New Board Members Take Oath of Office
Canyons ushered in a new era of leadership with an Oath of Office ceremony and a packed-with-supporters reception for the newly seated Canyons Board of Education. It was an electric night for new Board members Clareen Arnold, who will represent the Sandy communities in District 4, and Amber Shill, who will serve the Cottonwood Heights neighborhoods in District 2. Re-elected Board members Sherril H. Taylor, who has represented Sandy and Draper’s District 6 since Canyons’ founding in 2009, and Steve Wrigley, the representative in District 5, which covers White City and parts of Sandy, also were sworn into office in a ceremony conducted by Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen. The four Board members were applauded by dozens of family, friends and supporters attending the event. They join Robert Green, Chad Iverson, and Nancy Tingey on the fourth Board elected in the District’s history, is the first new Board since the appointment of new Superintendent Jim Briscoe in April 2014.
Shill, who has children in Canyons schools and has spent countless hours as a classroom volunteer as well as a School Community Council leader, publicly thanked supporters, and pledged to focus on ensuring excellent schools for CSD families, maintain open lines of communication with patrons, employees and students, and actively invite community participation in the governance process. Shill said she “looks forward to the challenges ahead.”
Arnold expressed appreciation for the support she received along the campaign trail. “It was so much fun meeting and talking to so many people,” she said. “Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve you on the Canyons Board of Education.” The veteran educator said she draws inspiration from her experience as a student who initially struggled with literacy and basic mathematical concepts, overcame challenges, and set her sights on becoming an educator dedicated to helping all students. She said she will strive to “ensure educational quality for all children, to be a voice for the educators, and to be an advocate for every one of you.”
Wrigley thanked his wife and family for their support and “for sharing me with the District.” Wrigley said he’s humbled by the opportunity to serve for another term, and pledged to serve as an advocate for children and families, maintain open lines of communication, and ensure the wise expenditure of taxpayer funds. “We know whom we serve and look forward to doing great things together,” he said. “I promise to continue to be your voice in education.”
Taylor said that in his home, “education is everything.” Both he and his wife, Pat, are retired educators. “What this job on the Board boils down to is the students,” he said. “We should never lose sight of that.” He expressed appreciation for fellow Board members and their willingness to serve. “It takes a lot of time to be a good Board member,” he said. “I am so grateful to serve on this Board. It is a true blessing. I don’t take it for granted.”
To listen to the ceremony and Board member speeches, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 6.
Board Leadership Re-elected
The Board unanimously re-elected its current leadership to serve in their roles for the next two years. Sherril Taylor will serve as President of the Board of Education. Steve Wrigley was reelected Vice President, and Nancy Tingey will continue to serve as Second Vice President.
Board Member Chad Iverson said he believes the Board’s decision to elect the leaders two years ago was most important vote it has taken. “Sherril has directed us in the past two years in calm and quiet ways. I really value his leadership and want to thank him for that,” Iverson said. “Steve reminds us … how big our charter as a school board is, and Nancy is thoughtful in every decision she makes.”
Please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 7 for details.
Advanced and Honors Diploma Changes Recommended
The Board allowed the Academic Team to begin moving forward on three adjustments to CSD’s Advanced and Honors diplomas http://www.canyonsdistrict.org/component/k2/item/1569?Itemid=791 to help increase student achievement and success after high school. The adjustments, presented following surveys and feedback from teachers, counselors, principals and SCCs, are:
– Creating a “Seal of Biliteracy” for students demonstrating competency in world language to meet Advanced and Honors Diploma requirements (starting with Class of 2016);
– A minimum GPA requirement of 2.0 for the Advanced Diploma and 3.0 for the Honors Diploma (starting with Class of 2017);
– 12th Grade English requirements to include one of the following courses (implemented Class of 2016):
o 12th Grade English Language Arts
o IB English
o AP English Language and Composition
o AP English Literature and Composition
o Creative Writing
o Concurrent Enrollment ENGL 1010 Intro to Writing and HUMA 1110 Intro to Humanities
The adjustments were presented on behalf of the CSD Academic Team by Dr. Hollie Pettersson, Director of Evidence-Based Learning in Secondary Schools. Dr. Pettersson presented feedback and data to support the proposals. She also noted the GPA requirements are a starting point to ensure students reach higher but are not deterred from taking the rigorous classes.
