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The Board of Education, acting as a Board of Canvassers, on Tuesdsay, Nov. 21, 2017 voted unanimously to accept the tally of the votes in the Nov. 7 bond election — the results of which will enable the District to immediately continue building up Canyons with modern, safe and welcoming schools.

According to the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office, 57.8 percent of the 51,429 residents who cast ballots voted in favor of the District’s $283 million bond proposal. Some 42.2 percent voted against the tax-rate-neutral measure. Voter turnout was 48.2 percent. A canvas, or an examination, of the returns is required two weeks after an election.

Funds garnered through a series of issuances will be used on 11 major construction and renovation projects. This includes rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, a significant renovation of Alta High, a rebuild of Union Middle, rebuilds of Peruvian Park and Midvalley elementary schools, a new school in the White City area, and a new school in the west Draper section of the District. Offices at six elementary schools will be remodeled, classrooms will replace the portables at Corner Canyon High, and 18 other elementary schools also will get windows and skylights to bring in natural light to classrooms and hallways.

With the vote of confidence, the District is moving quickly to realize the facility-improvement plans created at the outset of the bond proposal. On Tuesday night, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance of up to $49 million in general-obligation bonds to pay for construction and for refunding certain obligations of the District for a cost savings. The bonds can be sold after the required 30-day contest period of the bond election.

The Board already has selected the general contractors to oversee the construction of new Brighton and Hillcrest high schools and the major renovation at Alta High. An architectural firm also has been selected to design the new Union Middle. Even with the actions, the Board members have firmly emphasized that no project-priority list has been approved. The contract approvals simply secure a price for contractor work. The Board will continue its discussions regarding project timetables at an upcoming meeting.

After the Board officially accepted the ballot count, Board 1st Vice President Nancy Tingey noted the successful bond vote came nearly 10 years to the day that residents in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta voted to create a new school district, which eventually became Canyons. “This is historic,” Tingey said. “I think it’s a major event for our District. Driving here (to the meeting) tonight, I was thinking back 10 years ago, when the District was created and what has been able to occur in the past 10 years in our community. I wanted to recognize that and celebrate that.”

The canvassed results show the majority of voters in every municipality in Canyons District voted in favor of the bond. In Cottonwood Heights and Midvale, 62.5 percent voted in favor of the measure. In Draper and Sandy, the figure reached 56.6 percent and 56 percent, respectively.

Canyons Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe congratulated the Board on the successful outcome. “It took courage to put the measure on the ballot,” he said, adding that the successful vote, and by such a significant margin, is a reflection “of how the general public feels about the direction of the District.”

Board President Sherril Taylor said the state of the facilities on the east side of the old Jordan District was a major reason why residents voted to create CSD. An architectural review done at the District’s founding indicated that CSD buildings needed $650 million in needed repairs. Since 2010, when patrons approved a $250 million bond to start addressing the facility needs, CSD has completed 12 of 13 promised school-improvement projects. The 13th project, a renovation of Indian Hills Middle, is expected to be complete in time for the start of school in fall 2018.

The sense of excitement is nearly palpable, says member Mont Millerberg, who served on the Board when the 2010 bond proposal was approved with 50.66 percent of the vote. The buzz at Hillcrest High’s sold-out-every-night production of “Les Miserables” was the potential of having a state-of-the-art auditorium at the newly rebuilt school, Millerberg said.

“It really does boil down to the parents and the patrons,” President Taylor said, adding that many of the bond supporters no longer have children in Canyons District schools. “They realize that we are paying forward to the future. I am proud of my generation for doing that and voting for the bond to take care of their grandchildren and other peoples’ children. We would not be the country we are without public education, I guarantee that.”

When the sun rose 10 years ago on a hot August morning, change was in the air.

Bus drivers were heading out on new routes. Nutrition workers were starting from scratch as they planned students’ meals. Principals and teachers were preparing to welcome students back to school with a renewed sense of purpose and excitement.

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It was the first day of school, Aug. 26, 2009, in the first school district to be created in Utah in 100 years. It was a day of excitement, electricity—and in all honesty, a little bit of anxiety. It’s a day Canyons School District will never forget. As we celebrate the start of Canyons’ 10th school year, we’re taking stock of the highlights of a decade of educational excellence where, from that first sunrise, the focus has been on student achievement, innovation, community engagement, customer service and fiscal responsibility.

“In the 10 years since Canyons School District opened its doors, a lot has happened,” said Canyons Board of Education President Sherril Taylor, who has served on the board since its creation. “From communities to curriculum—even down to the landscape—there have been many changes. We are proud of what we have accomplished, and we are proud to offer a world-class education to our students. We have come so far, and the best is yet to come for our Canyons District family.”
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Canyons’ tradition of rolling out a red carpet to greet students on the first day of school began 10 years ago on the first day of school. It signified a new beginning, an emphasis on helping every student become college-and career-ready and the idea that student success is the driving motivator in all that Canyons does.

From that time, Canyons has focused energy and resources across the District to bolster students and educators in their endeavors. Key accomplishments from the last decade include:

From 2010-2017, Canyons built eight new schools, extensively renovated four schools, and started work on the 13th and final renovation project made possible by a $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010. Other schools received seismic and other safety upgrades, cooling systems, and other improvements. This was done without raising taxes and while maintaining the District’s AAA bond rating.
Since its inception, Canyons has given teachers some kind of compensation increase, a cost-of-living or step increase, or both—even during the Great Recession. In the past two years alone, teacher pay has risen by double digits, including a $5,000 bump in the starting teacher salary.
In 2011, Canyons introduced the state’s first differentiated, or Advanced and Honors, diplomas to signal students’ preparedness for college by requiring them to complete more rigorous coursework. In 2018, nearly 65 percent of students who graduated from traditional high school earned Honors or Advanced diplomas.


