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Getting Involved

Board Meeting Summary, April 21, 2020

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

Distance-Learning Report

Canyons District recognizes the “new now” prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a period of adjustment for school communities. To the end of easing minds of students and parents, Canyons will put into place a modified grading structure for the final term of the school year. The plan, presented to the Canyons Board of Education by the District’s Academic Team, was designed so that no student would receiving a failing grade for a current class. The aim is to “do no harm” to students during this period of distance learning, School Performance Director Cindy Hanson told the Board of Education. The grade structure was built to reduce anxiety about academic standing and progress toward graduation, mitigate equity issues, and support students as they are becoming accustomed to a new way of learning. Under the plan, CSD elementary schools would not issue grades but parents would receive information about the progress of students; middle school students would receive A (100 to 85 percent), B (84 to 70 percent), Passing (69 to 45 percent) or No Grade grades; and high school students would receive A (100 to 85 percent), B (84 to 70 percent), Passing (69 to 45 percent) or Incomplete grades. Passing grades would give students credit and would not count against a GPA, and Incomplete or No Grade grades would not automatically convert to a failing grade. Board members expressed a desire for flexibility, and some advocated giving students the option of being given the grade they had earned at the time of the dismissal. The grading structure was proposed as the result of a decision by state government and education officials to extend the “soft closure” of Utah schools until the end of the school year. It’s the latest in a series of steps taken by CSD to support students, teachers and parents as schools pivoted to online learning, Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward said. In the first two weeks of the dismissal, a “soft freeze” was placed on grades until the end of third quarter on Friday, March 27. During that time, students were not penalized if they did not engage in learning opportunities – but they could complete missing assignments to improve their scores and grades. The next two steps, taken simultaneously, included ensuring teachers had the time and training to move materials online, and getting 10,000 Chromebooks to the children who do not have access to a device at home. On Monday, March 30, students were encouraged to review lessons in digital literacy, etiquette, and citizenship on the ISD-created Parent Connections portal. On Tuesday, March 31, the start of a new quarter, new material was introduced to students via Canvas and video conferencing systems. Instruction continues every school day, Dr. Roderick-Landward said, and schools are finding that students are mostly engaging in core classes. As always, when schools open in the fall, Canyons educators will assess students for any gaps in their learning and provide the supports necessary to increase students learning towards grade level benchmarks. Reports indicate that 95 percent of CSD students have logged into Canvas, the common-learning management system used by CSD educators, at least one time since March 31. An estimated 60 percent of students are participating regularly in distance learning, according to reports.

Year-End Events

The Board of Education asked the Administration to survey the Class of 2020 and their parents on their preferences for graduation rites. The traditional ceremonies cannot be held because of restrictions on mass gatherings due to COVID-19. In separate surveys, students and parents will be asked to choose among several options. The ideas include a “drive inn” option during which graduates would attend a ceremony, albeit in their cars, and listen to speakers via a transmission to their vehicle radios. The seniors would then drive by the graduation stage one by one, get out of their cars to receive their diplomas and pose for a photograph, and then drive away. The second option is to hold virtual ceremonies. The third option is to postpone until mass-gathering restrictions are lifted by state government and health officials. Students and parents also will be given the opportunity to respond to an open-ended question about the kind of rites they would prefer. The Board also approved proposals to announce the Teacher of the Year during the May 19 Board of Education meeting, the presentation of gift-baskets to retirees instead of the annual banquet, and possibly holding a fall opening of the Performing Arts Center at Alta High with a student performances and a silent auction that would benefit the Canyons Education Foundation, which was forced to cancel its Spring Gala this month.

Administrative Appointments

The Canyons Board of Education and Administration are pleased announce the following administrative appointments: 

  • Deidre Walbeck, currently an Assistant Principal at Copperview Elementary, will become Principal at Oakdale Elementary. She will replace Lori Jones, who is retiring.
  • Carolee Mackay, an Achievement Coach at Sandy Elementary, will become Assistant Principal at Copperview Elementary.
  • Eric Gardner, an Assistant Principal at Mount Jordan Middle, will become Principal of Bella Vista Elementary. He will replace Sandra Dahl-Houlihan, who is retiring.
  • Crystal Conners, an Achievement Coach at Jordan High, will become Assistant Principal at Mount Jordan Middle.
  • Julie Winfree, currently Principal at Ridgecrest Elementary, will become the Principal at the new White City-area school for the Bell View and Edgemont school communities. A new Ridgecrest principal will be named at a later date.

Winfree will serve as the principal at Ridgecrest and the new White City-area school while it is being built. She will be involved in the design and construction of that school, but will continue to oversee Ridgecrest Elementary until the new campus is completed. All other appointments are effective for the 2020-2021 school year.

