Every public school in Utah has a School Community Counci formed of parents and employees. Council members are responsible for developing school improvement plans, guided by test scores and with funding from the School LAND Trust Plan.

SCC’s make decisions that matter. As individual members become familiar with their roles and responsibilities, as outlined by state legislation and Canyons District policy, they are empowered to significantly contribute to the improvement and success of their neighborhood school. The best way to make the most out of the experience—in addition to regular attendance at meetings— is through training.

Canyons District’s Community Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards and Board of Education Vice President Nancy Tingey have developed a training program for SCC members that is being used a model throughout Utah. All trainings are held in the Professional Development Center at CSD’s east administration building, 9361 S. 300 East, Sandy. Here's a list of dates:

  • Sept. 21: SCC101 at 5:30 p.m., and SCC Training at 6:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 28, SCC101 at 9 a.m., and SCC training at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
  • Oct. 6, SCC Training at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. 
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking the corresponding agenda items.

Report: School Grading and SAGE Scores


A majority of Canyons schools, 71 percent, received an A or B this year under Utah’s school grading system, even with last-minute changes to the way the grades were calculated. Had the grading scale not been redrawn, 81 percent of Canyons’ schools would have received a B or higher — and the number of schools to receive an A would have doubled from 2015 to 2016. The recalculation affected 43 percent of CSD’s schools. Teachers and school administrators should be proud of their performance this year, said Dr. Hal Sanderson, Director of Research and Assessment. The grades fail to reflect that most schools’ test scores have risen in English language arts, math and science. So, even if a school’s test scores rose, its grade may have dropped because the target changed. No matter where one chooses to draw the line for an A or B, Canyons District’s achievement is headed in the right direction. By law, if too many (two-thirds) of Utah schools earn an A or B, the Utah State Office of Education must raise by 5 percentage points the cut-off score required for each letter grade. Utah’s school grading system was established by the Legislature, and the first grades to be published were for the 2012-13 school year. Since then, CSD schools have significantly improved, largely driven by a steady rise in SAGE scores. The percentage of CSD students who test as proficient in English, math and science exceeds the state average. That’s true across the board for elementary, middle and high school students. CSD students also outperform their peers on the ACT college entrance exam, and have higher pass rates on Advanced Placement exams for early college credit. Sanderson also talked about a rise in the number of students who opt out of taking SAGE, from 0.8 percent in 2014 to 3.9 percent in 2016. This is below the state average of 5 percent, but it’s a growing concern because it undermines the credibility of SAGE results.
 
Midvale Middle Years Programme Update

The Board of Education was presented with an update on Midvale Middle’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme. Principal Wendy Dau told the Board the initiative positively impacts both Midvale’s boundary students and the quarter of the student body that attends the school as part of the Supporting Advanced Learners Toward Achievement (SALTA) magnet program. MYP aids the school as they address the socio-economic and academic challenges faced by many students  at the school. For example, 67 percent of enrolled students qualify for free- or reduced-price lunches under the poverty index, and 23 percent who are English Language Learners. Dau said MYP addresses the needs of all students, regardless of their current achievement level or scholastic challenge. Every student, not just those in SALTA, participates and benefits from the academic rigor that is required of a MYP school. The program also provides a global, real-world connection for all students, and a regular opportunity to reflect on their achievement, Dau said. Board member Nancy Tingey said that, through the emphasis on the learner profile, and the extra help given to students to aid them in their pursuit of success, Midvale is building a culture of high expectations for all students. 

Middle School Schedule Committee

Canyons School Performance Director Mike Sirois said the Middle School Schedule Committee has decided on four principles that will guide the development of a new schedule. The new schedule, he said, must promote teamwork and collaboration; maximize quality instructional time; provide time for all students to participate in electives; and have built-in intervention and remediation. What the committee has found, Sirois told the Board, is that it will be a challenge to find one schedule that will meet the various and unique instructional and social needs of all CSD middle schools. Sirois said a proposed schedule could be presented to the Board, as well as faculties and School Community Councils, by late fall. 