In 2013, Canyons’ schools were reconfigured to move sixth-graders into middle school and ninth-graders into high school. The change created a more clearly defined four-year path to graduation in high school, and made it possible for middle schools to focus on meeting the needs of 6-8th graders during a time dramatic physical, intellectual and emotional development.
In 2015, Canyons created Diamond Ridge High, an alternative school for 16- to 18-year-old students who require a non-traditional setting.
In 2016, Hillcrest High launched a summer academy to help freshman excel in their first, make-or-break year and beyond. Students receive four hours of daily instruction in math, science, English and geography, throughout the summer, earning credits and cash incentives sponsored by the United Way of Greater Salt Lake. The nationally-recognized program is helping to bridge the achievement gap at Hillcrest, and has given rise to a similar program at Jordan High.

In 2016, a supplemental kindergarten instruction program was introduced to provide extra academic options to the community. With this opt-in, tuition-based program, kindergarteners receive nearly four additional hours of instruction every school day.
In 2017, the first cohort of students from Alta High participated in a partnership program between the University of Utah and Canyons District called Step2theU. Students began coursework during the summer of their junior year, and will have two complete semesters of college credit by the time they begin university.

In 2017, voters approved a $283 million bond to rebuild six schools, including Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, build one new elementary school in west Draper, replace portables with classrooms at Corner Canyon high, remodel Alta high, and remodel offices at six elementary schools. The bond also will pay to install windows and skylights for natural lighting at 18 elementary schools.
Canyons District’s K-8 students continue to outperform their Utah peers on year-end SAGE tests, in some areas by as many as 13 percentage points.

Our high school seniors also outperform their Utah peers, with a higher percentage meeting college-readiness benchmarks on the ACT college entrance exam.

From the first day Canyons became a district on July 1, 2009, teachers, administrators, and the Canyons Board of Education have brought passion, creativity, and a mindset that anything is possible to Canyons’ communities. The last 10 years have been remarkable, but all eyes are on the future. To the passing of a decade and herald the start of another, we’ve unveiled a new District logo, and have planned some community events for later in the year.

“When I first came to Canyons District five years ago I was impressed at how much had been accomplished in a few short years,” CSD’s Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said. “We have continued putting students first, and working with the community. I think it’s had a huge impact. If we keep working together, there’s no end to what we can do.”

2d9861f7dfa371a841ce6730b641ed6c SConstruction crews are busy working on projects throughout the District, and one more elementary school will soon be joining the list. The Canyons Board of Education voted unanimously on July 17 to begin rebuilding Midvalley Elementary as the first of three elementary schools in the District to be rebuilt.

NJRA Architects will be designing the new building, and construction is anticipated to begin in April, 2019. The new school is expected to open for the 2020-2021 school year. As part of a $283 million bond approved by voters in 2017, three elementary schools in Canyons district will be rebuilt and a new elementary school in west Draper will be built. Peruvian Park and a White City school will also be rebuilt.

Canyons’ administration proposed choosing Midvalley as the first project because it is the oldest of the three buildings, has ADA issues, needs roof repairs, and will be the easiest to build onsite while students are in school during the 2019-2020 school year. Also, it can help absorb growth in west Midvale.

Midvalley originally opened in 1957. According to industry standards, an assessment of the school shows that the cost to repair the building exceeds 68 percent of the cost to replace the building. The new school will be built onsite while students continue to attend the old school.

What a year!  In the past 365 days, Canyons District, which was founded on July 1, 2009, continued its drive to provide a world-class education to the children who attend public school in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta. The 2017-2018 school year — CSD’s ninth academic year — was marked by sky-high achievements, including state-title victories by all five of CSD’s five traditional high schools, the passage of a $283 million bond to build and improve schools, the naming of National Merit Scholars and Sterling Scholars, and an estimated $32 million in scholarship offers for the 2,830 graduates in the Class of 2018.  But that’s just a small-piece-of-cake taste of all that was achieved by CSD students, faculty, staff and supporters. Here’s a look at some of the major achievements of CSD since its last founding-day anniversary:  
  • Nearly 59 percent of voters give approval to CSD is issue up to $283 million in general-obligation bonds to build and improve schools.
  • The newly rebuilt Alta View Elementary welcomed students for first time.
  • Crews near completion of renovation of Indian Hills Middle, the 13th and final project promised to voters at passage of the 2010 $250 million bond.   
  • CSD maintained  a AAA bond rating, resulting in savings to taxpayers
  • Seventy-eight percent of CSD elementary and middle schools received school-grade scores of an A or B, an increase of five percentage points over 2016. The number of elementary and middle schools to earn Cs and Ds fell by six percentage points. 
  • Eighty-three percent of CSD elementary schools and 75 percent of middle schools in CSD were above state average, according to PACE.  Sixty-six percent of elementary schools and 63 percent of middle schools showed higher growth than schools averaged statewide. 
  • Four CSD high schools were recognized for the number of students who take Advanced Placement courses. Brighton High ranked No. 8 out of all Utah high schools for the number of students who take and pass the tests. On the list of the Utah high schools with the highest AP participation rates, Corner Canyon ranked No. 5, Hillcrest No. 8 and Alta No. 10.
  • For the eighth year, CSD received the Meritorious Budget Award from the Association for School Business Officials International and the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association. 
  • The Canyons Education Foundation delivered some $104,000 to 16 teachers to fund innovative classroom projects.
  • Edgemont and Midvalley elementary schools celebrated 60th anniversaries.
  • Albion Middle’s Sandy LeCheminant is named Utah Assistant Principal of the Year.
  • Alta High's Rique Ochoa named Utah History Teacher of the Year.
  • Alta and Hillcrest musicans perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. 
  • Canyons Education Foundation awards $11,000 in student scholarships at annual Spring Gala.
  • Three CSD students won categories at 56th annual Sterling Scholar competition. 
  • Two Hillcrest students and one Corner Canyon high school student earn National Merit Scholar status. Fourteen students from all five of CSD’s traditional high schools were named semifinalists.
  • CSD student athletes individual and team state championships in cross country, girls tennis, boys tennis, wrestling, girls track and field, swimming, boys soccer, baseball, theater and girls golf. 
  • Hillcrest’s production of “Les Miserables” wins Best Musical at the Utah High School Musical Theater Competition.
  • Groundbreaking events were held to mark start of work on rebuild of Hillcrest High and major renovation at Alta High. Work on a new Brighton High also has started.   
With better insulating materials and sustainable building products, today’s schools are more energy efficient than those built 50, or even 20, years ago, which translates to lower energy 7aed15c0eec6780801cf15fe872dd63a_XL.jpgbills and an immediate cost savings for taxpayers.
 