Midvale Middle Proposal

The Board of Education approved a request by Midvale Middle for $231,250 in additional funding to reduce the school’s class sizes and provide after-school programing three days a week.Midvale Middle Principal Mindy Robison told the Board she would use the money on four additional full-time equivalent employees to provide interventions, especially in mathematics. In response to current student achievement data – 29 percent are making expected growth on the Math Inventory –two additional math teachers, for sixth and seventh grades, and two additional teachers for Midvale’s English language learners would be hired. The afterschool programming would provide academic interventions, social-emotional lessons, and enrichment activities, she said. Robison said the program’s effectiveness would be ascertained by monitoring the number of office discipline referrals, Math and Reading Inventory growth scores, pre- and post-surveys of students, and attendance numbers. Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe thanked Robison for preparing the improvement plan for the school.

Budget Information

The proposed budget for the 2020-2021 school year, as presented by Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, will include funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Wilcox told the Board of Education that CSD will receive $2.42 million for activities authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Every Student Succeeds Act, Adult Education, and the McKinney-Vento Act. Among other items, the money can be used to provide mental-health services, technology, and supplies to clean the school. Funds also can address the so-called “COVID-19 slide” in student achievement as a result of the dismissal of Utah public schools since March 13. The proposed budget, which was presented in a first reading, also includes funds for the major renovation of Alta High, the reconstruction of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, and the rebuild of Midvalley Elementary. Those projects are funded with proceeds from a voter-approved bond. Wilcox noted that CSD is two payments short of retiring bond debt from the old Jordan District that CSD is required by law to pay. The proposed budget also has been built with projected funding that was allocated during the General Session of the Utah Legislature, including a 6 percent increase to the Weighted Pupil Unit. But Wilcox told the Board that state funding could change given the direction of the economy as a result of the pandemic. In addition, Wilcox said it’s the intention of the District to provide refunds of fees for activities or classes that did not occur as a result of the “soft closure” of school to stem the spread of COVID-19. This includes tuition for Canyons District preschool and Supplemental Hours of Instruction for Kindergarten programs.

New Construction Update

The Board of Education voted to consolidate the Bell View and Edgemont communities to be housed in a new 684-student-capacity school to be constructed on the Edgemont campus. The District has met with the Sandy City and White City mayors to discuss the proposal, advertised the plans in the Valley Journals, posted signs at both schools, and presented information on school websites, said Business Administrator Leon Wilcox. Work on the new school is scheduled to start in 2021 and be done in time for fall 2022. Canyons also is moving forward with plans to rebuild Peruvian Park Elementary in 2021. In addition, the Board agreed to house Edgemont and Peruvian Park school communities at the Crescent View building for the 2021-2022 school year.

Patron Comments

Patron Matt Sullivan commented on graduation rites for the Class of 2020.

Parent Tona Davenport suggested the District survey student about what kind of graduation ceremony they would like to have. She also urged a June date for commencement rites.

Amanda Means, a senior at Hillcrest High, asked the Board to consider a late summer graduation ceremony.

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes of the March 17, 2020 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; minutes from the April 14, 2020 meeting of the Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; March financial reports; bell schedules for the 2020-2021 academic year; and administrative appointments.  A request by the Hillcrest football team to travel to an out-of-state camp was approved contingent on the lifting of government restrictions on interstate travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boundary Alterations

Draper Elementary will be the assigned school for elementary-age students who live in a new apartment complex at Highland Drive and Traverse Ridge. The Board decided to include the complex in the Draper boundaries.

LAND Trust and TSSP Plans

Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards and School Performance Director Alice Peck provided information about the LAND Trust and TSSP Plans. The Board must approve the plans by May 5 to meet state deadlines.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Briscoe updated the Board on the various surveys that are being sent to employees and the CSD community.

Mr. Wilcox thanked Nutrition Services workers for the 6,600 meals provided to the community every weekday. He also noted the 10,000 Chromebooks that were provided to students by Information Technology.

Board Member Reports

Mrs. Amber Shill thanked all the employees for their efforts during the “soft closure” of schools.

Mr. Steve Wrigley expressed appreciation for employees who have gone the extra mile to help the district operate during the COVID-19 dismissal.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold echoed other Board members in thanking faculty, staff and administrators for their hard work during this unprecedented time.

Mr. Mont Millerberg, Mrs. Amanda Oaks, and Mr. Chad Iverson declined to present remarks. 

President Tingey remarked that all members of the community have “stepped up” to help others and stay engaged in learning during the dismissal.

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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