Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.
The declining birthrates in Canyons-area ZIP codes, coupled with the inability of young families to afford the cost of a median-priced home in the District, are contributing to a dip in total enrollment. As a result, according to Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, the total number of students attending school in Canyons has dropped from 34,134 in the 2018-2019 school year to the Oct. 1, 2022 total of 32,931, a drop of more than 1,200 students in the last five school years. Wilcox, who is among the CSD Administrators on the District’s Long-Range Planning Committee, told the Board of Education that the number of births has gone down significantly in all seven of the ZIP codes in CSD since 2007 and the downward trend is expected to continue. As a result, enrollments at eight schools have dropped 15 percent or more since 2018. Three others dropped more than 14 percent, he said. Even more concerning is that only eight schools among Canyons’ 50 schools and programs experienced an increase in enrollment over that time period. It’s also notable that, during that time frame, Wilcox said, the median price of a home in Canyons District has jumped from $373,000 to $649,000. This has made homeownership, particularly in Canyons communities, out of reach for Utah families. In fact, recent economic data reveal 76 percent of households in Utah can’t afford a median-priced home. In 2019, that number was 49 percent. To bolster future enrollment in CSD schools, the District has launched a strategic enrollment initiative, as well as taken fierce interest in the development of the former Utah Prison land, a good chunk of which is located within Canyons’ boundaries. Wilcox said the committee also is examining the best uses for facilities and properties owned by Canyons District, including the old Crescent View Middle building, the Canyons Technical Education Center, and property the District has mothballed for future possible campuses. Wilcox also presented information about planned improvement projects at the new Diamond Ridge, Corner Canyon and Jordan high schools. Upgrades also are planned for Alta High’s band room, he said.
Utah College Application Month
Canyons high schools plan numerous events to mark Utah College Application Month, a program spearheaded by the Utah System of Higher Education. This is the first year that Utah schools have dedicated an entire month to encouraging seniors to completing and submitting at least viable college-entrance application. In the past, one week was set aside to not only help students complete applications but also stress the importance of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the documentation that needs to be done so students can access financial aid. In a presentation about UCAM activities, Student Services Director Dr. Brian McGill said Canyons students can participate in advanced placement, concurrent enrollment, and International Baccalaureate programs to get on the path for college while still in high school, McGill said. He noted that Alta and Jordan high schools also have “Step2theU” early-college partnerships with the University of Utah — the only schools in Utah to have such pacts with the U. Canyons Counseling Specialist Melissa Baker also updated the Board on the UCAM events planned at Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon, Diamond Ridge, Hillcrest and Jordan high schools. She pointed out that 54 percent of Canyons graduates enroll in college the year after receiving their diplomas. The University of Utah, Salt Lake Community College, and Utah Valley University are the top in-state choices for CSD graduates pursuing post-secondary education, according to USHE figures. Since 2014, the Canyons Education Foundation has pledged to cover the college application fees of students who cannot afford to pay them. This year, during UCAM, all in-state colleges and universities except for Westminster, Ensign, and Brigham Young University have waived college-application fees.
Human Resources Director Steve Dimond recommended to the Board that CSD continue to use the District’s state-approved teacher-evaluation system, called CTESS (Canyons Teacher Effectiveness Support System), to remain compliant with current Utah State Board of Education rule and Utah code. Teacher-evaluation measures were suspended at the outset of the COVID-19 years and have systematically been put back into place as pandemic-related protocols have relaxed. Evaluation Specialist Shawnda Moss said state requirements for teacher evaluations may change in the near future. However, until those changes are official, Dimond said, CTESS, which aligns with the Utah Effective Teaching Standards and Indicators, can continue to be used. The tool gauges educator effectiveness through evaluations of instructional quality, student academic growth, and stakeholder input. Based on those metrics, teachers are then assigned ratings of “highly effective,” “emerging effective,” “effective,” “minimally effective,” and “not effective.” Career educators who earn the lowest ratings are provided a plan of assistance according to state code and USBE rule.
Civics Education in CSD
Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward and CSD’S social studies curriculum specialists outlined civics education in Canyons elementary, middle, and high schools. Members of the Board of Education stressed the importance of civics education, including American government and the founding of the United States, in CSD schools. Activities that stress the importance of civics education include Constitution Day, mock-voting scenarios, History Day, debate programs, Model United Nations, Supreme Court simulations, and field trips to the state Capitol and other government buildings, among others.
Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen presented proposed policy updates governing breastfeeding and lactation in the workplace, protection of athletes and student head injuries, and student overnight travel.
The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including minutes of the Board of Education meeting for Oct. 4, 2022; hire and termination reports; student overnight travel requests; September financial reports, and a TSSP amendment for Indian Hills Middle.
The following patrons addressed the Board during Patron Comment. Recordings of their remarks can be accessed on BoardDocs.
- Cathy Collins
- Christina Stenten Lee
Principal Lori Reynolds said Midvale Elementary is on an upward trajectory. Reynolds said the school’s letter grade, based on year-end assessment scores, is bumping against a “C,” which is a major improvement from a few years ago when the school ranked among the lowest-performing schools in Utah. The Title I school also has been recognized for the tremendous gains made by multi-language learners and students who started their grades significantly behind. Midvale Elementary, where 11 languages are spoken by some 700 Midvale Mustangs, is “a truly magical place to be,” Reynolds said.
Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports
Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins expressed condolences to Canyons Education Foundation Development Officer Denise Haycock, whose mother died this week. He also noted the recent invitation by the Utah School Boards Association for Canyons officials to present at the association’s January conference about the development and implementation of the District’s newly created strategic plan. He also remarked on the 13th annual Apex Awards and the 14th annual CSD Middle School Intramurals Championship Cross Country Meet.
Mr. Wilcox mentioned National Principals Month in October. He also noted the end of the quarter.
Board of Education Member Reports
Mrs. Amber Shill congratulated the Apex Award winners and reported on a Brighton High football team’s service-learning project at East Midvale Elementary.
Mrs. Holly Neibaur commented on the relationships that are apparent between students and head custodians at Willow Springs and Draper Elementary, which also boasts the Apex Award winner of Education Support Professional of the Year. Assistant Facility Manager Fano Tagovailoa received the award. Mrs. Neibaur also thanked the Corner Canyon golf coach for his efforts to lift up and inspire team members.
Mr. Steve Wrigley reported on the Town Hall he hosted with President Nancy Tingey and his attendance at a Cabinet presentation that promoted educator wellness. He also remarked on the growth rates of Canyons students, especially in Title I schools.
Mrs. Amanda Oaks reported on the Apex Awards, Utah School Boards Association meetings, and her recent Town Hall meeting. She also thanked coaches and advisers who go the extra mile to build relationships with their students.
Mr. Mont Millerberg thanked Principal Reynolds and her team for working so hard to lift up and support students at Midvale Elementary. He said the Board is proud of Midvale, a one-time “turn-around school,” for being just 2.4 percent away from being a “C” school under the state’s school grading program. He also reported on attending Hillcrest and Midvalley School Community Council meetings and Jordan Valley School’s Homecoming Dance.
Regarding the discussion in study session about civics education, President Tingey noted that a lot of what we need to know about being good citizens is to not litter and to pick up trash. Those small acts often remind us that we are all in this together, she said.