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Parents make their voices heard during Alpine School District meeting about potential split

By Curtis Booker - | Jun 12, 2024

Evan Cobb, Daily Herald file photo

The Alpine School District Education Center is pictured on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in American Fork.

What was initially slated as a 20-minute period for public comment lasted nearly an hour as community members weighed in on a potential split in the Alpine School District during a board of education meeting Tuesday evening.

During the first of two public hearings by the district, nearly two dozen parents, educators and other concerned citizens addressed the school board with their feelings about creating a smaller district or staying together as one.

For months, school board members have wrestled with thoughts of how and whether to divide the district or stay together.

Last month, the district opted to send a two-way split configuration plan to the Utah County clerk for certification. Board members voted 4-3 on the option, which would form one district made up of schools in cities west of Utah Lake and the other comprised of cities to the east from Lehi to Orem.

The board began a 45-day public comment period May 28.

At Tuesday’s meeting, a mixture of thoughts and opinions were expressed to the school board. Some citizens said they’re in favor of a two-way split, while others liked the idea of a three-way split or not breaking off at all.

Concerns arose regarding the use of funding, keeping special programs in place, tension at recent school board meetings, and ensuring that students are at the forefront of whichever decision is made, which ultimately could end up on the November ballot.

Saratoga Springs resident Heather Lambert said she thinks reconfiguration would be more beneficial in the long-run and fears the district may lose its authority if it remains as one. “If we can come together and agree on something that will work for all of our children and give local control, then we can best serve our children to provide them with the programs that they need to succeed,” she said.

Orem parent Michele Sorensen said she wants to see the district stay together. But if a split were to happen, she said, she feels the two-way configuration is the least disruptive to students and least expensive. “I hope that we can navigate this election season and strive to work together as 14 municipalities to give our students the most benefits and advantages together,” Sorenson said.

Saratoga Springs parent Wendy Jensen raised concerns around growth in west-side schools and feels those issues aren’t being addressed fast enough. She thinks a three-way split is needed. “​​Alpine is too big and you have neglected to take care of our kids the way that you should have,” she told the school board. “I’m requesting the district split three ways.”

We are no longer stronger together” she added, referencing the name of a group that supported keeping the district intact in 2022, when Orem looked at breaking away from the fold.

So far, 10 of the 14 cities in the district’s boundaries have voted to start separate districts through interlocal agreements. Those municipalities also must hold separate public hearing meetings throughout the remainder of June and early July.

Alpine School District’s next public hearing is set for 6 p.m. June 25 at Lake Mountain Middle School in Saratoga Springs.

Comments also can be submitted online.

After the 45-day comment period, the school board anticipates making a decision July 16 on whether or not to put a split on the ballot.


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