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Canyons District mourns the death of Cazzie Brown, the head football coach at Hillcrest High.  The school community and its supporters have been encouraged to wear green today in a show of solidary and support for Coach Brown’s loved ones. 

The school issued the following message to parents and students early this morning: 

The administration, faculty and staff of Hillcrest High want to express our appreciation for the support you have shown our school community and Coach Cazzie Brown who passed away late Sunday, Aug. 27 from complications of a viral infection. A native of Houston, Texas, and former football player for Idaho State University, Coach Brown came to Hillcrest in 2016 by way of Judge Memorial and Highland High where he served as defensive coordinator and defensive assistant, respectively. In a short amount of time, with his deep love for students and his motto ‘One Pack, One Goal,’ he brought new energy and positivity to Hillcrest and its football program. Beloved by his students, he was a caring, passionate educator, a respected colleague and a dear friend. Caz will forever be remembered as the Coach who brought pride back to Husky Land, and he will be greatly missed. Counselors will be on hand today and throughout the week to support anyone who is struggling to process difficult emotions.” 

A candlelight vigil will be held on the football field at 9 p.m. tonight.
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 23:46

Board Meeting Summary, Aug. 22, 2017

Board Meeting Summary, Aug. 22, 2017

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

Bond Proposal


The Canyons Board of Education voted to seek resident approval of a $283 million, tax-rate-neutral bond on the Nov. 7 ballot. The Board also established a list of projects that would be completed with funds from bond issuances. If the bond proposal gains passage, the District will: 
  • Rebuild Hillcrest and Brighton high schools 
  • Rebuild Union Middle School
  • Renovate parts of Alta High School, including the addition of a new auditorium and gymnasium
  • Rebuild Midvalley and Peruvian Park elementary schools 
  • Rebuild a White City-area elementary school
  • Build new classroom wings at Corner Canyon High School
  • Build a new West Draper Elementary School
  • Remodel offices at Brookwood, Granite, Oakdale, Park Lane, Silver Mesa, and Sunrise elementary schools
  • Install windows and skylights for natural lighting at Altara, Bell View, Brookwood, Canyon View, Crescent, East Midvale, East Sandy, Granite, Lone Peak, Oakdale, Oak Hollow, Park Lane, Quail Hollow, Ridgecrest, Silver Mesa, Sprucewood, Sunrise and Willow Springs elementary schools.
Before the vote, Business Administrator Leon Wilcox reviewed the resolution and the language of the proposed ballot. He also reviewed a proposed timeline for construction of the building priorities and the legal requirements to inform the public about the proposal. 

Eric Pfieffer, research director of pollster Dan Jones and Associates, presented survey information to the Board. Of 1,204 Canyons District registered voters polled, 87 percent said the District spent proceeds from the 2010 general-obligation bond somewhat or very well. After hearing the projects under consideration to be completed with a new bond, 75 percent of respondents said they were likely to vote for the bond proposal, according to the survey. The margin of error in the survey is 2.7 percent. 

After the vote, Board President Sherril H. Taylor issued the following statement: “What an exciting time in the history of Canyons District. As work begins in earnest on the 13th and final major construction project promised to our patrons in 2010, we aim to extend our ambitious plan to improve schools across Canyons. Just as we did seven years ago, we have developed a list of construction priorities that will have us turning dirt in every part of Canyons District. While we think our track-record speaks for itself, we reiterate our pledge to provide modern and safe schools for our community while also serving as conscientious stewards of taxpayer dollars. We have built so much momentum since our patrons graciously supported our previous facility-improvement plan, and we have great hopes the community will continue to work with us in in our efforts to build up Canyons together.”

