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Getting Involved

Board Meeting Summary, Sept. 17, 2019

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

Brighton High Marching Band
Brighton High is proposing to start a marching band to capitalize on growth in student interest in the school’s music programs. A survey of parents showed 99 percent approve of the idea, and the school’s Music Director Mikala Mortensen is committed to building the program, says Principal Tom Sherwood. Already, under Mortensen’s guidance, participation in Brighton’s Jazz Band has quadrupled and its orchestra has tripled in size. In addition, the school recently started a drum line, which has performed at graduation, the first day of school and sporting events. Mikala also collaborated with Alta High to spearhead a Canyons District mega-band, which drew students from throughout the District to participate in summer parades. A marching band would add to school spirit, enhance academics and provide students with another outlet for engaging in school, Sherwood says. Starting a band would require a seed investment of $296,000 to purchase and maintain instruments, uniforms and equipment. If approved by the Board, the marching band also would be supported by student fees. The Board will take up the matter at a future meeting.

Technology Plan
Over the past 10 years, Canyons has worked to get technology and computing devices into the hands of school staff and students. A number of schools are to the point where every student has access to a computing device, says Information Technology (IT) Director Scot McCombs. Districtwide, McCombs’ team is maintaining 50,000 computing devices, up from 10,000 in 2009. The District last year also launched a grant-funded technology check-out program to make filtered hot spots and Chromebooks available to an estimated 3,500 students who don’t have access to the Internet or computer at home. With another grant, the District purchases rights to software to help students with reading and pays for upgrades to its network infrastructure and professional development for employees. Major IT projects for the coming years include the implementation of a new Internet filter, point-of-sale devices for school lunchrooms and disaster recovery systems as well as cyber and network security upgrades.

Curriculum Approval Process
Canyons’ Instructional Supports Department Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward explained a proposal for standardizing and making more predictable the selection and implementation of new curricular tools and resources. The proposed 25-step process would be overseen by a committee to include teachers and administrators and begin 18 months prior to bringing final recommendations to the Board of Education for consideration. It involves a thorough review of research and best instructional practices, seeking input from national experts, schools and parents.  

Special Education Update
Inclusive schools and the availability of instructional coaches to support teachers in working with students with disabilities are among strengths identified in a routine state audit of Canyons’ special education programs. In January, 2019, four state teams reviewed hundreds of files, surveyed 23 schools, conducted 158 interviews and staged 16 focus groups with students and parents with the goal of ensuring compliance with federal standards. Among areas for improvement identified by the monitoring teams was the need to provide general education teachers with more training in special education, says Canyons’ Special Education and Related Services Director Misty Suarez.

Elementary Boundary Adjustment
Business Administrator Leon Wilcox proposed a small boundary adjustment to accommodate a new subdivision and 120-unit apartment complex being built at the corner of Highland Drive and Traverse Ridge Drive in Draper. The boundary line that currently defines areas served by Draper Elementary and Oak Hollow Elementary currently cuts through the center of the new apartment complex and subdivision. Wilcox proposed extending Draper Elementary’s boundary to include those new residences. The Board will take up the matter at a future meeting.
Pledge of Allegiance, Inspirational Thought
Altara Elementary students led the Pledge of Allegiance and Principal Nicole Svee-Magann provided the inspirational thought. Propelled by a belief that every student is important and part of the community, Altara’s staff and faculty have worked hard to boost student achievement. Buoyed by the gains in test scores for low-income students and English language learners, Altara now ranks among the top 10 percent of elementary schools in Utah.  
Consent Agenda
The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the approval of the minutes of the Sept. 3, 2019 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel requests; August financial reports, a plan to move two portable classrooms from Corner Canyon to Alta High during Alta’s renovation, and the hire of an Administrator of Technology Support.

The following students and employees were recognized by the Board of Education for their achievements: 

  • Noah Ripplinger, Butler Middle student, Best In Show and first-place prizes for artwork at Utah State Fair
  • Luke Ripplinger, Ridgecrest Elementary student, first place for artwork at Utah State Fair
  • Brent Markus, Canyons Custodial Specialist, Utah School Employees Association’s ESP of the Year
  • Charlotte Graham, Administrative Assistant at East Midvale Elementary, Utah School Employees Association ESP of the Year

Volunteer Report
Last year, more than 13,000 patrons and parents devoted more than 180,000 hours to volunteering in Canyons District schools. That’s the equivalent of $4.6 million in labor, as measured by national estimates for the hourly value of volunteer time, says Canyons Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards. The PTA alone contributed about 57,000 of those hours, and presented the Board with a ceremonial check to represent their involvement in Canyons’ schools. Region 17 PTA president Tonya Rhodes thanked the Board and administration for their leadership and support.

Policy Updates
The Board considered changes to policies governing fiscal accountability, the acceptable use of school technology and the solicitation of schools by vendors.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe complimented the Board for their rigor in their review of policies and budgetary matters, and said he looks forward to participating in the 2019 Canyons Education Foundation Golf Tournament.

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox introduced a new administrator in the IT Department. Ryan Neff will be replacing Dean Glanville who left for a job opportunity in the private sector. Wilcox also commented on the high morale at CSD schools, which, he says, is owing to the investments the Board has made to upgrade schools and increase salaries.

Board of Education Reports

Mr. Mont Millerberg remarked on what a good time he had catching up with old friends at the 2019 Apex Awards. He thanked Midvale Mayor Robert Hale for attending the Board meeting and for the spirit of collaboration Canyons enjoys with the city. He applauded Canyons Education Foundation Officer Denise Haycock for her work in planning the upcoming golf tournament fundraiser, and remarked on value of this year’s Utah School Boards Association (USBA) Leadership Academy.

Mrs. Amanda Oaks also attended the Apex Awards, and says she was inspired by the stories of the awardees. She also attended an Alta High School Community Council (SCC) meeting and remarked on the importance of providing SCC’s with training to understand the rules governing the use of TSSA funds.

Mrs. Amber Shill thanked the External Relations staff for the work that went into planning and staging the 2019 Apex Awards. She said she attended Brighton High’s first SCC meeting and was recently given a signed cardboard lunch tray by Butler Elementary students as a token of their appreciation for the Board’s willingness to replace the school’s Styrofoam trays with a biodegradable alternative.

Mr. Steve Wrigley thanked the External Relations Department for staging the 2019 Apex Awards, which he says was the best one yet, and remarked on how much he enjoyed the USBA’s Leadership Academy.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold said it is a privilege and honor to learn from and work with members of the Board, CSD administrators and teachers who all bring unique expertise and talents to the table.

Mr. Chad Iverson said he attended several school events, including a cross-country meet and Friday, Sept. 13 Corner Canyon and Alta High football game.

President Tingey echoed Board member comments about the well-organized USBA Leadership Academy and hard work that goes into the Apex Awards. She remarked on progress being made with the Brighton High rebuild and thanked members of the Board for their time and attention to detail in updating the District’s Policy Manual.

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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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