Canyons Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe has announced his intention to retire at the end of the school year.
In a message sent to Canyons District administrators and principals late Monday afternoon, Dr. Briscoe said it’s been “a very difficult decision” to retire from his post as the leader of the 34,000-student District. He has been Superintendent since his appointment in 2014.
“This afternoon I notified the entire Board of Education of my intent to retire. CSD is moving in the right direction as a result of your leadership,” Dr. Briscoe said in the email. “I have been humbled and honored to work alongside each of you.”
Dr. Briscoe is the longest-serving superintendent of Canyons District, the first new school district to be created in Utah in nearly a century. Briscoe succeeded Interim Superintendent Dr. Ginger Rhode, who took over the reins when Canyons’ inaugural Superintendent Dr. David Doty resigned to take a position with a national education reform organization.
True to form, Briscoe told his Canyons colleagues that he plans to fulfill his roles and responsibilities “110 percent” over the next six months.
“I have discussed this decision at length with my wife and family,” said Briscoe, who has been an educator for 38 years and a superintendent of schools, both in Utah and Illinois, for 18. “For the first time in my life, I have butterflies in my stomach for what the future holds. However, it is time for me to find out what life is like outside of serving and working in a school and community.”
Briscoe said he will work with the Board of Education and his eventual successor to ensure a smooth transition.
Board President Nancy Tingey lauded Briscoe for his positive attitude, inclusive leadership style, and no-nonsense approach to finding solutions to challenges in school communities.
“Dr. Briscoe is a one-of-a-kind leader,” she said. “When he leaves us, we will certainly miss his wisdom, good humor, and unrelenting focus on the achievement of students. For now, though, we will enjoy the time we have left with him and rely on his expertise to guide the District to a strong finish of the school year. He is such an important part of our District’s history, and his work in the past six years has put Canyons on the path to achieve even greater success.”
Achievements of the District during his tenure as Superintendent include a new teacher compensation package to bring the starting teacher pay to $50,000, the completion of all new-school and renovation projects promised to the public at the approval of a $250 million bond in 2010, the passage of a $283 million bond to continue the District’s ambitious school-improvement program, and the increase of the graduation rate in Canyons District to 90 percent.
“The District had searched long and hard to find this great man who came from a very big city and challenging school district in Chicago," said John Martindale, a leader in the Canyons Education Foundation, the District's fund-raising arm. "I have enjoyed his leadership style and skill set, which I believe has enhanced the education of its teachers and students in the Canyons School District. We will miss his diversity — come on, he was a Chicago Bears fan! Most importantly, he was a great partner to the Education Foundation that has seen tremendous growth during his tenure. He will be sorely missed.”
The Board of Education will soon decide the next steps to select a new superintendent of the District.