Volunteers in CSD Schools

The total number of volunteer hours in CSD schools for the 2015-2016 school year reached 266,275, Volunteer and Partnerships Coordinator Brittani Bailey told the Board. Calculated at a hourly rate of $23.92 an hour, volunteers contributed $6.3 million in work to the District during the academic year. In all, 11,672 community members registered to volunteer in CSD schools. PTA volunteers contributed 124,756 of those hours, said Region 17 PTA Director Betty Shaw. The PTA’s contribution, if calculated in dollar amounts, hit $2.9 million. Shaw and PTA Region 17 Associate Director Tonya Rhodes presented a giant check to the Board and Administration. 

Concurrent Enrollment Program Update

Concurrent enrollment courses do more than give Canyons high school students a jump on college. They help students gain confidence by exposing them to the rigors of college work while still in the familiar setting of high school. They enable students to earn college credit for a fraction of what they would pay in tuition. And they expose students to college admissions, enrollment and registration processes, Career and Technical Education Director Janet Goble told the Board. Each of CSD’s traditional high schools offers concurrent enrollment courses — a total of 106 districtwide. CSD’s high school students together earned nearly 1,000 college credits last year for a combined savings of $1.6 million in college tuition. Some examples of courses offered include, astronomy, college algebra and trigonometry. Also coming soon to Jordan High: a medical innovations emphasis where, on top of regular science courses, students, working with commercial drug and device makers, will learn manufacturing and biomanufacturing principles. The program will be rolled out on Sept. 27 at 9 a.m. at a special event held at Draper-based Edwards Lifesciences. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is scheduled to attend.

Hiring Update

Canyons District recruiters spent more than a month on the road this summer to find high-quality educators to fill Canyons classrooms, working against the clock and a nationwide teacher shortage. The district filled 277 teacher openings with 78 of the new hires coming from outside Utah, said Human Resources Director Steve Dimond. Of those 277 hires, 15 percent were hired under some Alternative Route to Licensure program—compared to 10 percent the year prior. The percentage varies from year to year across different subject areas, Dimond said. To date, Canyons has not hired teachers through Utah’s new Alternative Path to Teaching allowance. Human Resources’ preference is to hire university-trained educators, Dimond says. The reality, however, is that fewer college students are enrolling in educator-training programs, which in the future could leave the district and state unable to meet staffing needs, he added.

Board’s Vision, Mission Statements

The Board of Education continued its discussion regarding proposed Vision and Mission Statements for Canyons District. The Board also reviewed proposed core value and belief statements, and quantifiable indicators of growth based on CSD’s basic tenets of student achievement, innovation, community engagement and customer service. The subcommittee developing the statements will meet again in the coming week. 

Posting of the Colors, Reverence

The colors were posted by Scout Troop 3715, made up of students from Silver Mesa Elementary. Principal Julie Fielding updated the Board on the progress of the school, home to an English-Spanish Dual Language Immersion Program. Upgrades at the school also recently have been completed. Fielding said the PTA and SCC contribute to the positive environment at Silver Mesa. In addition, the school’s SAGE scores are on the rise in English Language Arts, math and science.

Proposed SALTA Testing Fees

A fee proposal for SALTA testing was reviewed by the Board. Canyons' Instructional Supports Department proposes charging non-CSD-enrolled students $50 to take the qualifying test for the advanced-learner program. The department also proposes assessing a $25 fee for repeat test-takers. The fee changes were proposed to make the testing process more efficient and save money for other classroom uses. Currently, CSD students can take the test once for free, and non-CSD-enrolled students pay $35. The cost to proctor the test is $90 per student. The Board, seeking the boost the District’s overall enrollment to capture more Weighted Pupil Unit, suggested the administration provide reimbursements to test-takers who were assessed a fee — but only if they enroll in CSD schools after gaining entrance to SALTA. The fee proposal will be brought back to the Board for another reading.