CTESS Update

In response to feedback from teachers and principals, Canyons District’s teacher evaluation system continues to be updated, said Human Resources Administrator of Evaluation and Leadership Sandra Dahl-Houlihan. With these refinements in place, 83 percent of teachers polled in May 2017 strongly agree or agree that CTESS has improved. In 2017, 94 percent of CSD’s career educators, and 86 percent of provisional educators, were rated as effective or highly effective. That’s up from the 93 percent and 83 percent, respectively, who reached effective or highly effective status in 2016. The three-year-old evaluation system remains a work in progress and will continue to undergo improvements, said Dahl-Houlihan. The end goal is for it to be an effective support tool for teachers, and not punitive.

Behavioral Supports Update

Responsive Services Director BJ Weller updated the Board on organizational changes that will make it possible for schools and District personnel to provide needed behavioral supports and respond quickly and uniformly to crises. The changes aim to better align all support professionals toward the common goal of removing barriers to student achievement. They come as schools throughout Utah are determining how to comply with juvenile-justice system reforms that require schools to find new ways to discipline kids without sending them to court. 

Volunteer Report

New Region 17 PTA Director Tonya Rhodes and former President Betty Shaw gave the Board a ceremonial giant check made for the amount of $2,900,783. This figure represents the amount of money the District would have had to pay in salaries if it would have had to pay employees for the 120,940 hours of work done by PTA volunteers.

Board Recognitions

The following were recognized for their achievements:
  • CSD Nutrition Services Director Sebasthian Varas, who was named by the School Nutrition Association as the 2017 Director of the Year for Utah
  • Special Education Programs Administrator and former Eastmont Middle Principal Stacy Kurtzhals, who recently received the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Program
  • Corner Canyon High freshman Arial Harp, for winning first place in speech performance at the Chinese Bridge Language Contest at the University of Maryland.

Open Meetings Training

Canyons District’s General Counsel Dan Harper briefed the Board on its responsibilities regarding Open and Public Meetings. The annual training is required by law.

School Community Council Training

Every year, CSD conducts training for new and returning School Community Council members. The trainings give council members an understanding of their statutory responsibilities and help them make the most of their time on their school’s council, explained Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards.  The work of the SCCs also streamline the approval process for school improvement plans, said Alice Peck, a CSD School Performance Director. 

Pledge of Allegiance and Reverence

School Performance Director Joanne Ackermann led the Board and audience in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Communications Director Jeff Haney delivered the reverence.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the consent agenda, which included minutes from the Aug. 2, 2017 meeting of the Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel plans; July financial reports; and CSD’s participation in the SAFE Neighborhoods Program. 

Patron Comments

Former Region 17 PTA President Betty Shaw thanked volunteers in Canyons Schools. She also expressed appreciation for District’s support during her tenure as the leader of the Parent-Teacher Association. She said the District needs to “keep the ball rolling” with school-improvement efforts. She said she’s 100 percent in favor of a new bond proposal. 

CEA President Erika Bradshaw introduced herself to the Board of Education. Bradshaw says she looks forward to maintaining a positive relationship with the Board and Administration. She also says she’s in favor of the bond proposal.  She noted the vast facility differences between Mount Jordan Middle, where she previously taught, and Hillcrest High, where she teaches now.

Superintendent and Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said the Board’s support of the bond proposal shows the members are committed to educational excellence. He applauded Z104FM for the radio station’s efforts to collect donations of back-to-school supplies for students in need, and thanked the External Relations team for their work planning the school supply donation drive. CSD joined forces with the radio station as part of its annual back-to-school Gathering for Good fundraising lunch.

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox thanked the Board members for their diligence in weighing the bond proposal. He thanked Facilities Director Rick Conger and his team for all the hard work they’ve put in over the summer to ensure CSD’s schools are ready to welcome students at the beginning of the year. Finally, he commended Nutrition Services Director Sebasthian Varas for his award.

Board Member Reports

Steve Wrigley remarked on the huge crowd that attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Alta View Elementary, the 12th project completed with money from the $250 million voter-approved bond. People of all generations came to the event to see the new addition to their community. Wrigley also reported on attending CSD’s New-Teacher Orientation and sat in on a faculty meeting at Eastmont Middle, where enthusiasm is high for the coming school year.