As schools and school districts grow larger, however, to meet demands of growing student populations, those energy gains can be quickly wiped out. Yet Canyons District has managed to reduce its carbon footprint by 39 percent over the past eight years — even with the addition of 1 million square feet of new construction.
 
Since Canyons’ inception, the District has worked to address the life safety and technological deficiencies of the aging stock of buildings it received from a previous school district while also planning for growth. Among 13 major school improvement projects financed with proceeds from a bond approved by voters in 2010 were the construction of the first high school and middle school in Draper.
 
Yet, even with these new buildings and the added burden of having to power modern teaching tools, CSD’s conservation efforts have reduced carbon emissions by 39 percent since 2009. That’s the equivalent of taking 1,473 cars off the road per year, says Chris Eppler, CSD’s Energy Conservation Specialist.
 
The energy savings is partially due to a push to place mechanical systems in unoccupied mode when schools aren’t being used, while the rest is tied to heating, cooling and lighting upgrades, Eppler says. “It really comes down to doing things right. If you repair, build and operate schools correctly with an attention to quality, you will reduce energy consumption while keeping classrooms more comfortable.”
 
For his environmental stewardship, Eppler has received numerous awards, including being named an Energy Pioneer by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. His conservation efforts have not only saved money but have resulted in better learning environments for thousands of children.
 
Among other steps CSD has taken over the years to cultivate healthy schools:
 
WATER USAGE: Canyons is doing its part to curb water usage; the district has about 370 acres of turf to maintain. With a $15,000 grant from the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, CSD hired and trained students to help survey, monitor and adjust school water schedules based on the root zone, type of grass, shade, soil type and evaporation rate. In July 2014, the district used 16.5 million gallons less than in July 2012 and 9.5 million gallons less than in July 2013. 

RADON TESTING: The District was recently honored by the Utah Division of Environmental Quality for its radon-testing program. CSD is the only district in Utah that regularly tests schools for radon with all buildings tested at least every two years.

NO IDLING: On Earth Day, 2016 Canyons became the first school district in Utah to go idle free at all of its campuses. The campaign kicked off early in the morning at Ridgecrest elementary school where no-idling signs were installed and students greeted drivers with placards, informational pamphlets and window clings to place in vehicles. Eventually, signs were placed at all Canyons schools and no-idling pledges were sent home with students, encouraging parents to voluntarily pledge to “turn their key and be idle free.”
When it comes to matters of money, Canyons District is in good hands. For the eighth ybudget.pngear running, the District has received a Meritorious Budget Award from the Association of School Business Officials International.

The award recognizes CSD’s commitment to the highest standards of school budgeting.

“School business officials are responsible for ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, and that the district budget reflects student priorities and needs,” said ASBO International Executive Director John Musso in a statement. “This award recognizes districts that have made it clear they want students at the center of their fiscal plan and vision.”

Canyons, under the leadership of Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, also routinely earns the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association. The Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is the association’s highest award in government budgeting. It recognizes Canyons’ budget as an outstanding policy document, financial plan, operations guide, and communications device.

Canyons also has maintained a sterling AAA bond rating, which has a bearing on the District’s ability to affordably bond to pay for upgrades to aging school buildings. A high rating is like having perfect credit, which translates to low interest rates and millions in savings to taxpayers.
Can adding daylight to children’s daily diet of reading, writing and arithmetic boost student achievement? 170906 Hillcrest commons.jpg

It may sound far-fetched, but “daylighting” — or the addition of windows, skylights and full spectrum lighting — is catching on as a powerful and relatively inexpensive way to improve the learning environment at schools. Motivated by research showing how light is critical for the productivity and well-being of students and school employees, the Canyons Board of Education has proposed a tax-rate-neutral bond that, among other things, would be used to add large windows and skylights to 18 elementary schools in all corners of the District. 

When Canyons was created, it received aging schools from a previous school district. Some have so many safety, seismic and other structural and technological deficiencies, according to a group of independent engineers, that they need to be rebuilt. “Learning can only happen in an environment where children feel cared for, secure and comfortable,” says CSD’s Facilities Director Rick Conger.

Other schools still have years of life in them, but were designed in such a way that they don’t allow in much light. These schools were built in the 1960s and 1970s at a time when open classrooms were in vogue, explained CSD’s Facilities Director Rick Conger. Classrooms back then were divided by partitions or bookshelves, instead of walls, giving them a cozy living-room-like atmosphere conducive to hands-on, collaborative learning. As such, light was able to easily filter through the school.