Policy Updates

Under a suspension of the rules, the Board unanimously approved a proposal to remove obsolete and outdated policies. The Board also considered for a second time several policy updates to comply with current employment practices and changes in state policy. These changes will receive a final reading and vote by the Board at its next meeting. CSD Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen discussed options for complying with a new Salt Lake County Health Department rule, which requires school-based employees to produce proof of immunization in the event of a disease outbreak or risk being excluded from school. The Board weighed a policy that would recommend that employees take the necessary steps to collect and store their immunization records. Recognizing that obtaining documentation can be difficult, if not impossible for employees who were immunized many years ago, the Board asked how much it would cost CSD to re-immunize employees who are covered by CSD’s health insurance plan. Assuming every fully-benefitted employee needed to get re-immunized, the cost could exceed $1 million, said Christensen. In the event that an employee is excluded from school, under the proposed policy, they would not be paid. But employees would still be able to draw on any available vacation and sick leave, and normal limits on personal leave would not apply.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the consent agenda, which included the minutes from the meeting of the Board of Education on Sept. 6, 2016; a list of new hires and the termination report; purchasing bids; proposed student overnight travel; and August financial reports. 

Patron Comment 

Tracy Bennett introduced herself as a candidate for District 7 of the Canyons Board of Education. 

Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, thanked Board members for their service and willingness over the years to collaborate with Utah’s legislature. He also updated the Board on progress with a 10-year public education improvement plan being drafted by a Legislative committee, and he invited the Board to give input prior to the plan’s debut in two months.

Kathleen Riebe, candidate for the District 10 seat on the Utah State Board of Education, invited Canyons patrons to a 6:30 p.m. debate Wednesday, Sept. 28 at Channing Hall, 13515 S. 150 East, Draper. 

Recognitions

Eleven CSD students who were named semi-finalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship competition were honored by the Board. 

Board, Administration Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe lauded Dr. Hal Sanderson for his presentation on student achievement. He also commended the Board for reviewing the assessment data and asking insightful questions about the numbers. Dr. Briscoe also thanked the Canyons Education Foundation staff for planning and executing the golf tournament on Monday. The event was held to raise money for student scholarships and classroom-project grants for teachers. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox commended the Instructional Supports Department for receiving a $265,000 grant from STEM Action Center. He also mentioned that Education Technology Director Dr. Darren Draper is actively enhancing our technology plan. CSD also will receive about $100,000 more in Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts money, he said.  He mentioned several facilities located within the District that are up for ZAP funding. 

Mr. Robert Green said he is glad the District is forward-thinking and willing to examine practices in order to streamline and improve. He commended employees and patrons for their hard work.

Mrs. Amber Shill commented on the student assessment data, expressing appreciation there’s a plan to address achievement levels. 

Mrs. Nancy Tingey thanked Dr. Sanderson for his presentation on student achievement in Canyons District. She is pleased the District is addressing the reasons for any stagnant or declining scores. Tingey also mentioned the annual School Community Council training, which begins this week, and the Foundation’s successful golf tournament. She also congratulated Cottonwood Heights on the new City Hall. 

Mr. Steve Wrigley thanked Dr. Sanderson for his report. He also mentioned the progress on the Board’s Mission and Vision Statement. He expressed appreciation for Tingey’s involvement in state organizations.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold thanked the teachers who are preparing students for the workplace.  She also urged caution when examining test data, including SAGE, considering many students do not “test well.” 

Mr. Chad Iverson said he’s cheered CSD teams at cross-country meets and soccer games.  He said he also appreciates the volunteers in the WatchDOGS program.  He thanked his campaign opponent, Tracy Bennett, for attending the meeting and voicing her opinion.  He spoke against the proposal to allow student-athletes to transfer with impunity.  Mr. Iverson said he appreciates the fact the state school board is elected by popular vote. He also thanked Dr. Sanderson for his presentation.

President Sherril Taylor looks forward to the renovation of Indian Hills Middle. He said the community is excited for the project. He thanked the Board for their efforts to improve student achievement, innovation, customer service and community engagement. He also thanked Sandy Police for providing security at the Board meeting and in the community.
Here’s the thing about school absenteeism: It’s a growing problem, and almost always a symptom of something else. It could be illness, a transportation problem—the family car broke down—or a student who is tired from working nights babysitting siblings or tending the family restaurant.

