Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Canyons district board has chosen James Briscoe, superintendent of DeKalb Community Unit School District No. 428 in DeKalb, Ill. to lead the district as the new superintendent, Tuesday, April 29, 2014.
Canyons names new schools superintendent
Education » Longtime administrator from Illinois says he likes collaboration.
First Published Apr 29 2014 07:05 pm • Last Updated Apr 29 2014 10:54 pm

A longtime superintendent from Illinois will be the next leader of the Canyons School District, the district’s board decided Tuesday afternoon.

The board unanimously voted to appoint James Briscoe, superintendent of the DeKalb Community Unit School District No. 428 in DeKalb, Ill., as the new leader of Canyons. Briscoe, who earned his doctorate of education at Northern Illinois University, has headed the 6,200-student DeKalb district for six years.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

He will take over the top spot at Canyons, Utah’s newest school district, with more than 33,000 students, on July 1.

"I’m so excited about this opportunity because of the hard work that’s gone into creating this new school district," Briscoe, 54, told district employees and parents gathered for the vote Tuesday. "They took a risk on a guy from Illinois, outside of Chicago, so I want to thank them for taking that risk because I really felt it was a good match."

Briscoe beat out two other finalists for the job: Craig Hammer, executive director of secondary schools, Washington County School District in St. George; and Kathryn McCarrie, assistant superintendent and chief performance officer for the Canyons School District.

Briscoe takes the spot left open by former superintendent David Doty, who resigned in June to lead an education reform organization.

Briscoe will make a base salary of $200,000. That’s an increase from the base salary of $185,000 that Doty earned, but still not the highest in the state.

Board member Chad Iverson said he believes Briscoe will bring insight to the district.

"I think he will also bring new blood, new ideas and new energy from some place outside the state, which I think is a tremendous opportunity we have as a district," Iverson said.

Board member Tracy Scott Cowdell assured community members that the board hopes to continue the work it started with Doty.

story continues below
story continues below

Doty was the district’s first superintendent. Canyons officially split from the Jordan School District following a controversial public vote in 2007, becoming the first new Utah district in nearly a century.

Since its creation, the district has become known for innovation in certain areas, such as offering advanced and honors high school diplomas and, recently, reconfiguring the grades housed in its schools.

"We’re not going to let up," Cowdell said Tuesday. "We’re going to keep the momentum. We’re not going to back down."

"What we’re hoping Dr. Briscoe will do is analyze what we’re doing and see what we can do better," Cowdell added.

Briscoe said he likely will spend his first three months on the job continuing to learn about the district and its programs.

"We’ll look at what’s working and not working and then we’ll work together to [develop] strategies and programs to help us connect the dots," Briscoe said.

He described his management style as collaborative and professional. As superintendent, Doty became known for his vocal communication style, and he drew both strong criticism and praise.

"I want to learn and listen as much as I want to lead," Briscoe said Tuesday. "I will make tough recommendations when I need to, but I guarantee I will get the input of parents, teachers, possibly students, and principals before those recommendations go forward."

Briscoe chose early retirement in Illinois because of pension reform in that state. Before heading the DeKalb district, Briscoe spent six years as superintendent of the Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 in Illinois. He also has worked as a school administrator and was a sixth-grade social studies and math teacher.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.