But over the years, as teachers found the open design to be noisy and disruptive, walls were added, thereby closing many classrooms off to fresh air and natural light. “Open designs still have a place in education,” notes Conger. “There’s actually been a resurgence of interest in group learning and experiential forms of instruction. But the key is building classrooms to support all types of instruction, including group learning and traditional lectures. Today’s designs feature moveable partitions and modular furniture. They are built for flexibility.”

Today’s schools also are constructed to infuse classrooms with loads of light. While research on non-traditional forms of instruction is mixed, there’s growing consensus on the benefits of light.  

A recent study published in the Building and Environment Journal found that classroom design choices, such as lighting, can affect a child’s academic progress over a year by as much as 25 percent. In another 2003 study, cited by the U.S. Department of Education, classrooms with the most daylight had a 20 percent better learning rate in math and 26 percent improved rate in reading when compared to classrooms with little to no natural light. 

There’s also data suggesting large windows with views of outdoor greenery can lower the stress and mental fatigue of students and improve the productivity of teachers. And that’s without considering the indirect environmental health benefits of newer, more energy efficient lighting fixtures. 

Light, of course, makes it easier to perceive what’s going on around us. It controls the body’s circadian system, or sleep-wake cycles, and has an influence on the body’s secretion of hormones affecting cognitive performanceScreen_Shot_2017-10-04_at_1.13.40_PM.png, writes Anjali Joseph, Ph.D. for the Center for Health Care Design. For these reasons, and more, hospitals are required by federal law to have windows in all patient rooms. he LSC deleted the requirement for windows or doors to the outside in patient sleeping rooms all-together, because the te

“When paired with evidenced-based instruction, well-designed school environments can positively influence student learning,” says CSD’s Instructional Supports Director Amber Roderick-Landward. 

In about a month, Canyons District voters will head to the polls where they’ll be asked to consider supporting a $283 mvoter.jpgillion, tax-rate-neutral bond that would be used to rebuild or remodel seven aging schools, build a new school to accommodate growth, and add front office security and accessibility upgrades and/or skylights and windows for more natural light at 18 elementary schools. In all, more than 17,000 children at 27 schools in Cottonwood Heights, Sandy, Draper, Midvale, and the town of Alta would be impacted.

Whatever CSD residents decide, we want their decisions to be informed by the facts, which is why we’ve made information available on a special website: www.bond.canyonsdistrict.org. It’s also important that they vote.

There are multiple ways to perform your civic duty in Utah, making it more convenient than ever. You can vote by mail (all registered voters in Salt Lake County receive mail-in ballots) vote early in person, or vote in person on Election Day. But in order to voter, you must first register.

How to Register to Vote

You can find out if you’re already registered to vote by typing your current address into the voter information fields at this website: https://vote.utah.gov/vote/menu/. If you aren’t registered, or have moved since the last time you voted, you can register online at this same website as long as you have a Utah driver’s license or state ID. If you don’t have a Utah driver’s license — maybe you’ve recently relocated from another state — you can still register online, but you’ll have to print out a form and mail it in. You also can go to your county clerk’s office and register in person.

What’s the Deadline to Register?

The last day to register for mail-in votes is on Tuesday, Oct. 10. But you have until Oct. 31 to register online to vote in person. 

Where Do I Vote?

Here’s a link to polling places: https://slco.org/clerk/elections/voter-information/election-day-vote-center/. Voters may vote at any of the Vote Centers listed at this website. Vote Centers will be open on Election Day (Nov. 7, 2017) from 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. Don’t forget to bring a valid form of identification.

How to Vote by Mail?

Here’s a link to a quick video that explains the mail-in voting process:

https://youtu.be/JSOa3ufqOBc

22042279_10154655079026580_278411027403572907_o.jpgIt's officially fall in Canyons District — that special time of year when the leaves start to change, the sun sinks out of the sky earlier each day, and the unmistakable sight of campaign signs dot the valley.

As Tuesday, Sept 26 marks National Voter Registration Day, the advent of fall means something new for Canyons students who are 18 — the legal age to vote. This November will be the first time 364 Canyons students will have the opportunity to make a choice in the upcoming election. From mayoral candidates to a $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond proposal by Canyons District, those Canyons students will have their voices heard with their votes this year.

"I plan to register," said Hillcrest High senior Boston Iacobazzi. "I think it's just great to have a voice and know you can influence something with your right to vote rather than just experiencing it and not having any say in what's going on."

National Voter Registration Day is a national holiday that was first observed in 2012. It is always held on the fourth Tuesday of September. The aim of the holiday is to motivate Americans to register to vote before they miss the deadline and lose eligibility to vote in the election. Individuals can register online, at vote.utah.gov, or by mailing in a voter registration ballot available at city and county offices.

In Salt Lake County this year, the deadline for registering by mail is Oct. 10. Online registration is available until Oct. 31. Voters can request mail-in ballots until Nov. 2. The general election takes place on Nov. 7.

One item on the ballot this year is a $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond proposed by Canyons District to rebuild and renovate its aging schools.

If voters approve the bond on Nov. 7, the District will rebuild Brighton and Hillcrest high schools; Union Middle; Midvalley and Peruvian Park elementary schools and a White City-area elementary school. The Canyons Board of Education also approved a plan to build a new elementary school in west Draper; renovate a significant part of Alta High, including the addition of a state-of-the-art auditorium and gymnasium; replace portables with classrooms at Corner Canyon High, remodel offices at six elementary schools; and install windows and skylights at 18 elementary schools.