“Sometimes, missed school days just sneak up on a family; a snow day here, and a sick day there, can add up fast,” says Canyons District’s truancy specialist Suzanne Ren. “There are as many reasons for absenteeism as there are students who struggle getting to school.” But from where Ren sits, that gives her an advantage because, she says, “it means the universe of possible solutions is limited only by our imagination.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert recently declared September, “School Attendance Awareness Month,” signaling a renewed focus on combatting chronic absenteeism. In Utah, one in seven students is chronically absent, defined as missing at least 10 percent—or 18 days—of school for any reason. These students on average have lower test scores, grades and graduation rates. Those who are chronically absent in grades 8-12 are seven times more likely to drop out of high school.

“Chronic absenteeism is one of our most urgent problems, but we are seeing encouraging strategies and solutions in schools throughout Utah. Creating a schoolwide culture of good attendance, using data, and personalizing outreach and support will help increase attendance rates and improve individual student outcomes,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson in a news release.

Canyons District has many tools at is disposal, but the common denominator is collaboration, or schools communicating with students and families to understand the source of attendance problems and find mutually workable solutions. “It is a continual work in progress. We involve the student and parents, counselors, administrators, and sometimes the Juvenile Court System. It truly does take a village to provide all the necessary resources and supports for students to be successful,” Ren says.

Research does show it’s best to intervene early. “The earlier we can catch students, the sooner we can provide supportive interventions,” explains Canyons’ Student Support Services Director Tamra Baker. To help spot at-risk students, Baker’s team worked with Canyons’ Information Technology Department to build an Early Warning Signs data system capable of flagging for follow-up those students who show sudden swings in behavior, stagnant academic achievement, or a spike in absenteeism. Schools reach out personally to families, sometimes meeting with them in their homes. Often, putting a parent on notice is all it takes to get a student back on track, Baker says.

In some cases, parents need to be convinced of the importance of regular attendance. Eighteen missed school days translates to two a month, which may not seem like much. But that’s all it takes for a student to fall behind his or her peers. “By the time students reach middle school, some have fallen so far behind that they’ve lost hope. Everything we do is try to put hope back into the educational experience for them,” Baker says.

That guiding philosophy is what drove Canyons to undertake an experimental truancy court mediation program with 3rd District Juvenile Court. Students in middle school and the ninth and tenth grades who are marked as chronically absent or truant, and yet have scant criminal or behavioral-issues on record, are invited to enter into mediation before the case is sent to juvenile court—the aim being to correct the students’ path before it leads to additional and more complex legal entanglements. “We try to take away the hammer approach,” said Bob Curfew, a program coordinator with the court. “We want it to be non-adversarial.”
The mediations are held at the students’ school; the student, parent, and school personnel are allowed to share their thoughts about the root of the problem; and then a mediator meets with both sides to find a workable solution. The parties talk about whether a class-schedule change is needed or if a switch in teachers would help the student feel more apt to attend. “Sometimes parents are frustrated because they’ve tried everything and nothing has succeeded,” Baker says.

When both parties agree on a solution, a written Memorandum of Understanding is produced and a copy is given to both parties. The school follows the progress of the student to ensure compliance with the agreement. Failure to follow-through results in a court referral and threat of detention.

But it rarely comes to that. In the pilot year of 2014-15, CSD completed 15 mediations with only one resulting in a court referral. In 2015-16, CSD completed more than 30 mediations with a 93 percent success rate. This compares to the 30-40 percent success rate for traditional truancy court, says Baker. “To have such a high success rate is reason enough to continue this program. But it also spares administrators, families and the time-starved court system from a prolonged discovery process and the scheduling of court dates.”

Often, the path of least resistance is the path of hope, explains Ren. “When I have a student who is close to being court-involved, I will always tell them, ‘There are not many things in life that are fee. Your public education is one of them. And there are even fewer things in life that can’t be taken from you. Your education can never ever be taken from you.’”
Eleven students from four of Canyons District's traditional comprehensive high schools have been named semi-finalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship program.