Dr. Pettersson noted national surveys showing 87 percent of recent high school graduates indicated higher standards would have helped them to prepare for college and careers. CSD’s differentiated diplomas are designed to boost rigor for students and likewise preparedness for the future, she said. Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said the proposal is a natural progression, to look at how things are working, how to make them better, and how best to raise the bar for student achievement. He noted a decision now is important to help seniors registrar for needed classes for next year and start to plant the seed with eighth-graders in what they need to do to accomplish their goals for the future.
Approved by the Board in 2010, CSD’s differentiated diplomas require competencies in math, world languages, and more rigorous coursework than the general graduation requirements. Seventy-one percent of the CSD Class of 2014 earned one of the diplomas, up from 60 percent in 2011, the first year of implementation.
To view the presentation or listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2C.
2016-2017 School Calendar Approved
After several committee meetings, collecting feedback from the public and revisions from the District Calendar Committee, the Board approved the 2016-2017 school calendar. School will start Aug. 24, 2016, end June 7, 2017, and include a two-day Fall Recess, a three-day Thanksgiving Recess, a Winter Recess starting on Dec. 21 and ending on Jan. 2, and a Spring Recess during the first full week of April. In addition, the calendar includes 3.5 contract days for teachers before school starts. “This is a decision we haven’t taken lightly,” Tingey said, noting an online e survey taken two month ago and extensive work by the calendar committee.
To view the proposals or listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 10B.
Diploma Pilot to Assist At-Risk Students
The Board approved on a one-year pilot basis an optional diploma that will be extended only to high school seniors who are at-risk for dropping out and meet certain criteria. The Board directed Dr. Dowdle to report data for the graduating class of 2015.
The optional diplomas are intended to allow students who are at risk of not completing high school in their senior year to earn an optional diploma by completing the state-required 24 credits, which includes four credits of English, three credits each of math and science, and three credits of social studies, among other requirements. Canyons requires students to earn 27 credits, three of which are additional electives, to graduate with a traditional CSD diploma. Students would be extended the optional diploma only in their senior year and only after meeting specific requirements, including meeting with counselors, the school administrator and the student. Dr. Dowdle believes there are between five and 10 students in each high school who may qualify for the diploma. Some board members expressed concern about equity and lowering the bar; others felt the diploma would create opportunities. Dr. Dowdle noted all other districts have a similar option.
For details, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 10C.
SCC Training Presented
Community Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards and School Performance Director Alice Peck reviewed CSD’s School Community Council training efforts. SCC training is required by state law. Training includes LAND Trust funding plans and measurable outcomes; website information requirements including public notice of SCC meetings and meeting minutes; and communication. Tingey said it’s important to involve parents in building student achievement and community. The Board thanked the team for their efforts.
To listen to the presentation, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2A.
Hazardous Bus Routes Discussed
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Robert Dowdle presented the Board with potential under-mileage bus routes that could be implemented in the coming school year. Such routes are ranked according to need. Dr. Dowdle said the district also discusses needs with cities, which oversee sidewalks and crossing guards. He said the District spends up to $1.2 million per year to cover under-mileage routes to help ensure safe passage for students. Not all districts fund such routes, which Taylor said are a worthwhile expenditure. The Board will continue its discussion in future Board meetings.
To listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2B.
Administrator of Evaluation Leadership Proposed
The Board received a proposal to create a position to implement the new state-required educator evaluation systems. The District is currently field testing the Canyons Teacher Effectiveness Support System (CTESS); developing additional components for Teacher Specialists, Achievement Coaches, Ed Techs, Library Media Specialists, Speech Language Pathologists, OTs/PTs, Counselors, and School Psychologists and a new evaluation tool for administrators; and soon will begin developing an evaluation system for educational support personnel. The evaluation systems require time commitments difficult to manage with existing resources. The administrative position would be created for a three-year trial period. The Board will further discuss the proposal in a future meeting.
To view the proposal or listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2D.
Chemistry Textbook Adoption Update
Dr. Pettersson asked the Board to approve a new chemistry textbook, selected unanimously by the District Textbook Committee. The textbook is needed to accommodate instructional demands, as more students are taking chemistry, and is not believed to contain any controversial content. Approval will allow the District to begin cost negotiations with the publisher. The Board will discuss the matter at the next meeting.
The Board approved updates to Board Roles and Responsibilities, Student Discipline and Nondiscrimination policies. For details, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 10A.
