Canyons School District

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Canyons School District is a Salt Lake County school district in Utah, United States, which serves the communities of Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale and Sandy. Residents of those communities voted to create the district in 2007, making Canyons District the first school district to be formed in the state in almost a century. Canyons has approximately 33,000 students in 44 schools.[1] There are 29 elementary schools, eight middle schools, five high schools, and four special programs schools, including one technical school, a special education school and a high school for adults in prison. The district covers 192 square miles and employs 6,000 people.

The district officially started operating on July 1, 2009, with students attending Canyons schools for the first time that fall.[2][3]

Foundation of the district[edit]

Canyons District was created after residents in the communities of Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale and Sandy voted in 2007 to leave the Jordan School District, which was the largest district in the state at the time. Dr. David Doty, a former high school Spanish teacher, and Assistant Commissioner and Director of Policy Studies for the Utah System of Higher Education, was chosen by the new board of education to be the district's first superintendent.

On June 30, 2013, Doty resigned his position to join a Utah-based education consulting firm. He was replaced July 1, 2014, by Dr. James Briscoe, a veteran educator with 12 years of experience as a superintendent of schools in Illinois. Briscoe, who, in his tenure has also filled the roles of high school principal, assistant principal and math and social studies teacher, was chosen at the conclusion of an exhaustive national search, which included three months of community input meetings. Dr. Ginger Rhode, who served as Canyons' Deputy Superintendent for Student Achievement and the Chief Academic Officer since November 2008, acted as interim superintendent from July 1, 2013, to July 1, 2014, when she retired.

Early on in the district's formation, the board of education, superintendent, administrators and teachers established a goal to help Canyons' students become college- and career-ready. To that end, the district embarked on an aggressive plan to remodel aging schools or build where necessary, adapting innovative curriculum and reconfiguring grades in elementary, middle and high school.

Canyons District also established high financial standards and accountability to the public. It received awards for budget excellence in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and successfully campaigned for a $250 million bond to build and renovate schools with the highest possible bond rating from Moody's Investors Service. The district regularly partners with civic and business leaders and maintains an active volunteer program.

Canyons District offices are in Sandy, Utah, located close to world-class ski resorts, a professional soccer stadium, shopping, concert venues, a convention center and other entertainment opportunities. The symbol of the district is three mountain peaks, representative of the mountains in the area.

Canyons School District Board of Education[edit]

The Canyons Board of Education is composed of seven elected community leaders who are responsible for establishing education policy for the children in the district. The Board of Education works to create and implement a vision for public education that is focused on student achievement, innovative practices, community engagement, and customer service. To that end, the Board strives to support a school system that is responsive to patrons and ensures all students are prepared for college and careers when they graduate from high school.

The current members of the board are:

  • Sherril Taylor, who represents District 6, was first elected in 2004 as one of the first seven members to serve on the inaugural Canyons Board of Education. Taylor currently serves as President of the Canyons Board of Education. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Utah State University, a Master of Education degree from Westminster College, and an Administrative Certificate from the University of Utah.
  • Steve Wrigley, who represents District 5, was elected in November 2010. In January 2015, the board unanimously selected Wrigley to serve as the first vice-president of the board. He has a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and a Bachelor of Science in Criminology Counseling from California State University, Fresno. He teaches community Marriage Education classes and is a Certified Public Manager.
  • Nancy Tingey, who represents District 3, was elected in November 2012. In January 2015, the board unanimously selected Tingey to serve as the second vice-president of the board. Tingey earned a Bachelor of Science from Brigham Young University and has been an active parent volunteer in public schools for more than 20 years.
  • Robert Green, who represents District 1, was elected in November 2012. He graduated from Brighton High School in 2000, then earned a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah, and an Associate of Science in Chemistry from Salt Lake Community College.
  • Amber Shill, who represents District 2, was elected in November 2014. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and, for the past 15 years, has volunteered in Canyons District schools, serving on multiple districtwide committees and in leadership capacities on School Community Councils.
  • Clareen Arnold, who represents District 4, was elected in November 2014. She has a Master’s Degree in Education in Administration and Curriculum Development from Azusa Pacific University, and two Bachelor of Science degrees. She also earned an Associate’s Degree in Accounting from Salt Lake Community College.
  • Chad Iverson, who represents District 7, was elected in November 2012. He earned an MBA from the University of Chicago, and graduated summa cum laude from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.

Academics and achievements[edit]

Canyons District students are known for their accomplishments, which span from academic and athletic state championships to scholarships. In 2012, graduating students earned $19.5 million in scholarship offerings and won seven state championships. More than two-thirds of the graduating class earned advanced or honors diplomas, which require students to achieve exemplary scores on the ACT college entrance exam, as well as take additional credits in higher-level mathematics and science and world languages. Since 2010, 1,047 students in the district's program at the Utah State Prison have earned high school diplomas.