Canyons' 18-year-old students have a special insight into the needs of their schools, says Corner Canyon senior Emily Boyce. Boyce says she is excited about making a difference with her vote.

"Unlike the adults that make the decisions, we actually go here and we have classes in portables," Boyce said. "We actually know what is going on in this school and that could help future classes have a better place."

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF BONDS

 pdfDownload Arguments and Rebuttals as a PDF

The Canyons Board of Education, based on years of feedback from parents, students, teachers and community supporters, seeks to continue building momentum in the District’s efforts to modernize and upgrade schools in the cities of Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta. Voters are asked to approve a $283 million tax-rate-neutral  general-obligation bond to fund the construction of new buildings for the Hillcrest and Brighton high school communities; a significant renovation, including the addition of a gymnasium and state-of-the-art auditorium at Alta High; a rebuild of Union Middle and Peruvian Park and Midvalley elementary schools; the construction of new schools in west Draper and the White City area; and to provide remodeled offices and/or natural-lighting features at 18 elementary schools throughout the District. As parents have expressed concern for the safety of their children while at school, the District has responded by creating this innovative and ambitious facility-improvement plan that concurrently addresses projected student-enrollment growth and the security and seismic issues of aging buildings. The most recent analysis of the District’s school buildings revealed approximately $342 million in repair and safety upgrade needs. Bonding is the least expensive way to get ahead of those need because it enables the District to complete projects before interest and construction rates rise further. This forward-thinking measure also advances the community’s expressed desire for aesthetically pleasing and modern schools, not only to deliver a technology-driven, 21st century education to the District’s 34,000 students, but also to provide welcoming and accessible workplaces for teachers, principals, custodians, aides, and other support staff members. Proceeds from the bond will go only toward the construction or renovation of Canyons District schools. The repayment plan has been structured so that property taxes will not increase. The established priority list of improvement projects was created with an eye toward positively impacting the maximum number of students at all grade levels. In all, these improvements will benefit about 17,000 students in all corners of the District. As another benefit to taxpayers: Canyons District is among the top 1 percent of school districts nationally that have been able to maintain a AAA credit rating, which is comparable to a perfect personal credit score.  This will enable the District to borrow money at the lowest possible interest rates, and at a rate less than projected construction-cost inflation. Neighborhoods also are positively impacted by new and renovated schools. Property values of homes go up and communities are revitalized. Approval by a majority of voters would ensure that, in just a few years after the founding of the District in 2009, nearly all of the District’s schools would have either been significantly remodeled or rebuilt entirely. To be sure, this tax-rate-neutral funding plan for new and renovated schools advances Canyons District’s stated mission of inspiring greater student achievement, promoting classroom innovation, fully engaging and strengthening communities, providing stellar customer service, and remaining fiscally responsible on behalf of all stakeholders.

Board of Education of Canyons School District

REBUTTAL:

Yes, our district has seismic and safety deficiencies; our Board, with the support of the first bond referendum, has made great progress in correcting them since the district was formed.  

Let us run the numbers:  $342M in current deficiencies, $283M Bond referendum, and $325.8M in proposed projects.  So what will the value of the deficiencies be in 7 years?  The math cannot tell us. 

As I prepare this argument, proposed projects total $325.8M.  Some of the additional money will come by issuing the bonds at a higher interest rate, and receiving a rebate from the issuer because the district will pay more interest than the AAA Rating would suggest.  More will come from the Capital Assessment tax increment, now generating about $21M annually. 

Issuing bonds for major improvements is common for public agencies.  The result of these district wide projects, and an anticipated 50 year life of the projects, does two things: 1) it defers the cost to the future users – I am in agreement that the term is only 20 years for each issuance; and 2) 45 years from now there will be a bubble of expense to replace this generation of new schools over a 10 year period, costing over $600M in today’s dollars.

I seek to show you the part of the plan not disclosed by the district’s arguments and material.  If you still choose to support the bond, at least you are making an informed choice.  Please vote against this bond.

Steve Van Maren

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ARGUMENT AGAINST THE BONDS

Voters:

I am opposed to the bond referendum in its current form.  All proposed projects are appropriate, but many of them would be completed even if the bond fails, and some sooner, because they are small projects covered by the Capital portion of your property tax.  The plan shows these small projects to demonstrate activity in schools across the district; the big money will go to a new school, the school rebuilds, and major remodeling at Alta High.

While the School Board is not lying to you about keeping your Bond tax rate the same, they are misleading you, and you will pay more for the debt starting the first year the bonds are issued until about 2023, after the Old JSD Debt is retired.  The tax to pay a bond is based on the principle & interest that is required to pay the bond.  The revenue needed is divided by the taxable valuation of the district to calculate the tax rate.  This tax rate can Go Up or down, based on the changes to property values.  There is no Truth in Taxation hearing when those rates need to go up; this election is your only vote, and will impact your taxes for the next 20 years.  When outside factors cause the valuation of the district to go down, property values drop, so the tax rate to repay the bonds will go up, regardless of the intent of the board.

The District leadership intends to keep the tax rate level for at least 5 years.  To do this they are relying as much on an increase in assessed valuation as retiring existing bonds to finance the additional bonds.  This means the money you pay will go up when your personal assessed valuation goes up.  They also expect that this plan will not be sufficient in the first 5 years to pay the full cost of the new bonds.  They plan, as they did for the first district bond, to make up any short-fall from the Capital property tax, thus reducing the amount available for incidental smaller projects, and routine capital expenses like copiers and school busses.  And there is a built in intent to use $4M per year for 5 years for projects identified in the bond spend plan.

