Affirming Canyons’ commitment to Dual-Language Immersion programs in the coming school year and beyond, the Canyons Board of Education has approved a two-school expansion of the Spanish-English DLI program.

Members of the Board of Education on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 unanimously endorsed a proposal to launch Spanish-English DLI classes at Altara and Midvalley elementary schools in fall 2020. The decision comes after a public-input process to gauge the interest of parents and teachers in both communities.

Altara Principal Nicole Svee-Magann and Midvalley Principal Tamra Baker held meetings with faculty, members of their School Community Councils, and Parent-Teacher Associations to discuss whether the program would be welcome. The feedback from all groups, both say, was overwhelmingly positive.

“Our faculty and community are so excited for this opportunity,” says Svee-Magann.  “We believe that it will strengthen our academics and infuse new energy into our school. We can’t wait to welcome new students to our Altara family.” 

Baker says the Midvalley community is “unified around the common goal of nurturing scholars who are ready for the most rigorous courses.”

“In a community rich with over a dozen languages,” she says, “our Midvalley community embraces the academic excellence that the Spanish DLI program will continue for all of our students, not just those in the DLI program.” 

Canyons District’s central-office staff is working on the tasks that need to be done in order to provide the first- and second-grade DLI classes for the Kittyhawks and Jr. Huskies in the fall. 

The CSD Instructional Supports Department will start the process to hire teachers and conduct a special application window. Children from all parts of Canyons District may apply, but some spots will be reserved for in-boundary children at both schools. 

Children entering first-grade and second-grade in the coming year are eligible to apply for both the Altara and Midvalley programs.   

Canyons expects the demand to exceed the available space at both sites. A lottery will be held to determine the students who are placed. 

Students who have already received a placement in another DLI program or are on the waitlist may apply for these two programs without risking their placement or status on the current waitlist. A family that ends up with two placements as a result of the special lottery can select their placement of choice.

Current first-grade DLI students at any other Canyons school, regardless of the target language, may apply for a placement at Altara or Midvalley. 

Parents who want their children to be considered for a placement in either program can submit an online application March 2-20.  

CSD will begin taking applications via an online portal at 8 a.m. on Monday, March 2.  Parents will be able to access a live link to the portal on the Canyons website on Friday, Feb. 28.   

Placement notifications will be sent electronically to parents on Friday, April 3. Acceptance letters from families will be due Friday, April 17.
A national search for the next superintendent of the Canyons School District launched today, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020.

The application to become Canyons’ fourth-ever chief executive was made available to prospective candidates at 8 a.m. Advertisements promoting the search will be appearing in national publications and on education-related websites until the end of the five-week application window.

The Canyons Board of Education opted to fast-track plans to find a new leader after the current superintendent, Dr. Jim Briscoe, on Jan. 14 announced his upcoming retirement from a 38-year career in education. In order to take advantage of peak hiring season, and with the goal of having a new superintendent in place by Dr. Briscoe’s last day on June 30, 2020, members of the Board established an application window to run from Feb. 10 through Friday, March 13, 2020.

Information about the national search, including the job description and required qualifications, can be found on the Canyons District website.

At the end of the application window, a third-party facilitator will review the applications and ensure the candidates meet the established qualifications before the names of the applicants are forwarded to the Board of Education for consideration.

The Board of Education, which hires and oversees the superintendent, will identify applicants it would like to interview. From that field, finalists will be chosen. After a final round of interviews, the successful candidate will be chosen and appointed by the Board.

As the search begins in earnest, the Board of Education seeks community input on the desired traits and experience of a new leader of the 34,000-student district. The Board is providing several avenues for the Canyons community to contribute to the conversation about the characteristics that students, parents, patrons, teachers, staff, and business partners would like to see in the new superintendent.

Links to online surveys will be sent to parents and employees via email. Responses will be accepted until Friday, Feb. 21. Three Town Hall meetings Feb. 25-27 also have been planned to gather additional input. 

“This public input process was created specifically because of how seriously the Board of Education is approaching the search for Canyons’ next leader,” said Board President Nancy Tingey.  “Any and all thoughts about the characteristics, experience, academic credentials, and leadership style desired by this community in a new superintendent will be considered as the Board reviews applications and interviews the top candidates. Please know that your voice matters, and we invite you to participate as we gather this much-valued information.”

The new superintendent will succeed Briscoe, who was appointed in 2014. Dr. Ginger Rhode, the first-ever Deputy Superintendent of Canyons District, served as Interim Superintendent for the 2013-2014 school year. She assumed the role when Dr. David Doty, the inaugural superintendent hired in 2008, stepped down to accept a position with a national education-reform organization. 