Mrs. Amber Shill said she looks forward to the first day of school and CSD’s traditional Red Carpet Welcomes on the first day of school. She also expressed gratitude for Sixth-Grade –Orientation, which helps new middle schoolers become acclimated to the building.    

Mrs. Nancy Tingey reported on attending a Cottonwood Heights City-sponsored luncheon for the 2017 Teachers of the Year in Cottonwood Heights-area schools.  She remarked on her excitement for the 2017-2018 school year. She wished everyone “a wonderful first day.” Lastly, she thanked her fellow Board members for support of the 2017 bond.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold expressed gratitude for fellow Board member Chad Iverson’s diligence in weighing the bond proposal. She thanked Business Administrator Leon Wilcox and his team for their hard work in preparing information and data on the bond. 

Mr. Chad Iverson commended Board member Clareen Arnold for the unique perspective that she brings to the Board as a career educator. He expressed enthusiasm for the Utah State Board of Education’s willingness to reevaluate year-end testing for high school students. He added that he supports the will of the Board with regard to pursuing a bond.

Board President Sherril Taylor recognized the hard work and diligence of teachers who worked so hard to prepare for the start of school.  He noted the excitement that is felt in the schools for the first-day-of-school celebrations.  He also thanked the police officers for providing security to the community. 
Thursday, 03 August 2017 06:00

Board Meeting Summary, Aug. 1, 2017

Board Meeting Summary, Aug. 1, 2017

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

Potential Bond Proposal Discussion

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox updated the Board on the work being done to prepare for a possible general-obligation proposal for the November ballot.  Wilcox said that roughly half of the facility needs identified in the 2010 architectural review of all CSD buildings have been addressed. However, there still is a significant amount that remains to be done, even with ongoing work with capital-facility money and completion of 12 of the 13 projects promised to voters at the time of the approval of the $250 million bond in 2010. Wilcox said any debt could layered into the existing outstanding debt. He said the District also is studying ways to make the bond proposal tax-rate-neutral. Possible projects, which would be funded with bond and capital-facility money, include an Alta High remodel; new wings at Corner Canyon High; the construction of a new elementary in west Draper; rebuilds of a White City, Midvalley and Peruvian Park elementary schools, Union Middle, Hillcrest and Brighton high schools; six elementary school office upgrades; and 18 elementary school lighting upgrades. The deadline to vote for a resolution to place a bond-issuance question on the ballot is Aug. 22. The Board also addressed issues surrounding the projects that could be completed with bond money, including ensuring the public is aware of the planned construction.

Staffing Report

The new salary schedule approved last spring by our Board of Education has proven effective in Canyons District’s recruitment efforts, according to a report by the Human Resources Department. In April, Board voted for an innovative and progressive salary schedule that boosts the starting salary for a beginning teacher more than $5,000 a year while also providing salary hikes for mid-career and veteran educators. CSD’s Human Resources Director Steve Dimond reported that Canyons District staff recruited at 11 teacher fairs and other recruiting events, such as a “Flip the Interview” night CSD’s District Office. As a result, some 230 licensed employees have already been hired for the 2017-2018 school year. Sixty-two of those educators — 27 percent — are re-locating to CSD from out of state, with help from our re-location stipend program. In addition, 29 — 13 percent — are in an ARL/APT program. As of July 25, CSD had to hire just one school psychologist (which has been offered to a candidate), one speech-language pathologist, two elementary teachers, nine secondary school teachers, and four special-education teaching positions. Dimond also reviewed recent exit-interview results with the Board members. 

