Lehi High School bursting at seams with more than 2,000 students

Students fill the hallways at Lehi High School between classes Friday, August 31, 2012. The Parent Teacher Student Association had a regional meeting that focused on overcrowding issues at the school. MARK JOHNSTON/Daily Herald

LEHI -- As this school year begins, overcrowding is on the minds of many Lehi parents.

At a Lehi PTA Council meeting Tuesday, Alpine School District administrator Mark Pew said there are roughly 2,100 students enrolled at Lehi High School this year. According to Pew, the district will bring in a self-contained satellite building to the high school campus next fall to help deal with the crowding. The unit will have 14 to 18 classrooms along with bathrooms, drinking fountains and lockers.

With so many students, the opportunity to participate in clubs and teams will be limited, which concerned council secretary Sharon Sheffield.

"With such a large school, how are we going to get them involved," Sheffield said. "How are we going to get those kids attached to their school when there's no activities?"

Overcrowding at Lehi also has led to parking problems. Pew said parking would be handled by a school employee this year instead of an outside firm. The hope is this parking attendant will be more inclined to educate the students on where to park instead of just handing out tickets on first offenses.

A new high school, planned for the southeast corner of 3200 North and Center Street, is in the early stages of development but won't be open for students until 2016.

Pew said he understood the interest in and concerns about the new school, its completion date and boundaries, but could give little information.

"What I'm able to say may seem fairly limited, but there are certain things I don't know and there is a level of confidentiality," Pew said. "The important goal is to keep the communication going."

Pew said the district will soon start accepting designs from architectural firms for consideration. Construction is set to begin in 2014 and the school is slated to open two years later. While unlikely, he said there is precedence for speeding up a school's construction plan if the need is compelling.

School boundaries are typically set the winter before the school opens. Initially, surrounding school administrators, city officials and transportation officials meet to come up with a boundary plan. After their recommendations are made, public meetings are held to get additional input.

"The board looks at every single comment that the patrons make. Board members put in many hours reading and rereading those concerns," Pew said.

Others at the meeting asked if after the new high school is built, the district would fail to address continuing problems at the aging Lehi High.

"That hasn't happened in the past, there's no example of that in Alpine district," Pew said. "Improvements will be made to the existing Lehi High throughout the process. Over time you will have a new facility built on the same site like has been done with Pleasant Grove and American Fork."