The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the Dec. 2, 2014 Minutes; Purchasing Bids; November Financial Reports; LAND Trust Amendment; December Board Hire and Termination Report; and the Renew Use Agreement with Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center for July 1, 2015-June 30, 2020. The Board also approved Student Overnight Travel for the following groups: Alta Academic Decathlon; Brighton Wrestling; Corner Canyon Drill Team and Track and Field; and Hillcrest Debate.
Hillcrest student Anthony Cheng, a Member of the Canyons Board of Education’s Student Advisory Council, said he has discussed the student dress code with fellow students. He relayed praise for the student dress code, and asked the Board to encourage more consistent enforcement and definitions, particularly on the length of skirts.
Betty Shaw of Region 17 PTA welcomed the new and returning Board members and said she looks forward to working with them. She said she appreciates the Board’s support at PTA events, and is grateful all schools in CSD have PTAs. She said the PTA is here to serve.
Dr. Briscoe welcomed to the Board Shill and Arnold, who he said attended several of his community meetings last summer. He said he believes the new Board will serve with passion and moral purpose. He congratulated the Board Leadership on their re-election. He said he has enjoyed working with them and noted the time they spend working with the Administration and other Board members to keep them informed. He said he attended with Shill and Tingey the IB Diploma presentation Friday. He said it was a humbling experience to see so many students attending high caliber universities nationwide. He said he’s looking forward to his first Utah School Boards Association Convention this weekend.
Leon Wilcox welcomed Shill and Arnold to the Board, and thanked Board Leadership for their support of the Administration. He reported on the planning meeting at the new Butler Elementary, and said the students were able to help choose interior design plans. He said a similar meeting is scheduled Friday at 4 p.m. at Midvale Middle School. He said the community is invited to attend to view the designs and point out their favorites. He said the Insurance Committee is working to create a great employees wellness plan for negotiations.
Shill attended December USBA training for new school board members with Board Leadership and Dr. Briscoe. She also attended the Butler Elementary architects meeting with parents, students and community members. She said the students were firm in their support of a more modern interior design, and architects are working on plans. She also noted that the Brighton soccer field is finished, that sod will go in this spring, and that Brighton Girls Soccer are to play there this fall. She enjoyed the Hillcrest IB commencement. She said she is thrilled to be on the Board, and promised to work hard and do her best.
Arnold said she took up enough time during her speech, and thanked the Board.
Iverson welcomed Arnold and Shill, and said the next two years will be great. He said he believes a teacher can do great things on the school board, and is excited about that. He noted a Salt Lake Tribune article that Overstock.com again would sponsor the Salt Lake County Spelling Bee. He said he hopes that each school will participate.
Wrigley attended the classroom reality event sponsored by the Utah Education Association. The event allowed policymakers to hear about matters affecting classroom teachers. He attended the Willow Canyon Elementary Winter Concert. The choir involved about one-third of the students and was directed by his wife. Heâs looking forward to the coming years with new Board members, and is impressed with them so far.
Tingey said she enjoyed the IB diploma presentation. She said the students who go through the program don’t receive IB diplomas until summertime, so the ceremony is scheduled during the holidays when the graduates are in town. She said it was wonderful to see the students reunite and share success stories. She attended the Butler Elementary architects meeting and appreciated the input and the process. She thanked the staff who planned and prepared tonight’s events. She thanked the Administration for generating the proposals that come before the board to prepare students for college of careers. She said she looks forward to joining fellow board members at the USBA Conference this weekend.
Robert Green said he looks forward to working with Shill and Arnold. He attended the Midvale Middle rebuild meeting with constituents, who he invited to Friday’s architects meeting. He noted public concerns about the campus, chiefly that the school will not be rebuilt with a pool that the community has enjoyed since 1955. He said a lack of a pool will displace Hillcrest swimmers. He encouraged the Board to engage in a partnership with County Parks and Recreation to continue opportunities for the community. He said he also discussed with Midvale Middle Principal Frank Schofiled some promising academic gains at the school that brought him to tears. He thanked his colleagues for their speeches following the Oath of Office. He said he will attend the Lego League qualifying tournament at Albion on Saturday, where he will serve as a judge, and will attend the Lego League championship at the University of Utah. He said he’s excited to serve with the Board the next two years, and said
Board Leadership been fair, thoughtful and hardworking.
Taylor thanked the board for the vote of confidence and said he’ll work hard on their behalf. He said it’s going to be a great year.