CANYONS SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH TOWN HALLS

Tuesday, Feb. 25 
6:30-8 p.m. 
Jordan High, 95 Beetdigger Blvd.  

Wednesday, Feb. 26 
6:30-8 p.m. 
Corner Canyon High, 12943 S. 700 East

Thursday, Feb. 27
6:30-8 p.m. 
Albion Middle, 2755 Newcastle Dr.
As a former English teacher, perhaps it’s natural for Butler Middle Principal Paula Logan to want to use the power of the principal’s office to launch a schoolwide focus on literacy.

It’s the skill that touches all parts of a child’s education, says Logan, who has been an educator for nearly three decades. Logan credits the all-in energy and commitment of her faculty and staff for the significant gains the Butler Middle Bruins have made in reading proficiency and looks forward to what they can continue to accomplish together.

Her drive to improve student literacy skills, as well as teacher capacities to bolster literacy instruction, is among the reasons that Logan this week was announced as the Utah Middle School Principal of the Year. The Utah Association for Secondary School Principals presented the prestigious award to Logan at the organization’s conference in St. George.  Logan also will represent Utah at the National Conference in September. 

Colleagues across Canyons describe her as determined, dedicated and steady. They’ve turned to her in crisis, as a sounding board — and for good humor when the chaos and blare of a building packed with awkward and rambunctious adolescents becomes a bit too much to bear.

“When I became an administrator I wanted to come back to the middle school. I wanted to be here, where kids have great energy,” Logan says. “I felt like, as an administrator, I could make a difference in supporting teachers, and creating structures that help them feel less stressed so their focus can be on the kids.”  

For Logan, the middle-school years are a special blend of innocence and wonder, growth and change. They are the years when students come into themselves, find their voices, and start to become the young women and men who will change the world. Logan is seen often in the hallways, smiling at her charges, urging them to make the most of the moment, face their fears, and reach for more than they thought they could be.

Logan, who previously was principal of Midvale Middle, also is committed to addressing the social-emotional side of middle school students. Under her leadership, the Butler Middle staff has focused on improving student connectedness. Passing out “Great Bruin” good-behavior incentive cards, recognizing Students of the Week, and encouraging teachers to use the first two minutes of class to connect with hard-to-reach students for 10 days in a row are just a few of the things happening at the school to help build connections. 

This year, Logan was recognized in the Canyons District with the 2019 Apex Award for Outstanding Administrator. This is the highest award presented by the Canyons Board of Education and Administration to a school administrator in the District.

At her selection for the top District honor, CSD leaders lauded her unwavering commitment to helping  students achieve at high levels. “Paula is probably the most dedicated educator that I have known,” said Mike Sirois, who supervised Logan as the School Performance Director over Canyons’ eight middle schools. “She has a passion for doing what is right with kids.”
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Superintendent Search


The Board of Education discussed how to organize and conduct a national search for a new Superintendent to replace Dr. Jim Briscoe who announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2020. In order to take advantage of peak hiring season, and with the goal of having someone in place by July 1, the Board hopes to begin advertising the position in early February. The search will involve seeking input from the community and possibly contracting with a consultant to perform the initial screening of applications. The Board also discussed the possibility of forming a subcommittee to conduct interviews.

Census 2020

Planning and Enrollment Director Dr. Floyd Stensrud and Associate Communications Director Kirsten Stewart updated the Board on the District’s plans to encourage participation in the 2020 Census. The 2020 Census will shape how billions in federal funding is distributed to communities each year. An inaccurate Census count could deprive students and teachers of needed resources. Last year, alone, Canyons District schools received $16.7 million in federal Title I aid, National School Lunch Program funding, and special education grants. The Board was presented with communication and community outreach plans, especially in under-represented, minority and low-income neighborhoods.

Curriculum Adoption and MasteryConnect Proposal

The Board of Education approved a new elementary science curriculum, health-instruction materials for secondary schools, and biology and earth science curriculum.  Parents had been given a chance to review the curriculum, ask questions, or even meet with a specialist to obtain more information, since Nov. 22.  An overview of the proposed curricula could be access online at the District’s website. Hard copies were available for review at the Front Desks of the Canyons Administration Building.  The public comment period ended Dec. 22.  The Board of Education also voted 4-3 to decline to buy MasteryConnect, a software supporting an online gradebook for elementary standards-based grading.