The current budget was adopted with an increase in your school taxes, with legislative authorization.  For the last couple of years, Canyons has received more from the tax line “Canyons Equal Cap Outlay” than was collected within the district.  The legislature allowed, and expected, the districts to set their certified tax rate at a level to continue receiving the same amount of funding this year as last year.  The District leadership chose to show the increase in the General Fund, reducing the Capital allocation.  I objected at the budget hearing without success.   This choice reduced the ongoing amount available for routine Capital uses, but insured the teacher salary increases. 

Please vote against this proposal to issue bonds.

Steve Van Maren

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REBUTTAL:

While Canyons District’s appreciates Mr. Steve Van Maren’s statement that all projects are appropriate, his assertion that many projects would be completed if the bond proposal is not approved by voters is simply incorrect. The major construction projects planned at Brighton, Hillcrest and Alta high schools cannot be done in a timely manner — or at all — if the bond proposal is not successful. Furthermore, while the District proposes to complete the school-improvement projects by 2023, Mr. Van Maren offers no alternative or schedule on how the projects could be completed without proceeds from bond issuances.

The District is committed to a tax-rate-neutral bond. It must be understood the Salt Lake County Assessor’s office appraises homes on an on-going basis. When a home’s value is appraised higher, the taxes owed will increase; conversely, when the home’s value decreases, the taxes due will decrease. Indeed, the District maintains the tax rate, but it does not control increases or decreases in appraised home values. In addition, CSD has kept its 2010 promise to not increase the tax rate while issuing bonds to build and modernize schools. In fact, the rate decreased. To be sure, the very same tax-rate-neutral promise stands for the 2017 bond proposal.

As for the countywide equalization program, these funds were used to grant an unprecedented pay increase for our dedicated teachers. Even with this adjustment, the District’s overall tax rate decreased by 3 percent and is at the lowest rate in the District’s nine-year history.

Board of Education of Canyons School District

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING:

The Board of Education of Canyons School District shall conduct a public meeting on October 17, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at 9361 South 300 East, Sandy, Utah to hear arguments for and against the issuance of the Bonds. 

The City of Midvale has officially expressed support for a school improvement bond that Canyons District is asking voters to consider on Election Day. 

“The City Council feels it is in the best interests of the City and its residents to support the Bond Proposal,” which would generate funds without raising taxes to “rebuild and remodel several schools as well as install windows and skylights for natural lighting at several more schools,” reads a resolution approved by the Midvale City Council on Sept. 19. The resolution was signed by all five council members and Mayor JoAnn Seghini. 

Canyons District has made strides toward addressing $650 million in repair and safety upgrade needs inherited from a predecessor school district in 2009. Next fall’s completion of the remodel of Indian Hills Middle will be the 13th and final project promised to voters as part of a 2010 bond. Passing a second bond would allow the District to improve and modernize an additional 27 schools benefitting 17,000 children, while adequately planning for growth. 

“We're only as good as the promises we keep, and only together can we make good on the promise of public education: providing all children with the resources they need to grow into healthy, independent and contributing adults.”
— CSD Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe

August, 2017 marked an important milestone for Canyons School District: The grand opening of two new schools, Midvale Middle and Alta View. With completion of these rebuilds and the remodel underway of Indian Hills Middle, CSD will have fulfilled the $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010. We’ll have done it without raising taxes, while maintaining our AAA bond rating and in keeping with our promise to residents of the five communities who, in 2007, voted to create CSD and who continue to support us in building an achievement-oriented District of distinction.
 
It’s an accomplishment for which we should all be proud. Recognizing that strong communities are essential to building a bright future for our students, the Board of Education set out in 2010 to “turn dirt” in every corner of the District. Thanks to all of you, we were able to undertake an ambitious construction and renovation schedule that has had a positive impact for all Canyons District schools and students.
 
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Notice of Opportunity to Submit Pro/Con Arguments Regarding Proposed School District Bond

On Aug. 22, 2017, the Board of Education of Canyons School District (the “District”) adopted a resolution calling a bond election for Nov. 7, 2017. Pursuant to Title 59, Chapter 1, Part 16 of the Utah Code, any eligible voter within the District may submit an argument for or against such bonds for inclusion in certain postings with information regarding the bonds.  Anyone desiring the opportunity to submit an argument must contact the Business Administrator of the District, as the designated election officer, by close of business on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 by phone at 801-826-5040 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or in person at the District’s offices, 9361 S. 300 East. Such arguments must meet all the criteria outlined in 59-1-1604 of the Utah Code Annotated 1953, as amended. Questions regarding this process can be directed to the Business Administrator as specified above. 

As the sun sets on Midvalley Elementary's 60th year, a new dawn arises for the Junior Huskies.

Small180926_KG_Playground.jpgSmall180926 KG PlaygroundBuilt in 1957 when a piece of candy cost .5 cents, frisbees were all the rage, and most of the area surrounding the school was farmland, Midvalley now serves a diverse and growing suburban population, and is in need of an upgrade—which it will soon be getting when it’s rebuilt with proceeds from a $283 million, voter-approved bond.

No time is being wasted on the project, the first of four elementary schools to be constructed with the bond funds. NJRA Architects have been busy designing the new, two-story school with input from teachers, students, and patrons. Families and neighboring homeowners were invited to preview the preliminary plans this past week.

The architects intend to use a similar design to that deployed in other communities, which saves taxpayer funds. The plans include large skylights that allow for natural light to reach all floors, technologically-equipped classrooms, a brightly-colored kindergarten playground, and a faculty lounge that opens onto an outdoor courtyard. small180926 Faculty Patio

small180926 Faculty PatioSafety is a big factor in the design and great care will be taken to situate the building in such a way as to provide administrators with a clear view of entrances and exits while also making it easy for emergency responders to access the campus. The new school will have a security vestibule that will require all visitors to be seen by school staff before they enter the building. In addition, the building will be equipped with state-of-the-art mechanical and electrical systems and voice amplification equipment for teachers in the classroom.