They join about 16,000 others who this week advanced in the prestigious competition to vie for 7,500 scholarships worth $33 million.

Finalists are chosen from 1.6 million students at more than 22,000 high schools. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors. The number is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. The students and their schools are:  

CORNER CANYON
Eric Jackson

BRIGHTON
Emily A. Hyde

JORDAN
Boyd H Christiansen
Brian C. Johnson
Peter C. Maughan

HILLCREST
Alexandra Carlile
Soyoung Jeon
Joshua Katzenbach
Derek C. Miles
Abigail A. Olson
Chandler Wakefield
Thursday, 15 September 2016 12:58

School Grades: CSD Celebrates Academic Gains

A majority of Canyons District schools, 71 percent, received an A or B this year under Utah’s school grading system, even with last-minute changes to the way the grades were calculated.

Had the grading scale not been redrawn, 81 percent of Canyons’ schools would have received a B or higher—and the number of schools to receive an A would have doubled from 2015 to 2016. The recalculation affected 43 percent of CSD’s schools.

Teachers and school administrators should be proud of their performance this year, said Hal Sanderson, Ph.D., Director of Research and Assessment. “The grades fail to reflect that most schools’ test scores have risen in English language arts, math and science. So, even if a school’s test scores rose, its grade may have dropped because the target changed. No matter where one chooses to draw the line for an A or B, Canyons District’s achievement is headed in the right direction.”

By law, when two-thirds of Utah schools earn an A or B, the Utah State Office of Education must raise by 5 percentage points the cut-off score required for each letter grade. Each school’s grade, which can be found here, is primarily based on year-end test scores. Schools are awarded points for students who meet grade-level benchmarks and for students who show substantial growth. Additionally factoring into high school grades are graduation rates and ACT scores.

Utah’s school grading system was established by the Legislature, and the first grades to be published were for the 2012-13 school year. Since then, CSD schools have significantly improved, largely driven by a steady rise in SAGE scores, says Sanderson, who attributes the improvement to the implementation of team teaching methods at middle schools and evidenced-based interventions for struggling students.

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Within the Canyons School District community, Gretchen Murray needs no introduction. Her name is already associated with excellence in education, which is why she was nominated for Teacher of the Year by her peers and the parents of her Peruvian Park Elementary students.

Now the rest of Utah is getting to know the devoted fourth grade teacher. After winning the District Teacher of the Year title, Murray on Friday was named a runner-up to Utah's Teacher of the Year.  

The announcement was made at a banquet featuring remarks by Gov. Gary Herbert and Deputy State Superintendent of Public Instruction Rich K. Nye. As second runner-up, Murray received a check for $3,000 among other prizes. The state title went to Valerie Gates of West High. Jody Tolley, an American Sign Language teacher at Skyline High, took second.



Gretchen Murray jokes that she was an explosives expert before deciding to become a teacher. She grew up in a family of educators but fell into a marketing career at a commercial explosives company — a job that fed her wallet, but not her soul.

Seeing her dissatisfaction, Murray’s aunt invited her to drop by her classroom one afternoon.  It was love at first sight. Happily — for the many students at Peruvian Park Elementary she’s influenced — Murray quit her job, enrolled in a master’s of education program, and never looked back. 

The first day of school in Murray’s classroom starts in a very specific place: the floor. That is where the Peruvian Park Elementary teacher sits in a circle with her students and allows each child to talk about a time when someone hurt their feelings. For every harsh word uttered, students pound a nail into blocks of wood. Then, as the circle is repeated with positive words and the nails are removed, Murray points out that a hole still remains. “We don’t make holes in our class,” she tells her students. 

In Murray’s class, integrity, responsibility and commitment are the norm. Her students consistently make significant progress, as 86 percent of the class scored in the 90th percentile of the M-COMP evaluation this winter, compared to 27 percent in the fall. 

Earlier this year, Murray was diagnosed with breast cancer for which she received chemotherapy. She is now cancer-free. But taking a break from teaching wasn’t on the agenda for this devoted educator who says her two young children and her students are what keep her going. Each day, even on the tough ones, she starts her SALTA class with a stirring injunction to make the most of every moment, as her students learn to solve multi-faceted problems, think critically and learn self-mastery. 