SAFE Neighborhoods Program  

The Board of Education was asked by the United Fire Authority to be a partner in the SAFE (Schools Aid Families in Emergencies) Neighborhoods Program. The aim of the initiative is to provide assistance to citizens at a local school in the event of a major disaster. The fire authority wants to put an emergency kit in every elementary school in Salt Lake Valley. The kit would aid in neighborhood communication, public information, situational awareness, and household reunification in the first 96 hours after a calamity. The fire authority previously met with the Incident Command Manual Update Committee, which is wrapping up a re-write of the District’s emergency-response plan. The Committee, at the request of Board member Mont Millerberg, asked the fire authority to give their presentation to the Board as whole.

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the consent agenda, which includes approval of the minutes from the Board of Education meeting on July 11; hire and termination reports; student overnight travel requests; and administrative appointments.

Academic Framework

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie and Instructional Supports Department Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward updated the Board on the District’s multi-tiered system of supports. Dr. Roderick-Landward explained that this framework serves as a roadmap for school-improvement plans.  Board President Sherill H. Taylor said the Board would review the information and may ask additional questions at a later meeting. 

Administrative Appointment

The Board approved the appointment of Quentin Linde as the new Assistant Principal at Corner Canyon High. A vacancy at the school was created when Scott Wihongi was appointed Principal of Murray High School in the Murray City School District.  Linde has been serving as a science teacher at Corner Canyon High. At the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie also introduced new administrators Kenna Sorensen, who is now an administrator in ISD and Dr. Angela Wilkinson; the new Principal at East Sandy.

Recognitions

The Board recognized the achievements of students, faculty and staff in Canyons District.  The Board honored Cora Mickelson, 4A state champion girls golfer; Redd Owen, Brighton High’s 5A first-singles tennis champion; Olivia Berhan, winner of a Sandy Young Entrepreneur Contest;  Energy Conservation Specialist Chris Eppler, who was named an Energy Pioneer by the Utah Gov. Gary Herbert; Jordan High’s Roberto Jimenez, whose leadership in the program Puertas Abiertas helped win ta Family Engagement Award at the National Family Engagement Summit; Rique Ochoa, the 2017 Utah History Teacher of the Year; and the Hillcrest Husky Strong Academy, for being the reason CSD was named a national District of Distinction by District Administrator Magazine.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Dr. Briscoe thanked the Board for the discussion surrounding the possible bond election. He also presented information to the Board about the area where the Utah State Prison now sits. He also informed the Board about the Administrator’s Training held today in the Professional Development Center of the Canyons Administration Building-East.  He said he’s excited for the start of the school year. 

Wilcox said the CSD is finalizing a contract for transportation in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Facilities Department is working hard to complete projects in schools, he said. He reminded the Board that Alta View’s site work will not be completed until November because crews had to tear down the old school after the new school was constructed. 

Board Reports

Mr. Chad Iverson thanked his fellow Board members for the collegiality on the Board.  He said he feels comfortable sharing his thoughts and feelings with other Board members.

Mrs. Nancy Tingey said she had the privilege of sitting on the Governor’s Excellence in Education Commission, which is developing a 10-year roadmap for advancing education. The group heard a presentation by Pam Perlich, a demographer at the University of Utah who stressed that while macro data are interesting, it’s neighborhoods that should occupy the focus of policy makers and elected officials. Neighborhood schools are the nexus of communities and Board members are privileged to be able to focus on individual neighborhood schools and the communities they serve. 

Mrs. Amber Shill thanked teachers and the administration at Jordan High who recently celebrated completion of a summer academy designed to give entering freshmen a jump on high school.

Mr. Steve Wrigley expressed appreciation for the administration and remarked on how much he looks forward to the start of school. He is proud of the District’s past year of accomplishments, and looks forward to another year.

Mr. Mont Millerberg commended schools for having such a welcoming attitude. He also spoke about how the architecture of the school reflects some of Utah’s most stunningly beautiful assets of Utah, including Delicate Arch. He also remarked on how many teachers were putting in extra hours, outside of their paid contracts, to prepare their classrooms and lesson plans. He said he’s excited for the opening of the new Midvale Middle on Aug. 8.