The building will be built on the southeastern edge of the campus so as to minimize disruptions for students and allow them to stay in the existing school building during construction.

Crews are anticipated to break ground this coming spring, and the projects is expected to be completed in time for the 2020-2021 school year.


Construction crews are busy working on projects throughout the District, and one more elementary school will soon be joining the list. The Canyons Board of Education voted unanimously on July 17 to begin rebuilding Midvalley Elementary as the first of three elementary schools in the District to be rebuilt.

NJRA Architects will be designing the new building, and construction is anticipated to begin in April, 2019. The new school is expected to open for the 2020-2021 school year. As part of a $283 million bond approved by voters in 2017, three elementary schools in Canyons district will be rebuilt and a new elementary school in west Draper will be built. Peruvian Park and a White City school will also be rebuilt.

Canyons’ administration proposed choosing Midvalley as the first project because it is the oldest of the three buildings, has ADA issues, needs roof repairs, and will be the easiest to build onsite while students are in school during the 2019-2020 school year. Also, it can help absorb growth in west Midvale.

Midvalley originally opened in 1957. According to industry standards, an assessment of the school shows that the cost to repair the building exceeds 68 percent of the cost to replace the building. The new school will be built onsite while students continue to attend the old school.

For Principal Brian McGill, the long-awaited renovation of Alta High is personal.

2d9861f7dfa371a841ce6730b641ed6c_XL.jpgTwenty-seven years ago, he walked the same halls that his students walk today — and he’s thrilled to see how the new additions will add to the culture and climate of the school. "Even as a student, one of the things I loved the most about this school is the sense of tradition and a drive for excellence,” McGill said at a June 7 groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction. “It’s a place that doesn’t settle for second best, whether it’s in the arts, academics or on the athletic field. This is A-Town! It’s how it’s always been — and how it will always be."

To officially kick off construction, McGill, in front of a cheering crowd gathered for the groundbreaking celebration, hopped in a massive earth-mover and pulled some levers to make a giant steel claw scoop up and dump a bucket of sand.  

Joining McGill in celebrating the improvement project were members of the Hawks’ student council, drum line, color guard, and cheerleading squad. Also in attendance were parents, alumni, teachers, members of the Canyons Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe, other District administrators, Sandy Mayor Kurt Bradburn, Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, and Canyons Education Foundation Board Members Suzanne Harrison and Greg Summerhays.

Alta is among the first of several improvement projects to be completed with funds from a 2017 voter-approved bond. Work also starts this summer on rebuilds of Hillcrest and Brighton high schools. A groundbreaking for the Hillcrest project was held on May 31, and a celebration for the beginning of the Brighton project will take place at the school on Thursday, Aug. 9 at 5:30 p.m.

“With all of our schools, special care is taken to involve students, parents, teachers and the broader community in the planning process,” remarked Board President Sherril H. Taylor. “We take pride in building schools that reflect the communities they serve and that serve those communities well.”

The Alta High remodel will be completed in phases over two years so as to allow students to stay inside the building. “This is going to be a complex project to do,” said Canyons District’s Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, expressing appreciation for careful attention that VCBO Architects and Hughes Construction have given the project. “We’re basically building a school on top of a school, while holding school. That’s quite a challenge and these guys are going to do it while making sure everything is safe for all involved.”

Among major additions to take shape during the first phase of construction are a new field house and 1,400-seat Performing Arts Center, which will be configured to capitalize on mountain views. A new commons area will be a space where students can gather to make new traditions. The ceiling of the commons area will be lifted to 35 feet, and the new open space will be illuminated by natural light. Traffic flow will be improved, making it easier for students, employees, and visitors to safely enter and exit the campus. 

“From day one, the focus of the design has been about creating the best learning environment for our students and a great work environment for teachers,” McGill said. “I hope you’re as thrilled as I am with the plans for the school, which will stand as a testament to our community’s investment in education for at least the next 40 years.”

See more on Facebook or the Alta High groundbreaking photo album. 
A new era of great heights is on the horizon for the Alta High Hawks. 

A groundbreaking celebration to cheer the start of work on a major two-year renovation at Alta High will be Thursday, June 7. All Alta students, teachers, parents, volunteers, alumni, and boosters are invited to the 5:30 p.m. reception and 6 p.m. ceremony at the school, 11055 S. 1000 East. 

No time has been wasted starting on the major renovation project, which is funded by the $283 million bond voters approved in November. Construction crews have already started site work on the northwest corner of campus where a 1,400-seat performing arts center will be built. By January 2020, the state-of-the-art center is scheduled to be complete and ready for productions.

Crews also will soon begin work on the Hawk Fieldhouse immediately north of the football stadium. By next summer, Alta students in activities ranging from football to marching band will be able to practice on an turf-covered indoor field. The second-level gallery of the fieldhouse, which will have a 30-foot ceiling, also will feature windows facing the football field so guests can watch Friday Night Lights action out of the chilly fall air.

In addition to the new performing arts center, the remodel also calls for the construction of a black box theater where the current auditorium is located. Among other upgrades, several offices will be relocated, the ceiling in the commons area will be raised to about 35 feet, and windows will be added on the front of the building and throughout the entrance to bring in an abundance of natural light. A security vestibule will guide visitors to the Main Office before they can gain access to the hallways. 

