A shutterbug at Jordan High is helping Canyons District send wishes of a picture-perfect yuletide.

A photograph taken by 17-year-old Shellby Carvalho shines bright on the cover of the District’s 10th annual holiday card, which is sent to local legislators, Utah’s members of Congress, and Canyons’ major supporters. 

The star of Carvalho’s photo is her snow-white dog, Cali, a 2-year-old Great Pyrenees and Labrador mix she adopted from the Humane Society of Utah. 

“Because my dog is white, I thought that was a symbol of simplicity and purity, which is what the holiday season is all about,” says Carvalho, who takes Advanced Placement art classes and is the school’s Sterling Scholar candidate in the visual arts category.

“I’m so happy that I was able to make it happen,” she said about the photo shoot, which required stringing up colorful lights well before the holiday season and getting the dog to sit still long enough to snap the shot. She also edited the images and used a photo-enhancement program to complete the design.

Carvalho plans to major in environmental studies at Westminster College next fall.   

This is the fifth year Canyons District has asked students to create artwork for the official holiday card.  Students from Corner Canyon, Brighton, Alta and Jordan Valley School have provided artwork in previous years.
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Indicators of Student Success

Indicators of student success — ACT scores, AP participation rates, and graduation numbers — are on the upswing in Canyons District, according to Research and Assessment Director Dr. Hal Sanderson. Canyons District 12th graders outscored their peers across the state on the ACT, the entrance exam most commonly used by U.S. colleges and universities, Sanderson told the Board of Education. Students also gained in all parts of the test, which gauges student proficiency in English, mathematics, reading, and science. The average composite score of a Canyons student is 21.6. The highest composite score that a student can earn is 36. Of the 2,415 students who took the test, the average English score was 21.1. In mathematics, students hit 20.7; in reading and science, the average scores were 22.2 and 20.5, respectively.  Sanderson also presented information about the percentage of kids who take — and pass — Advanced Placement classes. The participation rate of Canyons students is on the rise, he said, and at 71 percent, Canyons District is above the state AP pass-rate of 69 percent. In the last academic year, 4,347 AP tests were taken by Canyons students, and 35 percent of eligible students took at least one AP test.  Canyons District’s graduation rate also is on the uptick, from 85 percent in 2016 to 86 percent in 2017 to 89 percent in 2018. 

Financial Report

Canyons District is about $6 million under-budget for the 2018 Fiscal Year, says Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, who presented the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.  The District was authorized to spend $264 million, but spent about $258 million while maintaining a fund-balance or savings of $75 million. That savings rate has been vital in preserving the District’s AAA bond rating, Wilcox says. Also of note: The District’s taxable value has markedly grown over the years, rising from a low of $15.6 billion in 2012 to $22 billion in 2017. CSD is expecting another 10 percent increase in its taxable value in the tax year 2018. The District is required to submit the report five months after the end of the fiscal year. 

Recognition of President Sherril Taylor's Service

The Board of Education honored President Sherril H. Taylor for his decade of service to Canyons District. Taylor, whose final term on the Board ends in December, was presented with a crystal award, memento photographs, and the Board member identifier plaque that has been displayed outside of Board chamber at the Canyons Administration Building-East. A video slideshow featuring photos of Taylor serving in his role as an inaugural Board member, as well as Vice President and President, also was shown. Board 1st Vice President Nancy Tingey also read the following resolution into the official record of the meeting: 

“In recognition of extraordinary service and leadership, the Canyons Board of Education presents this Resolution in honor of Sherril H. Taylor:

Whereas, Mr. Taylor served as a member of the inaugural Board of Education of Canyons School District, the first new School District to be created in Utah in nearly a century, and which provides educational services to approximately 34,000 students who hail from Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta;

Whereas, among Mr. Taylor’s noteworthy achievements, as a member of the first-ever Board, he played a major role in the historic creation of the District, division of $1.5 billion in assets of the former Jordan School District, and the negotiation of the arbitration agreement that established Canyons’ financial foundation;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor was instrumental in national searches for top-tier candidates to serve in the vital leadership posts of Superintendent and Business Administrator of the Canyons School District;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor supported innovations designed to inspire high levels of student achievement, including the unanimous Canyons Board of Education vote to implement the state’s first-ever differentiated high school diplomas and the reconfiguration of grades in every school;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor is the longest-serving member of the Canyons Board of Education, and has served in a Board leadership position, either as President or Vice President, during his tenure on the Board.

Whereas, Mr. Taylor endorsed the successful 2010 and 2017 bond proposals to build and renovate schools in every corner of Canyons District. Under his leadership, Canyons District has either completed major renovations or rebuilt 13 schools, including the construction of Corner Canyon High and Draper Park Middle, and is in the midst of renovating, augmenting, or rebuilding four of the five CSD traditional high schools;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor has developed and strengthened relationships with Canyons District’s municipal partners, policymakers, and legislative leaders, which has led to an unprecedented partnership to provide services to all shared constituencies for the betterment of schools, cities, families and children;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor served as President of the Board of Education when Canyons District put into place a progressive salary schedule that aids in attracting the country’s best new educators while also rewarding veteran teachers who have provided valuable service to the District;

Whereas, during Mr. Taylor’s tenure of the Board, Canyons has emerged as an innovative and responsive District that is a leader in the state in academics, arts education and athletics, as evidenced by rising test scores, awards for stellar artwork and stage performances, and dozens of team and individual region and state championship trophies;

Whereas, Mr. Taylor’s contributions as an exacting, thoughtful, kind, dedicated, and generous leader are unparalleled and will be greatly missed by his fellow members of the Board of Education, Administration, faculty, staff, and volunteers;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Canyons Board of Education expresses its deepest appreciation for the outstanding contributions made by Mr. Sherril Taylor during his decade of distinguished public service in support of Canyons School District.”

In addition, Board members individually commented on Taylor’s service and leadership. Their remarks can be heard in their entirety on BoardDocs.

Digital Divide

According to a survey given to parents during this year’s online registration process, 10 percent of Canyons District students, including 430 high school students, do not have Internet access at home. Canyons District’s Information Technology Director Scot McCombs asked the Board to consider funding a proposal that would bridge this so-called digital divide. The proposal requests funding to provide a device and a filtered hotspot subscription for qualifying students. The estimated cost is $21,500 for 430 Chromebooks and $86,000 for 430 $20-per-month hotspot subscriptions. McCombs said the District is working with a cellular provider for discounted services. The Board will continue to review and discuss the proposal. 

Support for Midvale Elementary Restructure  

The Board of Education agreed to sign and deliver a letter that asks the Utah State Board of Education to allow Midvale Elementary, which did not meet the criteria to exit out of “turnaround status” based on the results of its year-end assessments, to continue to seek improvement under a restructuring plan that is showing promise. 

Policy Updates

The Board of Education reviewed a proposed policy that would govern the publication of yearbooks in Canyons District high schools. The Board also adopted a policy governing student use of automobiles and parking.

Pledge of Allegiance and Reverence

The colors were posted by Boy Scouts from East Midvale Elementary. The reverence was delivered by Matt Nelson, Principal of East Midvale Elementary. 


The Board of Education honored the following students, faculty and staff for their achievements:

  • Shellby Carvalho, Jordan High senior, artist of the District’s Official Holiday Card
  • The Corner Canyon High girls’ soccer team, 5A state championships
  • The Corner Canyon High Shakespeare team, Sweepstakes winners, Utah Shakespeare Competition at Southern Utah University
  • The Hillcrest High Shakespeare team, Sweepstakes winners, Utah Shakespeare Competition at Southern Utah University
  • The Corner Canyon High football team, 5A state champions
Patron Comments

Patron Kim Horiuchi expressed concern about a recent audit from the Utah State Auditor’s report regarding the information provided to the community about the 2017 bond proposal. 

Patron Wendy Davis also spoke about the audit from the Utah State Auditor’s Office. She said the Board should follow the audit’s recommendations 

Patron Betty Shaw said she had a message from former Board member Ellen Wallace, who served with President Taylor on both the Jordan and Canyons Board of Education.  The message thanked Taylor for his service. 

Hillcrest High parent Karen Conder spoke about a resolution she sponsored in support of students with disabilities that was approved at the National PTA Convention.

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes of the Nov. 13, 2018 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; approval of hire and termination reports; student overnight travel requests; the 2017-2018 Comprehensive Financial Report and Related Audit Report; an interlocal agreement with Cottonwood Heights City for a storm water system near Brighton High; an Easement Agreement for Retention Pond with Cottonwood Heights City, and a Board of Education letter to USBE in support of Midvale Elementary.


