Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.
Back-to-School Action Plan
To the end of maintaining safe, welcoming, and prepared school communities during the ever-changing era of COVID-19, Canyons is hard at work on a Back-to School Action Plan that will ensure the safety of the CSD community when school begins in fall 2020. Incoming Superintendent Rick Robins presented to the Board of Education an early draft of the proposed operational blueprint, which corresponds with the color-coded levels of risk as identified by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and a state coronavirus task force. Robins said the final version of the plan addressing how schools will operate in a red, orange, yellow or green phases will guide how Canyons will provide access to learning opportunities, either in person or with a blended-learning format, while also adhering to health guidelines. Robins said the Administration will work closely with the Board, as well as state and local government authorities, as it readies for the first day of school on Aug. 17, when students will need transportation, nutrition services, and class schedules, among other things. Further, the effort calls for a review of policies that govern issues affecting the operations of schools in the midst of a pandemic. The District is developing necessary cleaning protocols and grading and attendance structures, and ensuring teachers are provided professional development so they are prepared to pivot quickly in the event of additional coronavirus-related closures. The Administration will ask stakeholders for input as the plan is created, and the CSD community will be updated regularly in various platforms regarding the status and operations of CSD schools. The District is working on the process that schools will follow to provide distance-learning opportunities for high-risk students and students who may not be attending in-person for other reasons. Robins and other administrators were encouraged by the Board to be innovative in their planning.
Superintendent Briscoe Honored
The Board of Education honored Dr. Jim Briscoe, who is retiring this year after a 38-year career in education. Briscoe has been Superintendent of Canyons District for six years, and is the longest-tenured leader in the District’s history. Among the highlights of his time in Canyons:
- Canyons student academic achievement has risen and students regularly outperform their peers statewide on assessments.
- Canyons’ graduation rate has increased to an all-time high.
- The last of the 13 construction and renovation projects promised to the community in 2010 were completed, and CSD’s ambitious school-building improvement plan continued with the passage of a bond in November 2017.
- Initiatives that support a broad spectrum of Canyons’ students, such as the Supplemental Hours of Kindergarten program, Elementary Brain Boosters, Hillcrest’s Husky Strong Academy, and the unique-to-Canyons “Step2theU” early college program were created and implemented.
- A significant boost to teacher salaries, with a beginning teacher’s salary at $50,000.
While Briscoe excelled at building, noted President Nancy Tingey, he also worked to break down barriers that are obstacles to innovation and access and achievement. He saw problem-solving as a challenge that was best approached with input from others. The Board thanked Jim for his hard work, vision and commitment to excellence. “You’ll always be a part of the Canyons District family, Jim,” President Tingey said. “We promise we’ll continue building on the successes we achieved together.” The Board presented Dr. Briscoe with a crystal award, a bag of CSD-branded swag, a box of mementos and gift certificates to celebrate his retirement, and flowers for his wife, Joan.
Online Learning Survey
Instructional Supports Department Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward and School Performance Director Cindy Hanson updated the Board of Education on the results of online learning during the COVID-19 dismissal of classes. All students in Canyons District high and middle schools reported logging into Canvas, the District’s common-learning management system, at least one time during the “soft closure” of schools as mandated by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. Ninety-seven percent of elementary school students logged into Canvas at least once during the dismissal. Information Technology Director Scot McCombs reports that about 80 percent of the 10,000 devices loaned to students for use during the dismissal have been returned. CSD’s Nutrition Services also provided a major service to the community. In all, 165,002 grab-and-go lunches and 161,585 breakfast were distributed. In a survey, parents indicated that Canvas was not challenging to use and appreciated being able to check out devices for student learning. Students said online learning was more difficult than expected, and teachers said it was challenging to keep students motivated. During the dismissal, Canyons school counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and therapists maintained services for students.
Canyons District Budget
The Board of Education approved a final budget for 2019-2020 and a proposed budget for 2020-2021. The budget for the coming school year does not include the negotiated salaries for employees. Those will be finalized after the District receives information about the level of state funding for the coming year. However, according to an agreement approved by the Board with the Canyons Education Association, the District will follow the CSD Insurance Committee’s recommendations to keep insurance premiums the same as they were in the 2019-2020 contract year.
Graduation Event Report
The Classes of 2020 at Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon, Hillcrest, Jordan and Diamond Ridge high schools overwhelmingly participated in the “drive through” graduations held May 27-28. Families also reacted favorably to the alternative graduation events that were planned to celebrate the Class of 2020 in the midst of a global COVID-19 pandemic, reported Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bob Dowdle. Parents commented on the party-like atmosphere along the parade routes, he said. Some even suggested making the celebrations a permanent fixture at graduation time. Graduates will be surveyed to find out if they intend to return for a traditional ceremony on Aug. 7.
USBA Power-Up Challenge
Board of Education member Mont Millerberg updated the Board on a request by the Utah School Boards Association for all Utah school boards to complete the organization’s open-meeting law training. Every local board that has a 100 percent completion rate within the month will qualify to have their members’ names entered into a drawing for gift cards to restaurants.
The Board of Education discussed a proposed update to the District’s policies governing student discipline. The Board will continue to review the suggested changes to the policy. The Board approved an update to the policy regarding long-term disability insurance.
The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes from the Board of Education meeting on May 19, 2020; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student-overnight travel requests; May financial reports; approval of transfer of one portable classroom to Altara Elementary.
Patron Ben Macey commented on the Spanish-English Dual Language Immersion program at Midvalley and Altara elementary schools.
Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports
Business Administrator Leon Wilcox congratulated School Performance Director McKay Robinson for earning his doctorate degree. He also thanked Dr. Briscoe for his leadership, guidance, and friendship.
Dr. Briscoe figuratively handed the baton to Dr. Rick Robins, the new chief executive of CSD. Briscoe thanked the Board for the opportunity to serve. He said he “feels blessed” for being a part of the Canyons community. Dr. Robins thanked Briscoe for his work in Canyons District and beyond.
Board of Education Member Reports
Mrs. Amber Shill requests the Board the plan a discussion about anti-bias and anti-racism curriculum and programs for students and employees.
Mrs. Amanda Oaks agreed with Shill’s suggestion and thanked Dr. Briscoe for his time as Superintendent.
President Nancy Tingey thanked the District staff for attending the meeting.