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Alpine School District presents three boundary options for new Lehi elementary

January 9, 2019

The Alpine School District has introduced two additional boundary options for a new school in northwest Lehi after hearing safety concerns about the school’s previously proposed boundary.

The yet-unnamed elementary school will open this fall at 2450 N. 3600 West.

An original proposal for the school would impact Springside Elementary School and Riverview Elementary School in Saratoga Springs, along with River Rock Elementary School and North Point Elementary School in Lehi.

Feedback on online surveys, public boundary presentations and board meetings centered around concerns about students walking along 2100 North and potential hazards such as heavy traffic, fast-moving cars, sidewalk debris and the potential for child abduction that could come along with the route.

“I drive 2100 (North) basically every day and I agree, I don’t think it’s a safe walking route,” Julie King, a member of the Alpine School District Board of Education, said during the board’s study session Tuesday.

Other concerns included students having to cross other schools on their way to their new school and the potential for boundaries to change again as growth continues in the area and boundaries continue to change.

Of 690 respondents to the district’s online survey on the proposed original boundary, 76 percent answered that they were not in support of the proposal.

“Reading all of these comments, you can’t not have sympathy for people whose lives would be affected in one way or another,” John Patten, the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services and K-12, said during the board’s study session.

Patten said the district draws school boundaries based on maintaining a reasonable proximity to a school, keeping neighborhoods together and stabilizing enrollments over time.

Two additional boundary options were presented during the board of education’s meetings Tuesday.

The original proposal has the new school’s boundaries with Club House Drive, Interstate 15, 2100 North and Redwood Road as the school’s perimeter.

A second proposal would take the original proposal, but would keep the Colony Point community at River Rock Elementary School and realign the boundary of Snow Springs Elementary School in Lehi to include the Jordan Willows community. The second option would also include moving a district special education life skills unit from Snow Springs Elementary School to the new school.

A third option would use the Jordan River as a boundary for the new school. That option would leave the boundary at North Point Elementary School mostly unchanged. With the third option, the starting enrollment at the new school is conservatively estimated to be 274 children in the fall.

The original option had the new school starting at 444 students and growing to 565 students in five years, with other schools in the area remaining at an enrollment of about 800 students for next year.

Starting with a small enrollment is a concern, Patten said, especially after the district voted to consolidate Hillcrest and Scera Park elementary schools in Orem in 2017. He said the area around the new school could experience accelerated development in the area with the opening of a new school. An anticipated dual language immersion program at the new school could also draw in additional students.

Discussion on the boundary options began in the district’s afternoon study session and continued into its study session held later in the evening.

The board heard from more than a dozen students during the public comment section of the meeting who brought up concerns regarding school safety and enrollment numbers at schools.

Speakers also brought up concerns about moving the life skills class from Snow Springs Elementary School.

“Their adjustment to a new school would be significantly harder than any of the larger populations of students we are considering moving,” said Britt Wikenson, who addressed the board on support of the Jordan Willows community.

Wikenson said her community is in support of the first boundary option and that 2100 North should be used as a boundary line.

Liz Roper, the chair of the community council at Snow Springs Elementary School, said she’d only heard that the school was involved in the boundary discussions the day before the board of education meeting.

Roper said the Snow Springs Elementary School community was not involved with boundary proposal meetings or the online survey.

“This has just been thrown on us last minute,” Roper said.

Superintendent Sam Jarman asked for patience after information on the second and third boundary options got out before it was intended to be made public Tuesday.

“The meeting that was held where this was discussed was intended to be a confidential meeting with some of the parents leaders to then create this, that would be presented tonight, to go out and we trust you so when we say please don’t share that information yet, it hurts the whole process,” Jarman said.

Board members spoke in support of additional surveying that would include issues such as busing to the new school and moving the life skills class at Snow Springs Elementary School.

Mark Clement, vice president of the Alpine School District Board of Education, cautioned against neighbors framing the boundary proposal in terms of it creating winners and losers.

“Don’t pit one group against another neighborhood,” Clement said. “Pull together to find an option we can unify behind.”

A vote on a boundary was not scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting. The board could vote on the boundaries at its next meeting Jan. 22 at Snow Springs Elementary School.

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