President Taylor thanked the Board for the rigorous debate and discussion about important items. He mentioned the Board has met a lot over the summer.  He said he feels the excitement in the air for the start of school.
Fifteen-year-old survives lung surgery to compete in national bowling championship 

Emily Pelzer was just 7 years old when she first saw a school flier inviting kids to come bowling. It seemed like it could be fun, so she asked her mom if they could go.

Eight years later, the soon-to-be sophomore at Hillcrest is still bowling — but the sport has become much more than a hobby. It’s a lifeline.

It turns out Pelzer is a natural at the sport. One year after she showed up to the bowling alley for the first time, the 8-year-old won her first national title, representing Utah in the national competition. Now that she’s 15, Pelzer has earned seven national titles in all, and this weekend she is going for another.

To face 4,500 competitors in the national bowling competition is a challenge of its own. But Pelzer has an ace up her sleeve. To her, bowling isn’t just a fun way to pass the time. It’s a metaphor for life. “You can learn a lot from it,” Pelzer says after finishing a long day working at Fat Cats bowling alley.

The last time Pelzer took her title to the countrywide competition, she placed 21 out of 450 competitors — and unbeknownst to her, she was playing with a partially collapsed lung. Pelzer’s mother, Sheri Harding, found her daughter on the floor not long after that game, lethargic and blue from the lack of oxygen reaching her system.

Pelzer, they later discovered, had three dime-sized holes in her right lung, caused by a chain of events that occurred when she had an allergic reaction to something she ate in the sixth grade, which caused her to go into anaphylactic shock. To stop the shock, paramedics gave her a different medicine, which triggered a second allergic reaction. Pelzer aspirated the medicine, which burned her lungs as soon as the medicine made contact. Harding didn’t know her daughter’s lungs were damaged, but at the time, she was just focused on helping Pelzer survive.

“They didn’t really give her much hope to actually live after she had that (first anaphylactic shock),” Harding says. “She was pretty much gone, and they brought her back, and it was really scary.”

Since then, Pelzer has had extreme allergic reactions to other common ingredients, but she was unaware of the extent to which her lung had been damaged four years ago. In the last year, the teenager had reconstructive lung surgery to correct the problem. The recovery process nearly took over her life, but there was one thing that kept Pelzer going: bowling. 

“I said, ‘All right, I’m not going to give up just because my lungs are giving up on me,’” Pelzer said. “I’m not going to let that happen because I know my body is more comfortable doing this sport than any other sport.”

So, Pelzer resumed her training, working on her spares and strikes nearly every day, preparing for the national championships that take place this weekend in Ohio. Pelzer already has a full-ride scholarship to Texas A&M because of her bowling skills, but she has her eye on the top prize: a $300,000 scholarship and registration on Team USA for the next summer Olympics.

Canyons District will be cheering this Husky on, but no matter what, she is already a hero to us.
A summer academy created to put entering Hillcrest High freshmen on the path to excel their first, make-or-break, and beyond, has earned CSD the honor of being named a 2017 District of Distinction by District Administration Magazine. The award recognizes districts for leading the way with educational innovations “that are yielding quantifiable benefits, and that could be replicated by other districts.”

Hillcrest is a place where achievement is possible for all students. It consistently ranks among Utah’s top 10 high schools in U.S. News & World Report rankings, which look at graduation rates and test scores with an emphasis on the performance of disadvantaged students; more than 40 percent of Hillcrest’s students are from low-income households.

But in the summer of 2016, Hillcrest Principal Greg Leavitt began asking what it would take to ensure every student reaches his or her potential. His answer: a rigorous summer preparatory academy to give incoming ninth-graders a jump on high school. How students perform in the first months of their freshman year can determine whether they drop out or graduate.

