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Granite School Board votes to close 3 elementary schools

Granite School Board Closure
Martha Harris
/
Granite School District Board of Education members and district superintendent Rich Nye discuss closing Twin Peaks, Spring Lane and Millcreek elementaries during a board meeting at the Granite Education Center on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

The Granite School District Board of Education voted unanimously on Dec. 6 to close three elementary schools. Twin Peaks, Spring Lane and Millcreek elementaries are closing due to declining enrollment numbers, and more schools in the district will likely follow suit in the coming years, according to a district spokesperson.

At a November board meeting, community members gave comments for over an hour about the proposed closures. Most who spoke were concerned and strongly against closing the schools.

Only three community members spoke at the Dec. 6 meeting, and the public hearing section lasted about ten minutes. Of those three community members, two supported closing the schools and expressed their appreciation to the board and district employees. A parent with children at one of the schools slated to close was the only community member who voiced hesitation about the move at the meeting.

Granite Education Association President and Cyprus High math teacher Michele Jones told the board that the association supports closing Twin Peaks, Spring Lane and Millcreek.

“However, this hard decision is the right decision. It is the fiscally responsible decision,” Jones said. “It better utilizes district resources, it supports our teachers and students and it helps create a more vibrant school community and more diverse opportunities for our students.”

Moss Elementary Parent Teacher Association President Sherry Anderson told the board she felt like parents’ concerns were heard during the process of deciding which schools to close. There were three options for which schools to close and in one of those options Moss would be closed instead of Millcreek.

Over the last year, Granite’s population analysis committee has studied the Van Winkle/700 East corridor and made recommendations to the board about which of the elementary schools in the area to close. In November, the committee made a final recommendation to close Twin Peaks, Spring Lane and Millcreek elementaries. After hearing from the public, the board initially voted unanimously during its November meeting to close the three schools, with plans to take the final vote at the December meeting.

During the November meeting, the district’s director of planning and boundaries, Steve Hogan, said that closing Twin Peaks, Spring Lane and Millcreek would get the district close to having about 550 students at each of the elementary schools in the area, which the district believes is the ideal enrollment number.

Twin Peaks has 240 students, Spring Lane has 280 students and Millcreek has 305 students, according to Utah State Board of Education fall enrollment data collected in October. All three schools are capable of having over 500 students, according to a presentation from the population analysis committee.

Hogan said the committee’s recommendation would have the smallest impact on busing and transportation. A different proposal made by the committee would require getting six more buses.

Before unanimously voting to close the three elementary schools, board members shared why they were going to vote to close the schools.

“All indicators say that overall students will benefit from this support this consolidation will bring,” said board member Julie Jackson. “I don't mean to say there won't be sacrifices and growing pains. We’ll work to lighten those where we can. But I truly believe this consolidation will bring about more opportunities for kids to reach their potential as they benefit from more resources and opportunities.”

District spokesperson Ben Horsley said the earliest that the schools would be closed is after the 2022-2023 school year. In addition to voting to close the three schools, the board also voted to change school boundaries to accommodate the closures.

Horsley said teachers at the Twin Peaks, Spring Lane and Millcreek will still have jobs in the district.

“There are plenty of openings and vacancies throughout the district and potentially at these new school locations that are absorbing these specific student populations,” Horsley said. “We would follow the negotiated agreement with our Granite Education Association as we work to place those teachers.”

While a transition committee will be created to help move staff and students to new schools, Horsley said that what will be done with the properties has yet to be decided. He said it’s unlikely that the district would put them up for sale since land is hard to come by. When other schools have been closed, the district has used some of the buildings for continuing education programs or as alternative schools. Leasing the land to the local municipality could be another option.

“We’re working with Millcreek City on potentially using the open space as a dog park and they would take ownership of the property and maintenance of the property. It would still be our property, technically speaking,” Horsley said.

The district is anticipating that it will close up to 12 schools over the next few years because of an aging population and decreased enrollment district-wide.

Granite lost 1,250 students, or about 2.07% of its student body, between the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years, according to fall enrollment data.

Updated: December 7, 2022 at 11:14 AM MST
This story was updated after the Granite School District reached out to clarify a quote from district school board member Julie Jackson.
Martha is KUER’s education reporter.
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