27 March 2024

Alpine School District Reconfiguration

 The Alpine School District Board has begun a study to explore possible reconfigurations. Here are some of the latest articles about this effort:

MGT and the school district board have presented six options:

  1. Remain as one district
  2. A 2 district split with Lehi, Eagle Mountain, Saratoga Springs, Fairfield, and Cedar Fort forming the west district
  3. A 2 district split with Lehi staying in the east and the other communities the same as Option 2
  4. A 3 district split with the West (Eagle Mountain, Saratoga Springs, Fairfield, Cedar Fort), Central (Lehi, American Fork, Alpine, Highland, Cedar Hills), and East (Pleasant Grove, Orem, Lindon, Vineyard)
  5. A 3 district split similar to Option 4, but with Pleasant Grove in the Central district
  6. A 3 district split with a Lehi only district as the Central option, all communities west of Lehi in the West and all communities east of Lehi in the East
It is the opinion of SmallerSchools.org that the best option on the table for all communities would be Option 4. This would divide the district in the most fair and equitable way, while providing each community the independence they need to care for the students in their district. 

A distant second place option would be Option 2.

If the board fails to put a split option on the ballot, or if the ballot question fails, the school board should at the very least increase the number of school board districts. However, this solution is extremely inadequate considering the massive differences in communities needs and funding options.

A final note, there has always been and always will be opposition to dividing the district from district personnel, including teachers. This is understandable, as it creates some uncertainty for their jobs. However, the benefits of splitting combined with the problematic consequences of staying as one, far outweigh these concerns. 

The main reasons for splitting Alpine School District are these:
  1. The district is likely unable to pass another bond as one whole district. The price tag for a bond is enormous and residents often don't see the bond money in their neighborhood schools. Yet the need for a bond is great - new schools need to be built in the west and old, seismically unstable schools in the east need to be updated. Each side of the district feels that their tax dollars are being spent on the other side of the district.
  2. School board districts are too big. Just to run for school board in ASD is a monumental task. First, the board district boundaries are enormous. Even state representatives at the legislature have fewer residents to represent than a board member in ASD. Second, because school board races are non-partisan, individuals running for board positions don't receive any funding help from a party. This makes it difficult for regular community members to run a successful campaign for office. Additionally, each school board member has to represent an average of 12 schools per board member. Can board members (who are part time) really get to know the needs and issues for 12 schools, including 1 or 2 high schools?
There are certainly other reasons to split the district, but these reasons are extremely important and cannot be ignored or addressed by any other process. A district division option MUST be put on the ballot this fall and the people should vote in favor of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment