Alta vs. Corner Canyon rivalry game.

President Sherril H. Taylor commended Canyons principals for their hard work and dedication. He said they deserve the week dedicated to their service. He thanked the officers for protecting the peace at Board meeting.
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 17:49

Chinese Dignitary Receives Dragon-Sized Welcome

The Draper Dragons received a special visit this week from a Chinese dignitary. Education Minister Counselor Cen Jianjun toured Draper Elementary’s Mandarin Chinese-English Dual Language Immersion classrooms while on a visit to Utah sponsored by Brigham Young University.

Fourth and fifth grade students had a chance to interact directly with Counselor Cen, and ask him questions about where he lives and the types of food he likes to eat. "Ask him if he knows about cotton candy," an enthusiastic student asked her teacher after struggling to describe the fluffy confection in Mandarin. Younger students sang songs and performed language and math drills to the visibly-impressed audience. Counselor Chen and his guests were joined by Canyons Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe, Board of Education Second Vice President Nancy Tingey and Board member Amber Shill. 

Draper Elementary is one of eight schools in Utah selected by China's Education Ministry and the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah to house “Confucius Classrooms.” This isn’t the school’s first foray into diplomacy. Last year, at the Utah Capitol a group of Draper students held a live teleconference with students at a sister school in China. Utah lawmakers hope to expand the digital diplomacy sessions, which give young learners a chance to hone their language skills and observe and learn differences in social norms and cultural beliefs.

Utah’s Dual Language Immersion Program was created by lawmakers in cooperation with former Gov. Jon Huntsman who is fluent in Mandarin and also served as U.S. Ambassador to China. CSD’s first immersion classes opened in 2009, the same year that the District was founded. The District is now home to eight elementary immersion programs, eight middle school programs, and soon will world language programs in its high schools.

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  • With the flourish of his pen, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a declaration establishing Oct. 17-21 as Principals Week across the Beehive state. As busy as bees, principals in high, middle and elementary schools “serve as educational visionaries, instructional leaders, assessment experts, disciplinarians, community builders, public relations experts, budget analysts, facility managers and much more,” states the declaration. Principals, the governor says, set the academic tone for their schools and work collaboratively with teachers to increase student achievement. The Canyons Board of Education and Administration agree with the governor’s words, and wish to express appreciation for the lengths our principals go to ensure the college- and career-readiness of all our students. The governor's declaration will be read into the minutes of the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

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  • Before anything, Alexander Graham Bell once said, preparation is the key to success. It took more than 120 hours of preparation time for Corner Canyon High Aaron Jackson, but the hard work certainly has paid off.

    The junior recently received word he earned a perfect 36 composite score on the ACT, the most commonly accepted U.S. college entrance exam.

    This summer, as other students lounged by the pool or went boating at the lake, Jackson pulled out his books to bone up for his maiden attempt at the exam. He estimates he studied three hours a day for the English, math, reading and science sections of the rigorous test. “I wouldn’t say that I was 100 percent expecting” a perfect score, Jackson says, “but I was hoping. It was my goal."

    His father woke him up at about 5 a.m. on the day the scores were released so the they could check the results. “We had to reload the page a few times to make sure I was seeing it right,” he said. His parents were ecstatic. He kept his enthusiasm checked so he didn’t wake his siblings.

    Since the news spread in the community, his cross-country team has given him high-fives, fellow students offered their congratulations — and, he says, his parents have been a little more lenient on time spent hanging out with his buddies. He doesn’t plan to take the test again — “I mean, I can’t get any higher," he says — but he’s put into place a solid academic pathway that may lead him to one of the colleges of his choice.

    This year alone, for example, he’s enrolled in five Advanced Placement courses. “I like learning,” he says. “I take the classes because they are enjoyable to me.”

    The schools on his short list: Harvard, Yale and Stanford. Now that he has earned a sterling score, he’s sharpening up his college application.

    On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all test-takers earns the top score. In the class of 2016 that took the test, only 2,235 of the 2.1 million who sat the exam earned a composite score of 36. The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of one to 36.

    A student's composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score. ACT test scores are accepted by all major U.S. colleges. Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.
    A: Last year, Utah's high school seniors lost out on $45.5 million in free money for college because they didn’t complete a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. But this year, it’s easier than ever to complete the online application, because families can start now—three months earlier than usual—and they can use their prior year’s taxes. What’s more, there’s an unprecedented amount of money available, a whopping $180 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a "B." Think you won’t qualify for needs-based aid? It’s still a good idea to complete a FAFSA, because at many colleges, it’s required in order to access academic scholarships, grants, loans and work-study opportunities. To help spread the word so that all students can take advantage of this historic investment in financial aid, schools throughout Utah are holding free FAFSA completion fairs. Here are the dates and time for fairs in Canyons District, which are open to all students, regardless of where they attend school:

    Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016

    Jordan High, 6-9 p.m.

    Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016

    Alta High, 5-8 p.m.

    Hillcrest High, 5-8 p.m.

    Corner Canyon High, 6-9 p.m.
    Armed with the book “Monte and the World of Possibilities,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert opened up global prospects for a class of upstart readers at Midvalley Elementary.  

    Herbert visited the elementary school recently to read to students and to impress upon them the importance of reading, especially in the formative years. Reading, he told them, is imperative to learning to master such other topics as science and math. 

    “I hope everyone here understand the importance of reading,” he said.  “If you want to have a good job, you have to have a good education.  If you can’t read, it makes life very difficult.” 

    The visit to the school was a Herbert whistlestop to announce that $3 million in ongoing grant money — from the grant “Read. Graduate. Succeed.” — would continue to be funneled into Utah schools to improve literacy rates. Midvalley Elementary was chosen for the event because of the skyrocketing literacy rates that have been attributed to the involvement of AmeriCorps volunteers at the school. 

    The event also was supported by KSL-TV. Anchor Deanie Wimmer read to students and engaged them in a game in which they had to guess the names of popular books after she’d scrambled the words of the title. 

    The appearance was the second of three Herbert made in Canyons District that week. At the first event on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Edwards Lifesciences in Draper, Herbert heralded the launch of a medical innovations emphasis where, on top of regular science courses, students, working with commercial drug and device makers, will learn manufacturing and bio-manufacturing principles. Students at Jordan High will be able to start the program next year. On Thursday, Sept. 29, he helped cut the ribbon at Cottonwood Heights' fete to cheer the opening of a new City Hall. Brighton Madrigals and band contributed their musical stylings

    Midvalley Principal Jeff Nalwalker points to student achievement data as proof. Assessments show that, after intensive support from the dedicated teachers and AmeriCorps volunteers who use the “Read Today” program, students increased their word-per-minute reading skills. 

    Nalwalker notes that reasonable growth for fourth-grade is 0.85 words-per-minute per week and reasonable growth for fifth-graders is 0.50 words-per-minute per week. During the last year, fourth-graders logged 1.58 words-per-minute growth per week, and fifth-graders logged 1.00 words-per-minute growth per week.

    “One of the best things about our state is that we know how to work together.  There is a spirit of collaboration,” Herbert said.  “This collaboration is one of the successes we see in our schools … You will be more effective leaders (in the future) if you are good readers.”