A new red, grey and glass façade on the front of the performing arts center will be replicated along the front of the current building, adding to the school’s curb appeal. In addition, a new marquee and electronic sign will be placed at the corner of 11000 South and 100 East to inform the community about Alta High events and student accomplishments. 

The renovation project is being designed by VCBO Architecture. The general contractor is Hughes Construction.

If rebuilding a high school is a major undertaking, try tackling three at once. This summer, construction crews will begin work on rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools along with a major renovation of Alta High.

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 2.19.08 PM.pngArchitectural firms, with input from students, parents, employees and community leaders, have been hard at work shaping plans for the improvement projects — the largest and most complicated of many more to be financed by the $283 million bond approved by voters in 2017. School communities were given a sneak preview of the plans at Open House events in April, and the Board of Education has been receiving regular progress reports in open meetings.  


“This is such an exciting time for the District,” says Canyons District Board of Education President Sherril H. Taylor. “We’re not just building schools, we’re building communities. With the completion of these projects, all of our high schools will be brought up to a high-quality facilities standard. The safety and technological upgrades will improve the learning environments for generations of students, including the children of those now enrolled. It’s a momentous undertaking, and one that wouldn’t be possible without our patrons.”

The high schools will be built in phases over 2-3 years so as to allow them to remain in operation during the construction. Tackling all three at once is ambitious, but in order to keep costs contained, it was imperative to get to work as quickly as possible, says CSD’s Business Administrator Leon Wilcox.

Construction costs have soared, and are expected to continue to rise in the near future, Wilcox says. “We want to lock-in costs now on the largest and most complicated bond projects.”

Each project varies according to the priorities established by the school communities. But among common focuses are school safety, sustainability, and futuristic thinking. Wilcox says, “We’re building these schools to last and to accommodate the rapidly changing technological demands and instructional practices of modern classrooms.”

Careful attention is also being paid to preserve recent investments, such as the schools’ new football stadiums. Taking cues from research on the health and learning benefits of natural light, large windows and skylights are planned for commons areas and classrooms.

Since Canyons’ inception, the District has worked to address the safety and technological deficiencies of the aging buildings it received from a previous school district while also planning for growth. The 13th and final project financed with proceeds from a bond approved by voters in 2010 — the renovation of Indian Hills Middle — will be completed in time for start of the 2018-2019 school year.

Hundreds braved the early evening heat Thursday to celebrate the beginning of construction on a complete rebuild of Brighton High School. collagebhsgroundbreakingParents, alumni, members of the Cottonwood Heights City Council, Canyons District administrators, Brighton’s High’s principal, teachers and members of Canyons’ Board of Education came to celebrate this milestone for the Bengal community with a ceremonial turning of dirt. collagebhsgroundbreaking.jpg

But most of all, there were students. From the band and cheer squad who performed the school’s Fight Song to the football players who put away the chairs, Brighton’s students filled the air with cheers in eager anticipation for the remake of their campus. “Any decisions we have made about the design of this new school has been with the students in mind,” Brighton Principal Tom Sherwood said. “The physical, emotional and educational welfare of students will always be at the forefront of our decision making.”

Brighton High is among three CSD high schools to be rebuilt or remodeled starting this summer with funds from a $283 million bond approved by voters in 2017. The bond will also be used to rebuild three other schools and build one new elementary school in west Draper, as well as school improvement projects.

After opening its doors in 1969, Brighton is fast approaching its 50th birthday — but a lot has changed in 50 years. “When this school was built, the state-of-the-art technology was black and white TVs,” Sherwood said. MHTN Architects and builders from Hogan and Associates Construction will use modern techniques to build a new school that is equipped to educate students in a modern age.

The new home of the Bengals will be built in phases over three years, starting with construction of a new auditorium, arts and CTE program spaces, where the existing school sits. Throughout the project, workers will be “building a new school on top of the old school, while still having school,” said Canyons Business Administrator Leon Wilcox.

Space is a premium on the campus, and there will be challenges during the build, most notably limited parking. But Wilcox said when the new school is completed, students and employees will have more parking space than they do now.

Other design features include a line of sight down the hallways for administrators and capabilities to lock down classrooms with the push of a button, in case of emergency. The school will have large windows and skylights to bring natural light into the commons area and classrooms, with an emphasis on small-group collaboration. Efforts to preserve elements of Brighton’s history are under way, including circular design elements that harken back to the school’s beloved circular halls.

Individuals with ideas on the pieces of Brighton’s heritage they would like to save are invited to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with their thoughts and contributions. So many people have fond memories of the school, said Canyons Board of Education 2nd Vice President Amber Shill. “My own family is very attached to this place. As the mother of four children who have graduated from here, or who will soon attend here, I feel privileged to take part in its future.”

Over the past half-century, alumni of Brighton have gone on to be accomplished scholars, athletes, government and industry leaders, artists and contributors to their communities. Canyons School District Vice President Nancy Tingey told the crowd she’s confident many more will join them over the coming years. “With the rebuild of the school, future generations of students will build memories here, too. … Whether your children are involved in sports, whether they have an affinity or math or passion for science, they will find in this school a welcoming place to thrive.”

Members of the community came to show support to the new school. Canyons Superintendent Dr. James Briscoe, Canyons Board of Education President Sherril Taylor, as well as members Steve Wrigley, Clareen Arnold, Mont Millerberg, and Shill and Tingey, who represent the Brighton area and feeder schools, were there, as well as Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, Utah School Board member Katherine Riebe and members of the Canyons Education Foundation.

“None of this would be possible without your support,” Shill told the audience gathered at the school. “This is possible because of those who had the vision to create this school district and the voters who showed confidence and trust in the Board of Education. This trust is not taken lightly.”

 

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