The Board of Education approved the Academic Calendar for 2019-2020 and gave tentative approval of the calendars for academic years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. 

Update on Responsive Services

Responsive Services Director BJ Weller presented progress information about the first year of his department’s operations. He reviewed data related the department’s efforts to respond to students who express suicide ideation, SafeUT tips, and crisis interventions, among other tasks.  Weller also said the department has improved the system used by schools to document office referrals, fights, tobacco and vaping violations, and drug or alcohol violations. The department is broadening the scope of mental-health supports an implanting a behavior screener for elementary schools, in addition to streamlining the collection of data related to student discipline. Also, Responsive Services is operating a youth academy for secondary students who need extra support both academically and behaviorally.

Superintendent and Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Briscoe thanked the Chamber Choir from Corner Canyon High for performing at a meeting attended by Utah school district superintendents. He also commented on the visit to the Governor’s Mansion by a Brookwood fourth-grade class to decorate the tree in the mansion’s library. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox reported on the meetings the District has had with the Utah State Auditor’s Office to discuss the recent review of publicly released information related to the successful 2017 bond proposal. He said the District worked with the state elections office and the Salt Lake District Attorney’s Office to address any issues of concern that were referred to the offices. He also clarified that the cost of Corner Canyon High’s construction was $71.5 million, with a Board-approved classroom addition that will cost $9.6 million, bringing the total to 81.1 million. He said all decisions regarding the construction or renovation of school are made in public meetings. Related documents can be found on the District’s website. He also stated that the expansion of CAB-East is being funded with proceeds from the sale of CSD land on 500 West, and reiterated that the Board has discussed in public the expenditures and contracts for any construction projects in Canyons District. He expressed appreciation to President Taylor for his service.

Board Members

Chad Iverson thanked Wilcox for the clarifications.  He said he would miss President Taylor. 

Clareen Arnold appreciated the feedback from the financial report and thanked staff for their work in increasing the high school graduation rate. 

Mrs. Nancy Tingey reported on attending Brookwood Elementary’s visit to the Governor’s Mansion to help Gov. and Mrs. Herbert trim the tree in the mansion’s library. She said the governor and first lady were warm, kind and patient with the students, and gave good advice about pursing an education. 

Mrs. Amber Shill expressed thanks to Wilcox for presenting clarifying information. She reported on attending Hillcrest’s production of “Hairspray” and the 5A football championship game in Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah. Because of her roles as a Trustee Board member of the Utah High School Activities Association, she was able to present the trophy to the Chargers. She expressed appreciation to the administration, faculty and staff of the District for their efforts to increase AP participation and pass rates, the increasing ACT scores and the upswing in the graduation rate. She said she will miss President Taylor and hopes he will enjoy his retirement from service on the CSD Board.   

Mr. Steve Wrigley reported on his committee assignments, as well as attending the District’s luncheon for newly elected officials. He also said he attended high school musicals.

Mr. Mont Millerberg thanked Wilcox and his staff for preparing the CAFR and ensuring the District remains on solid financial footing. He thanked Wilcox for presenting clarifying information during his report to the Board. Mr. Millerberg also reported on attending the first meeting of the committee that will be planning Canyons’ 10th-year anniversary celebrations.  

President Sherril H. Taylor thanked Board members for their collegiality and friendship. He said the District is in “overdrive” and said the District administration, faculty and staff are “superstars.” He thanked the teachers and Education Support Professionals for their hard work and dedication.
Calling all bilingual 11th and 12th grade students: If you’re fluent in two or more languages, you can apply to have an official Seal of Biliteracy added to your high school transcripts.  

The Seal of Biliteracy is placed on a high school graduate's transcript by the state of Utah to certify for employers and universities that the student has demonstrated proficiency in English and at least one world language. It is evidence of a student's readiness for a career, college and for engagement as a global citizen. 

High school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply for the seal starting Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. The application window closes on Jan. 24, 2019.  

To apply, students must obtain a form from their school’s Counseling Center. As part of the application process, students may be required to take a language proficiency exam sometime between March 5-15. Individual schools will determine the date, time and location of testing as well as a make-up testing date.

Additional guidelines and information about the application process can be found at your high school's counseling center.