With a nearly half-million-dollar investment by the Board of Education, Leavitt began working with the principals of the elementary and middle schools that feed into Hillcrest to identify students most likely to benefit from the inaugural Husky Strong Summer Academy. For 30 days, 80 students that first year received four hours of daily instruction in math, science, English and geography. Students had to forgo their summer breaks, but those who completed the coursework started school with a quarter of an elective credit under their belts. They also were eligible for cash incentives of up to $400 sponsored by the United Way of Greater Salt Lake.

The program, coupled with mentoring of students throughout their high school careers, has contributed to a 10 percent increase in the number of Husky freshmen on track to graduate. The strategy is now being adopted by Jordan High, which on June 12 welcomed about 45 freshmen to its inaugural summer academy.



The idea of paying kids to go to school has its detractors. But the stipends aren’t meant as a reward for performance, explains Jordan High Principal Wendy Dau. They’re a means to remove barriers. “Many of these kids have summer jobs or other responsibilities at home, such as looking after younger siblings, and we’re asking them to put those aside in order to come to school. We know that the biggest barrier to successful summer programs is that students do not attend regularly.”

huskystrongstudent.jpgAt an orientation event this past June to introduce students to the program, Husky Strong graduate Chris Allen encouraged his peers to take advantage of the opportunity, which he credits for helping him earn a recurrent spot on the Honor Roll and achieve a 4.0 grade point average last semester. “I know some of you are thinking this is a waste of time, but it’s the most valuable time you’ll spend all summer,” he told them.

The benefits of the program extend well past summer. Academy “graduates” are paired with mentors with whom they meet at least weekly throughout their high school careers to chart academic progress and set goals. “Being involved in the program taught me how much we need to teach students to do school. We need to teach them really specifically our expectations and we need to teach them how to be successful,” says Hillcrest Assistant Principal Sara Newberry. “You’ve got kid walking down a path. They can’t necessarily see the end of that path or the obstacles that are coming up in front of them. My job is to clear those obstacles so they can walk down that path.”

One of Utah’s largest newspapers called the initiative a "smart, sensible and innovative" approach “to dealing with a specific problem — one that happens to be at the heart of any education system’s principal mission — to make sure students who show up on the first day of school are still there when the bell rings on graduation day.” Parents who were surveyed agree the Academy was valuable, and student participants report feeling more confident.

“Students and parents know we’re on offense rather than defense,” says Leavitt. “We’re playing to win the game rather than just trying to cover up and come from behind.”

For more, see this profile by The Salt Lake Tribune, and the Deseret News.


Recipe for Success
Every school faces unique challenges, and there is no one-size-fits all strategy for bridging the achievement gap. But here are a few key ingredients for a successful summer academy.

Adopt a Data Mindset: Using data from formative assessments, teachers are able to tailor their instruction and discern which strategies work or don’t work.
Seat-Time Matters: Ninth-graders who completed the Husky Strong Summer Academy continue outperform those who finished only a portion of the preparatory program.
Monitor and Mentor: Extra funding allowed Hillcrest Administrator Sara Newberry to get “off the alphabet,” the conventional way of assigning students to Assistant Principals, and focus exclusively on monitoring the progress of a select group of at-risk students. CARE teams at Hillcrest and Midvale Middle also collaborated to identify students in need of academic and emotional interventions, and choose students as best candidates for the Summer Academy.
Encourage and Motivate: Cash stipends were paid to student Academy participants as an attendance incentive. Each week, sometimes daily, either Hillcrest’s Assistant Principal, a counselor or an Americorps volunteer met with students to help them set goals and stay on track academically.
Connect with Family: Principals met with families at school and in their homes to explain the goals of the program, to help them understand the importance of their child’s attendance, and to better understand how the school can support them.
Strengthen Professional Development: Intensive coaching — sometimes as many as 10-25 sessions per teacher per year — has raised the quality of instruction at Hillcrest’s feeder schools and improved teacher morale.
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