“One of the eight keys of excellence in my classroom is ‘This is it.’ And what that means is that this moment is the only moment we can control in our life,” she says. “We can’t change the past and we can’t control the future.  We can be in the present. This is it. This is the only one we get. So let’s have some fun with it, even when it is hard.”



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Answer: Yes. Children will not go hungry in Canyons District schools. Regardless of their ability to pay, children will receive food. Prices are reasonable for a meal in CSD cafeterias. The cost of breakfast is 90 cents for elementary school students and $1.10 for middle and high school students. The cost of a lunchtime meals is $1.75 at elementaries and $2 at middle schools and high schools, although there are ala carte menu items that students can select if they don’t want a full meal. Also, we have in-class breakfast programs at Midvale, Sandy, Copperview, and East Midale elementary schools. At those schools, students receive breakfast at their desks before learning starts for the day. Parents do not have to apply for this service; it’s provided free of charge to all enrolled students. However, parents can apply to qualify for free- or reduced-priced lunches either online or at their child’s school. An answer to an online application submitted at www.schoollunchapp.com will be returned in 24 hours. Answers to hard-copy applications that are obtained at schools can take up to 10 days to receive. If you are earning at or below Income Eligibility Guidelines, we encourage you to fill out an application. The school will process your application and issue an eligibility determination. If you are receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, your child automatically qualifies for free school meals.
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking the corresponding agenda items.

CSD's Efforts to Curb Truancy

To mark the outset of School Attendance Awareness Month, Student Support Services Director Tamra Baker presented information to the Board of Education on Canyons District’s innovative approach to reducing chronic absenteeism and truancy rates. Baker was joined by representatives from 3rd District Court, which is working with the CSD on the collaborative effort to curtail the number of cases referred to juvenile court.  In Utah, one in seven students is chronically absent, defined as missing at least 10 percent of school for any reason. Students who are chronically absent on average have lower test scores, grades, and graduation rates. Those who are chronically absent in grades 8-12 are seven times more likely to drop out of high school. Under the model being followed by CSD, students who are marked as chronically absent or truant, and yet have a scant criminal or behavioral-issues record, are asked to enter into mediation before the case is sent to juvenile court. The aim: to correct the students’ path before it leads to additional and more complex legal entanglements. “We try to take away the hammer approach,” said Bob Curfew, a program coordinator with the court.  “We want it to be non-adversarial.”  The mediations are held at the students’ school; the student, parent, and school personnel are allowed to share their thoughts about the root of the problem; and then a mediator meets with both sides to find a workable solution. The parties talk about whether a class-schedule change is needed or if a switch in teachers would help the student feel more apt to attend. When both parties agree on a solution, a written Memorandum of Understanding is produced and a copy is given to both parties. The school follows the progress of the student and compliance with the agreement. In 2014-2015, the pilot year, CSD completed about 15 mediations in middle schools. Only one was referred to court as the result of a failed agreement.  Last year, CSD completed more than 30 mediations. Two of those resulted in a court referral because the agreement was not followed.

SALTA Testing Fee Proposal

The Board considered a new fee proposal for SALTA testing. Canyons offers testing to determine eligibility for the District’s magnet program for advanced learners, called SALTA (Supporting Advanced Learners Toward Achievement). About 550 students are tested annually with half of them qualifying for the program. Of those, 20 percent decline to enroll. Testing is now free for students who are enrolled in Canyons District. Non-CSD-enrolled students pay $35, which doesn’t cover the $90 per student cost of providing the test. To make testing more efficient and save money for other classroom uses, Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward proposes charging a $25 fee for repeat testers and raising the fee for non-CSD test-takers to $50. There would continue to be no fee for CSD-enrolled students. These fees are in line with those charged by other school districts throughout Utah, explained Roderick-Landward. Some districts do not charge, but they screen students for eligibility for the testing. The Board asked for more financial details before reconsidering the proposal at its next meeting.