The district earned a place on the 2012 College Board's Advanced Placement Honor Roll for student involvement in AP classes. Two of the district's high schools have been included on Newsweek magazine's list of the best high schools in the country. In 2012, Quail Hollow Elementary School became a National Blue Ribbon School, one of three in Utah. During the same year, Midvale Middle School became an International Baccalaureate World School, making it one of two middle schools in Utah with the authorization to offer the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.

The district also offers an online virtual high school, magnet programs to support advanced learners and dual immersion language programs in Mandarin Chinese-English, French-English and Spanish-English.

Facilities and operations[edit]

On June 22, 2010, voters approved a $250 million, tax-neutral bond to finance improvements and new construction in the district. In fall, 2016, construction was completed on Butler Elementary, preserving elements of the school's deep history. A completely rebuilt Mount Jordan Middle School opened in 2015 and new schools Corner Canyon High school and Draper Park Middle school in Draper, as well as Butler Middle school in Cottonwood Heights, were completed in 2013. Midvale Elementary school in Midvale was completed in 2012. Albion Middle School in Sandy was completely renovated in 2012. Construction is currently under way at Midvale Middle School, with completion anticipated in fall, 2017.

Other renovations and upgrades have also taken place, including seismic upgrades, playground updates, cooling system updates and accommodation for ninth-graders in the existing Brighton and Hillcrest high schools as part of a grade re-alignment.[4] At Alta High School, crews added a new entrance; new classrooms; tennis courts; art, robotics, and engineering labs; a Healthy Lifestyles Center equipped with new cardio and exercise machines; a wrestling room; and new sprinkling systems and landscaping.

Newly completed and renovated schools feature details like an emphasis on natural light, state-of-the-art computer labs, large auditoriums, and gymnasiums with elevated tracks. Several schools also have newly built media centers with TV production studios and green-screen capability. Corner Canyon High School features a 4,700-seat sports complex, as well as science and computer labs.

Canyons District maintains more than 5 million square feet in its buildings, nearly 12,000 computers with an average age of about three years, about 350 acres of lawn, and 167 buses.

Assets, bonds and debt[edit]

Canyons School District and Jordan School District entered an arbitration process to divide assets between the two districts after Canyons' creation.[5] As a result of that process, Canyons School District received 41 percent of the overall assets, based on student population. Canyons also agreed to pay 58 percent of a $281 million bond debt — incurred in 2003 by the formerly combined district — until 2022.

The Utah State Legislature passed a bill in 2008 that requires Canyons, Murray, Granite and Salt Lake City school districts to contribute capital funds to Jordan School District.[6][7] Canyons District is required to contribute $3.8 million annually to Jordan until the legislation expires in 2016.[8][9][10]

Outreach and partnerships[edit]

Canyons School District receives support from volunteers and the local community through partnerships that include cities, businesses and nearby colleges. These entities work with the Canyons School District Education Foundation, an independent non-profit organization of volunteer business leaders in the community who donate their time and allocate resources to the district to improve educational opportunities for students.


High schools[edit]

Middle schools[edit]

Elementary schools[edit]

  • Alta View (White City)
  • Altara (Sandy)
  • Bell View (Sandy)
  • Bella Vista (Cottonwood Heights)
  • Brookwood (Sandy)
  • Butler (Cottonwood Heights)
  • Canyon View (Cottonwood Heights)
  • Copperview (Midvale)
  • Crescent (Sandy)
  • Draper (Draper)
  • East Midvale (Midvale)
  • East Sandy (Sandy)
  • Edgemont (Sandy)
  • Granite (Sandy)
  • Lone Peak (Sandy)
  • Midvale (Midvale)
  • Midvalley (Midvale)
  • Oak Hollow (Draper)
  • Oakdale (Sandy)
  • Park Lane (Sandy)
  • Peruvian Park (Sandy)
  • Quail Hollow (Sandy)
  • Ridgecrest (Cottonwood Heights)
  • Sandy (Sandy)
  • Silver Mesa (Sandy)
  • Sprucewood (Sandy)
  • Sunrise (Sandy)
  • Willow Canyon (Sandy)
  • Willow Springs (Draper)


  • CTEC[11]
  • Entrada Adult High School[12]
  • Jordan Valley School


  1. ^ "Official District Web Page". Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  2. ^ Stewart, Kirsten (September 23, 2009). "Canyons District draws high marks from parents". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  3. ^ "Residents generally happy with Canyons School District". KSL-TV. September 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  4. ^ Canyons district bond barely passes. The Salt Lake Tribune. June 24, 2010. Winters, Rosemary.
  5. ^ [1] "Arbitration ruling issued in Jordan School District split". KSL. March 18, 2009.
  6. ^ [2] "Utah State Legislature SB48".
  7. ^ [3] "SL County school districts cry foul over tax increases". Deseret News. August 21, 2009. Stewart, Amy K.
  8. ^ [4] "Utah State Legislature SB175".
  9. ^ [5][dead link] "Equalization repeal law passes". KCPW.
  10. ^ [6] "Help for Jordan District may be on the way". Salt Lake Tribune. March 5, 2010. Schencker, Lisa.
  11. ^ CTEC
  12. ^ Entrada Adult High School

External links[edit]