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Orem parent group surveys teachers; most opposed to new school district

By Genelle Pugmire - | Jul 11, 2022
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The Alpine School District Education Center is pictured on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in American Fork.
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New teachers watch a presentation during Alpine School District's new teacher orientation at Lone Peak High on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021.

Tuesday night, the Orem City Council will hear from Discovery Education Consultants on what the company found through its feasibility study about Orem potentially breaking from the Alpine School District and having its own school district.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and it is anticipated the council chambers will be full of supporters and opponents of a split ready to speak during the public hearing portion of the program.

The content of the study will be the driving force for the City Council to see if they will vote to have the break from ASD on November’s ballot.

The first of three public meetings begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, allowing DEC the opportunity to present and field presubmitted questions during the question-and-answer portion. Other meetings will take place July 19 and July 28.

While DEC will present its study, there have been other members of the community who have taken it upon themselves to gather information relevant to the topic.

One such group is the StrongerTogether parent group, a registered political issues committee with the state of Utah, which released results of a survey of Orem-only educators regarding the formation of an Orem district. The survey gathered the views of teachers, administrators and other ASD employees working in Orem schools regarding the possible formation of an Orem-only school district. Findings from the survey included:

  • Educators are overwhelmingly opposed (91.5%) to the formation of a separate district.
  • A majority of teachers (84.4%) expressed that they would seek to remain with ASD if voters came out in favor of the Orem district.

There were 400 people who responded to the survey with 371 completing it. Of those responding, 94.75% were aware of the discussion to split from ASD. At the present time, 70.64% said they don’t believe they would ever support an Orem-only school district.

Nearly half of those responding to the survey have been in their positions for more than 12 years. Out of all respondents, 220 or 53% were connected to elementary schools, 48 or 12.94% to junior highs, and 123 or 33.15% to high schools.

The mix of respondents included 75.51% teachers, 13.48% staff, 8.63% student services (nurses, counselors and psychiatrists) and 5.39% administration.

About 48% of respondents reported having worked some portion of their career outside of the Alpine district.

Weighted questions included:

  • What are your reasons for supporting an Orem district?
  • What are your reasons for not supporting an Orem district?

Of the 10 respondents who support an Orem district, 4.9% said it would result in increased support to schools; 4% said a new district would give better opportunities for Orem families; 3.7% said it would be more responsive to teachers’ concerns; 3.1% said it would be more responsive to parents’ concerns; 2.8% said it would be financially stronger; and 2.5% said it would give better opportunities to the individual responding.

There were 344 respondents to the question indicating they don’t support the new district. Of those respondents, 4.92% said it was because there would be reduced resources; 4.59% said a separate district would be financially weaker; 4.26% there would be reduced opportunities for Orem families; 2.92% said there would be less attractive opportunities for the individual responding; 2.5% said there would be less responsiveness to teacher concerns; and 1.81% said there would be less responsiveness to parent concerns.

“Orem schools, students, teachers and residents are best served by staying with Alpine School District,” StrongerTogether stated in a press release announcing the survey results.

In an open-ended questions portion of the survey, teachers shared perspectives on the benefits of being part of a larger district.

“There would be fewer people for me to reach out to for collaboration purposes,” one unidentified teacher wrote. “In my position, I serve 4 schools in Orem every week. There are 10ish other teachers district-wide who hold the same position as me. We collaborate with each other regularly on how to improve in our jobs and on how to help our struggling students. I love having a community of 10+ minds to work so closely with. In an Orem-only district, the teachers I could collaborate with would be reduced to 1, maybe 2, and we would all become weaker teachers because of that. We need the strength of our numbers. Having a group of 10+ minds brings a lot of wisdom and experience to the table that would be lost with an Orem-only district.”

Another teacher shared their experience with the Jordan-Canyons district split.

“I taught school in the Jordan school district after it had split from Canyons. It was a mess! I have learned and grown SO much as a teacher in Alpine District,” the respondent wrote. “Though certainly (not) perfect, Alpine district has AMAZING people and programs in place. We would lose SO many amazing leaders. And we would be in limbo for several years as we try and recreate the things lost in the district split. How many children would slip through the cracks in that time?”

StrongerTogether provided a complete copy of the study, with personal information redacted, to Orem City as well as the Alpine School District. The public may also view survey results at https://www.strongertogether.education/survey-results-ppt.


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