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Uneven growth in the Alpine School District prompts a look at school boundaries

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Curtis Booker
/
KUER
The headquarters of the Alpine School District in American Fork, Utah, Dec. 12, 2022.

A districtwide boundary study is underway in the Alpine School District to address student enrollment — or lack thereof in some cases.

The study gives the district an opportunity to look at schools that may be experiencing overcrowding. Depending on the results, the solution may call for students to shift to a different school to ensure classrooms are being fully utilized.

Public comment is open, and the school board is scheduled to discuss the potential boundary changes at its Dec. 13 meeting.

Lisa Nelson has two kids who attend Skyridge High School in Lehi. They would be unaffected by any potential change, but she recalls a boundary shift in 2021 that resulted in her kids having to switch to Viewpoint Middle School.

Prior to the 2021-2022 school year, her kids attended Lehi Junior High.

She said the busing situation was tough because of the routes. Often her son would miss the bus to Viewpoint, and she didn't feel comfortable having him cross the Timpanogos Highway.

"Even though there is a light, that's a very dangerous highway and there's no pedestrian bridge," explained Nelson.

Making things even more difficult is the fact that Lisa works 40 minutes away in downtown Salt Lake City.

"We had to call people from our neighborhood to go get them. And so I just feel like the kids that live on the south side of Timp Highway should go to Lehi Junior," Nelson said.

Alpine district currently has 84,667 students enrolled, an increase of 668 from the 2021-2022 school year. That growth isn’t spread evenly, so some schools may be crowded and others may be underutilized. As many as 10 schools could be impacted by the boundary changes, including Viewpoint Middle School, Willowcreek Middle School and Lehi Junior High.

Voters in the November midterms said no to a $595 million bond that would address the needs of current schools and construction for new schools in high growth areas, which means current schools need to work as-is.

“It would be an adjustment of enrollment so that we're really utilizing the rooms that are available in the schools and not needing to add additional portable classrooms, bringing in trailers,” said David Stephenson, executive director of external relations and communications for the district.

Nearly 1,800 students are enrolled at Viewpoint and at Willowcreek, respectively, while only 1,001 students are enrolled at Lehi Junior High, according to the district. That number at LJHS is expected to shrink over the next five years, while both Viewpoint and Willowcreek are expected to increase.

In both new boundary options, more students from the northeast portion of Lehi would go to Lehi Junior High School.

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Courtesy Alpine School District

Option A would mean kids who live from 2600 North to 1900 South in Lehi could end up at LJHS, this includes half of the elementary students at Eaglecrest, which in proximity are actually closer to Viewpoint. It would boost enrollment to 1,351 students at Lehi Junior High. Option B would mean students east of 1700 West from Timpanogos Highway to 1900 South would attend Lehi Junior High, taking its enrollment to 1,400 students.

Without the proposed adjustment, Viewpoint and Willowcreek could see their enrollments exceed 1,800 students.

Another concern is the growth in Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain.

"We are projecting new student growth of approximately 5,000 new students by 2030," said Stephenson.

With a new Elementary school projected to open in the fall of 2023, and residential construction happening in Eagle Mountain's Overland community, a study is underway to determine if a boundary adjustment is needed.

Alpine School District officials also anticipate possible boundary adjustments impacting Mountain Trails, Blackridge, and Hidden Hollow elementary schools. But Stephenson said the ball could get rolling on some of the changes sooner –– even before spring break.

"There's potential that we could have one or two or maybe three different boundary adjustments that will happen after the 120 days, which could be this coming spring, where we institute a few other boundary changes before the start of next school year.”

Curtis Booker is KUER’s growth, wealth and poverty reporter in Central Utah.
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