Advanced and Honors Diplomas Information

Canyons is unique in offering differentiated high school diplomas— Standard, Advanced and Honors Diplomas—which were adopted to create pathways of rigorous coursework to better prepare students for college and careers. Last year, 71 percent of CSD graduates qualified for Advanced or Honors diplomas by completing more rigorous coursework, said Instructional Supports Director Dr.  Amber Roderick-Landward. The degree of difficulty associated with each of the diplomas has increased since the inception of the diplomas in 2011. Most recently, in 2014, the Board of Education adopted further enhancements, including requiring a minimum GPA for Advanced and Honors Diplomas; adding the option for students to obtain a seal of bi-literacy; and updating English Language Arts requirements. These changes were implemented last year, except for the GPA threshold, which is being communicated to students in the 2017 course catalogue, said Roderick-Landward.

Open and Public Meeting Act Presentation and Training 

Canyons District’s General Counsel Dan Harper presented required training to the Board of Education about Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act, pursuant to UCA 52-4-104. The presentation included information about legal definitions of a public meeting; the required public notice of any meeting of the elected Board of Education; what kind of minutes must be taken during an official meeting of the Board; and the reasons the Board can legally close a meeting to the public.

School Community Council Presentation and Training

Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards spoke to the Board about the District’s efforts to comply with the laws governing School Community Councils. The Board is responsible for training the community on SCC roles and responsibilities; assure legal compliance and meet established deadlines; encourage engagement with SCC members; and disperse funds for the approved uses.  The Board also must approve the SCC-created school plans, which should be data-driven, targeted approaches to meeting school goals and increasing student achievement.  The presentation satisfied a state requirement for Board training on SCC roles and responsibilities.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the consent agenda, which included the minutes from the Aug. 16, 2016 meeting of the Board of Education; termination and hiring reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel requests; and acceptance of a donation by Sandy City for the Canyons Technical Education Center’s construction program.

Pledge of Allegiance, Reverence

Scout Troop 430 of the Greater Salt Lake Council presented the colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Union Principal Kelly Tauteoli presented the reverence and updated the Board on Union students’ progress on their assessed reading scores. One notable piece of data: Last year, educators at Union were able to help decrease the number of students testing at below basic in reading from 21 to 12 percent. Union also is home to a Dual-Language Immersion Program in Spanish and has a thriving musical-theater program. Students this year plan to produce “Music Man” and “James and Giant Peach.” Union also is a STEM-designated school, one of only three in Utah.

Policy Updates

The Board considered proposals for removing obsolete and outdated policies, and weighed several policy updates to comply with current employment practices and changes in state policy. CSD Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen also updated the Board on a new Salt Lake County Health Department rule, which requires school-based employees to produce proof of immunization in the event of a disease outbreak.

Recognizing that schools can be vectors for the spread of vaccine preventable diseases, the Board of Health adopted the rule in June as a means to safeguard children, school employees and the communities they serve. The rule leaves compliance up to individual employees, and does not require school districts to collect or store employee vaccine records. For some employees, proof of immunity may be used in lieu of vaccine records. Employees may also request religious, medical or personal exemptions from Utah’s vaccination requirements. But during an outbreak, exempt employees will be excluded from school for as long as the Health Department deems necessary. The Board weighed a policy change to recommend that employees take the necessary steps to collect and store their immunization records. Christensen said CSD is still surveying other districts to determine whether employees who are excluded from school because they can’t provide proof of immunization would be placed on paid or unpaid leave. Even on unpaid leave, employees would still be able to draw on any available vacation and sick leave, he said. They may also be eligible to draw on CSD’s sick bank, said Christensen.

Board Mission and Vision Update

A Board subcommittee updated the full Board on progress with the creation of a mission, vision and goals statement for CSD. Board members took suggestions under advisement for discussion at a later date.

Patron Comment

Bell View Teacher and Canyons Education Association President Jen Buttars thanked the Board for the improvements to the school.  The upgrades, including the new parking lot, were done for the start of school and for this year’s 50th anniversary of the school.

Administration’s Report

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe deferred his comments because of time. Business Administrator Leon Wilcox thanked all employees for the work they did for the start of school. 

