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.
Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00

New Elementary Schedule in 2014-2015

New in 2014-2015: Elementary schools are beginning a schedule that establishes consistent daily instructional time five days per week to better help each individual child achieve academic success.

The new elementary school schedule also redistributes time in the regular work day for teachers to plan individually and in teams. This allows teachers time to give special attention to each student's achievement and adjust their lessons to ensure that all students succeed.

The new schedule includes seven early-out Fridays  to give teachers time for professional development. The early-out days are: Sept. 26; Oct. 24; Dec. 5; Jan. 30; Feb. 20; March 27; and April 24.

View the The 2014-2015 teacher contract.

View the 2014-2015 elementary school bell schedule.
Jordan High is starting the year on a high note by serving as a host to "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band.

The band, known as one of the best in the world, will perform at Jordan High School, 95 E. Beetdigger Blvd., on Saturday, Sept. 20 as part of the group’s national concert tour.  The 7:30 p.m. event is free — but attendees must have tickets to enter the auditorium.

Jordan band teacher Brandon Cressall can be credited for bringing the band to the Canyons community. He reached out the musical organization, which is tasked by an Act of Congress to perform at the pleasure of the President of the United States, when he noticed that the band was planning to swing through Utah.  

He offered up Jordan’s 1,300-seat auditorium as a venue. The school’s auditorium and stage met the size requirements for a concert, he said, so the band’s leaders agreed to bring the band to town

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the community and it’s great for the state,” Cressall says.  “We don’t get a lot of world-renowned groups that come through … (This band) is on par with the New York Philharmonic.  It really is a great privilege to have them come here — and to do it for free.” 

Cressall says the band, when not performing for the president, travels the country, playing for the public. The stop at Jordan will be one of three in Utah during September. “They are really into being involved and being in contact” with public-education music programs, he said. 

Warning to those who plan to attend: security will be tight.  The high school has already been evaluated for security, no bags will be allowed into the auditorium the night of the event, and no video-recording or taping of any kind will be permitted.

“Once you’re in the group you are automatically an officer,” said Cressall.  “So we are looking at 110 high-ranking Marine Corps officers in the same place at the same time.”

Tickets can be obtained at Jordan High’s Main Office. But interested concertgoers can send the school a self-addressed stamped envelope in care of the U.S. Marine Band concert. Inside, please include your name and the number of tickets you’d like to reserve.  Only four tickets will be given per person.  If they run out of tickets, the envelope will be returned with a letter of regret.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014 00:00

Welcome Back to School 2014

Canyons District schools "rolled out the red carpet" for students on the first day of school Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 – in one case, with a hand from the Utah Jazz Bear.

Midvale Middle School students were greeted by thumping music, doughnuts, and confetti sprayed by the high-energy NBA mascot when they came to school. Students received autographs, high fives, and even a few dances with The Bear, who even paid a few visits to parent motorists at drop-off.

Meanwhile, students in elementary schools districtwide walked the red carpet, lined by "paparazzi" parents and teachers cheering for their up-and-coming college-ready stars. At Ridgecrest, students high-fived the school's Tiger mascot. At Willow Canyon, they cheered and shook pompons, and at East Sandy, they sported college-gear and walked with banners they made of some of their favorite universities.

Since its inaugural 2009-2010 academic year, Canyons schools have rolled out the red carpets to welcome students back to school. The events serve to provide a warm welcome for students and the community while underscoring the importance of school: It's a child's ticket to success and college- and career-readiness.

Canyons District enrolls nearly 34,000 students in 46 schools.

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