They go the extra mile to tailor instruction. They document everything, not because it’s a federal requirement but because they want parents to be able to meaningfully celebrate their children’s progress. They have hearts of gold and a work ethic to match.

With the season of giving approaching, we’d like to take a moment to recognize those who give so much of themselves to ensure all children reach their potential. Over the past few months, CSD’s Special Education Department visited schools to surprise 10 educators and related service providers with Exceptional Service Awards.

This year’s awardees are exemplary of caliber of instruction delivered each day with patience and care in schools throughout the District.
Mary Weidman-Hoffman is a speech pathologist at Copperview Elementary. She was nominated for the growth she has made personally and professionally. She does a phenomenal job advocating for students, coordinating services, and connecting with outside providers as well as serving as a resource for school staff and faculty.
Heather Litster is an early childhood educator at Butler Elementary. She was nominated for her positive attitude and her ability to differentiate instruction for a wide range of students while still maintaining the fidelity of the curriculum. Her "I can do it” attitude makes her a valuable member of the early childhood team.
Teresa Ockey is a psychologist at Sandy Elementary and was nominated because of her impact on student learning at her school. She is actively involved in her school community and is invested in the success of all students.
Marian Gladbach is the department head at Jordan High. She builds positive relationships with students, and is known as a "fierce advocate” for their educational needs. Marian is actively involved in her school and with the other special education teachers on her team.
Jodi Brown is a resource teacher at Willow Canyon Elementary. She is an exceptional teacher who works hard, while deploying an unmatched sense of humor, to help her students make progress toward their goals.
Emily Christofferson is a speech pathologist at Draper Elementary. Though relatively new to Canyons, she has shown real leadership in overcoming challenging circumstances this past year while stepping up to help keep the school’s special education team on track with their paperwork and organized.
Angelee Gardiner is a speech pathologist at Silver Mesa Elementary. She promotes positivity with everyone, from the students she singles out each day for praise to the colleagues she uplifts with encouraging remarks. Angelee has knack for making the mystery of special education language accessible, which shows in her ability to keep parents actively engaged in their child’s education.
Dana Crosby is a resource teacher and member of the Student Support Team at Willow Springs Elementary. Always patient and kind, Dana has been known to spend hours calling parents or writing emails to update them on their student’s progress. She doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to overseeing the master special education schedule, or finding new ways to reach and inspire students to learn.  
Linda Draper is a special education teacher at Union Middle. A leader, an innovator, a tremendous worker, and an advocate for all students—particularly students with learning disabilities—Linda brings to Union a fresh perspective about instructional strategies that motivate learners and is continually seeking ways to differentiate her instruction.
Becky Morgan is a resource teacher at Bell ViewRelationships are important to Becky, which is why she takes time to get to know her students and their families as well as the school’s staff. A mentor to new teachers, she interacts with everyone in a kind, supportive way, including students whom she buoys with words of encouragement while holding them to high expectations.

special ed awards
It’s like clockwork. With the arrival of cold weather come winter colds and sniffles, posing the inevitable quandary for parents: How sick is too sick to send your child to school? Sometimes, it’s obvious. If your child is feverish and shaking or vomiting, he or she is probably in no condition to be learning. But what about a nagging cough or sore throat? Canyons District encourages school employees and students to stay home when:

  • They are not well enough or seem too run down to participate in class.
  • Their cold symptoms are accompanied by a fever of 101 F or higher.
  • They have a contagious illness, such as the flu or pinkeye/ conjunctivitis (crusty and red eyes with yellow or green discharge).
  • They have vomited two or more times in a 24-hour period, or have diarrhea.
  • They have been diagnosed with a bacterial infection, such as bronchitis or strep throat. In such cases, keep a child home for 24 hours after starting antibiotics. 
A word on lice: Once a child has been treated, he or she can return to school.

What Do Schools Do to Prevent the Spread of Disease?

Canyons District has about 5.8 million square feet of space to keep cleaned, which is accomplished each day with special attention paid to touchpoints, or highly-trafficked areas with which students come into direct contact, such as door knobs, computer keyboards, and drinking fountains. Deep-cleaning to combat specific illnesses entails using specialized chemicals and tools, such as electrostatic sprayers, which can cover an entire area with a bug-fighting coating of disinfectant. Parents can help by reminding children of the importance of good personal hygiene. The best way to stop the spread of disease is to thoroughly wash hands after using the restroom and before preparing or eating meals.
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