Board Member Reports

Mr. Chad Iverson, Mrs. Clareen Arnold and Mr. Robert Green deferred their comments because of the late hour. 

Mr. Wrigley reported on receiving positive reports about renovations at CTEC, especially the cosmetology-training area. He also said his son, who attends CTEC, is excited to participate in computer-science programs at the technical education center.

Mrs. Nancy Tingey commended CSD employees, parents, patrons and students for their efforts to have a successful return to school. Tingey also said she believes Back-to-School Nights are valuable in building a strong sense of community at a school. In addition, she mentioned the parcel that was donated by Sandy City to the District so CTEC students can learn to build a house, and thanked the city for its ongoing support of CSD students and school programs. 

Mrs. Amber Shill thanked all members of the CSD community for making the red-carpet welcomes possible for the students on the first day of school. She also reported on attending Butler Middle’s Back to School Night and a faculty breakfast at Brighton High.

Mr. Sherril Taylor said he recently recollected on what it takes to get the District up and running after the summer hiatus. He expressed thanks to the employees for their hard work and dedication, and urged the community not to take it for granted all that CSD employees, parents, volunteers and community partners do to make the District a success.  
Friday, 02 September 2016 21:48

I'll Be Ready! Kindergarten College-Ready Day

At Canyons District, it’s never too early to start thinking about college.

Capping the first week of kindergarten at CSD’s 29 elementary schools is a special celebration called, "College-Ready Day” where students receive cobalt wristbands bearing the message, “I will be college-ready … Class of 2029,” sign pledges and talk about dreams for their future.

The activity drives home the point even from students’ first moments at school, that it’s important to work hard every day to be ready for the challenges of college and careers. For all students, but especially those students who have never had a family member attend college, it plants a seed in their minds for what’s possible, Bell View Principal Chanci Loran told a KTVX reporter who covered the event.

If college is too abstract an idea for some kindergartners, most can say with enthusiasm what they want to be when they grow up. At Peruvian Park, faculty wore t-shirts from their alma mater. At Bell View students came dressed in costumes and uniforms representing the career of their choice.

There’s usually a policeman or fireman, or two, in the crowd at most schools. But every so often, a five-year-old surfaces with the unexpected. Draper Elementary is home to a budding forensic anthropologist and an aspiring Batman. “When I grow up, I want to be a Dad,” said one Draper student.

Whatever goals students have in mind for their future, it’s through education that they learn the skills, knowledge and work ethic to achieve them. College-readiness day is one reminder of an important step along the way.


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  • Canyons Distict is expanding its high-tech arsenal in the fight to keep children safe.

    Elementary schools are rolling out information to their communities about access to the SafeUT app and website, which is an immediate, direct link to licensed counselors at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute. Starting Wednesday, Aug. 31, all CSD elementary school communities will have access to SafeUT's services. 

    Canyons' secondary schools were among the first in Utah to roll out access to the service last year. The response was instantly positive, and students across the District were using it a a resource to receive real-time and confidential responses from a highy trained clinician. 

    The app and website, developed as part of a partnership between UNI and the Utah State Office of Education with funds allocated by the Utah Legislature, serves as confidential tip line about such safety issues as suicide, bullying and threats of violence.

    "Twenty-four/seven,whether it's summer break, whether it's over Winter Recess, on the weekends, (students) can immediately get access to somebody that can help them," Tamra Baker, Director of Canyons District's Student Support Services, told ABC4 during a recent interview about the roll-out across the District.

    Multiple languages are available. This intervention and emotional support also provides follow-up and responses through user-password protection. Users can submit a tip with a picture and/or video, and a user can communicate online or call by phone.

    For the community's ease, here are links to places students and parents can dowload the app: Click here for Google Play and click here to find the app in iTunes. 

    Utah ranks 5th in the nation for suicide deaths among 10- to 17-year-olds, and bullying is a risk factor, according to the Utah Suicide Prevention Coaltion. Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. In honor of Suicide Awareness Week, September 5-11, here are some tips for talking about bullying courtesy of stopbullying.gov.