Legislative Update

Canyons’ External Relations Director Charles Evans updated the Board on progress with proposed changes to Utah’s tax laws. The External Relations team makes it easy to keep tabs on the bills of interest to Canyons District’s employees, patrons and taxpayers. Anyone interested in keeping informed of the progress of these pieces of legislation can sign up to receive daily updates through CSD’s Legislative RSS Feed.

Gifted Programs

Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward provided the Board with an overview of the District’s advanced learner programs. Most people know SALTA, or Supporting Advanced Learners Toward Achievement, as a magnet program that students in grades 1-8 test into. But SALTA also is an umbrella to describe in-school and after-school enrichment offered at all CSD schools, Roderick-Landward said. All CSD curricula come with extensions to support students who require a deeper dive into subject areas that they quickly master. Teachers also use project-based learning and small-group instruction to support a range of skills in their classrooms. Districtwide programs, ranging from debate, science fairs and math competitions to CSD’s annual Film Festival, provide students with extra-curricular avenues to stretch academically. At the secondary level, students can also access Honors, Advanced Placement and concurrent enrollment courses, an accelerated math program, and International Baccalaureate program at Hillcrest High. 

Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by students from Draper Elementary.  Draper Principal Christy Waddell talked about how the school focuses on listening to form strong personal connections.  Waddell said the 710-student elementary is a proud home of the Mandarin Chinese-English Dual Language Immersion programs. The school’s RISE scores went up between 3 percent and 5 percent.  She said the faculty has formed strong bonds through activities and collaborative teaching.  Waddell said she loves her job and the school.   

Recognitions

The following students, faculty and staff were honored by the Board of Education for their achievements: 
  • The Alta High Marching Band for being featured performers in the finale of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” 
  • Francesca Hall, sixth-grade teacher, Midvale Middle, for winning the 2020 Sontag Award for Urban Education, which has a $3,000 honorarium and provides her an opportunity to attend professional development at Harvard University.
  • Corner Canyon High’s football team for winning the 6A state championship trophy.  Seniors Van Fillinger and Cole Hagen also were recognized.  Fillinger was chosen as one of the 100 high school players selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.  Hagen was the Deseret News 6A Most Valuable Player and was named the 2020 Utah Football Gatorade Player of the Year. 
  • The Canyons Board of Education for earning the Master Board Award. January also is National School Board Appreciation Month, and Draper, Cottonwood Heights, Sandy and Midvale all recently passed resolutions thanking the Canyons Board of Education for their work in providing a top-notch education to the community's children.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the minutes of the Board of Education meeting on Dec. 17 and Jan. 7; hire and termination reports; approval of purchasing bids; student-overnight travel requests; purchasing bids; and December Financial Reports.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

The Superintendent thanked the Board for the robust conversations regarding the MasteryConnect proposal.  He reported on attending parent and faculty meetings at Bell View, Edgemont and Peruvian Park elementary schools to receive feedback and provide information. Work on new schools for those communities will start in 2021. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox noted the announcement of Dr. Briscoe’s retirement at the end of the school year.  He reported on attending the Utah School Boards Association conference. 

Board Member Reports

Mr. Chad Iverson attended an Alta High girls basketball game and a Conversation with an Elected Official event at Indian Hills Middle. He also commented on Dr. Briscoe’s retirement. He said he was shocked to receive his resignation letter, but thanked him for the work he’s done over the past six years.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold declined to speak. 

Mr. Steve Wrigley said he enjoyed the USBA conference and remarked on attending the Legislative Luncheon with the local legislative delegation, among other events, including the Arts Consortium meeting. 

Mrs. Amanda Oaks expressed appreciation for Dr. Briscoe and his work as the chief executive of CSD. She attended the Joint Legislative Committee meeting, an Arts Consortium Meeting, the No-Idling Campaign press conference at Willow Springs Elementary, a Sunrise School Community Council meeting, and a Responsive Services Department parent event about the dangers of sexting. She also will send information to Board members about the upcoming legislative session.

Mr. Mont Millerberg praised the remarks of the keynote speaker at the USBA conference, and said he liked the workshop on teacher compensation. He thanked the work of Board members to receive the Master Board Award from the USBA.

President Tingey noted her attendance at the USBA conference, particularly the discussion on how school boards are making an impact on student achievement. She attended Science Nights at Park Lane and Oak Hollow, the Region 17 PTA Reflections Awards, and a Brighton High FCLAA event at Butler Middle that served as a fund-raiser for anti-human trafficking efforts.  She thanked the Board members for their work to receive the MBA Award.  She directed the Administration to follow state law in posting public notices about next week’s meeting to discuss the search for the superintendent.
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.
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