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Guest opinion: School district split? Remember, you get to decide!

By Tom Macdonald - Special to the Daily Herald | Jun 18, 2022

Courtesy Photo

Tom Macdonald

Much has been said about the possibility of a school district split. Let me share a few of my thoughts.

Should a study be done?

The mayor and the city council voted in favor of having a study done. My reason for agreeing to a study was to evaluate the pros and cons of a district split. I am aware that in 2006, Orem City did a study and the council decided to not pursue the matter. More recently, Alpine School District has also done some studies. These previous studies found that we would negate some savings that are gained from economies of scale. This new study will update those figures and we can let the facts speak.

Is the Alpine School District too large?

I have heard this argument several times, but this argument without supporting analysis is an empty slogan. Everything I am a part of has grown over the past years: my family, the church I belong to, the place where I work, the gym I go to, the city, county, state and our country. No one is speaking about splitting any of those, so size alone is not a determining factor. In fact, there are economies of scale that can be realized when the overhead costs of administration are spread over more people.

Should we have engaged this firm or another firm to do the study?

The simple fact here is that the majority rules. While I and others were concerned about using this group, the majority of the city council were in favor of using them. That is the end of the story. Let’s move forward with a spirit of agreeing to disagree if necessary, but let’s not be disagreeable.

What about the city’s posting of “transparency” on GRAMA request?

Although I had heard about this decision in a newsletter, this was not discussed in any open city meeting, and perhaps there wasn’t a requirement to do so. Regrettably a mistake was made in posting this without proper vetting, but I am glad that it was taken down quickly.

What happens when the study is done?

The mayor, city council and staff will review the findings of the study. The council has agreed to share the details of the study with the public and to meet with concerned citizens after the study has been completed. I will not vote in favor of any tax increase. If a majority of the council recommend that the question of a district split be placed on a ballot, then the citizens of Orem will make the decision.

So, what if it goes on the ballot?

This is where you — the citizens — get to decide. Sadly, thousands of Orem citizens who could participate in the democratic process aren’t even registered to vote. Of those who are registered to vote, only about one-third voted in the 2021 municipal election. This means the minority has made the decision about who will represent them and who will make the decisions for the city we all live in.

I recommend you do what I plan to do: 1. Encourage people you know to get registered to vote and become an informed voter. 2. Study the report when it is issued. 3. Let others know what you think and how you plan to vote. 4. Finally, get out and VOTE!

Tom Macdonald is an Orem City Council member.

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