The Alpine School District (ASD) Board of Education (BOE) voted on Tuesday night to begin the process to close five schools, including Lehi Elementary. The school, located right off Center Street and State Street, was built in 1951 and is not only the oldest school in the city but the oldest school in the district after Geneva Elementary closed its doors in 2021.
The decision came after a months-long study conducted by a committee of 23 district staff members, including various experts who held six meetings over the last two months to work through study recommendations presented to the BOE on Tuesday.
“We went city by city and school by school,” said Kimberly Bird, Executive Director of Internal Affairs and Operations for the district.
Bird presented each city’s 2023 enrollment numbers and their 2027 projected enrollments. The projections showed Lehi Elementary with a declining enrollment projection which has been happening for several years now.
The six elementary schools in the west that feed into Lehi High are projecting the following enrollments:
North Point 2023: 992 2027: 1,191
River Rock 2023: 1,017 2027: 1,087
Lehi 2023: 470 2027: 412
Meadow 2023: 599 2027: 518
Snow Springs 2023: 762 2027: 735
Dry Creek 2023: 1,072 2027: 1,110
The study results recommended the closure of Lehi Elementary due to seismic issues, flooding potential and decreased enrollment. With boundary adjustments, most students from Lehi Elementary would attend Meadow Elementary, and 100 students would move to North Point Elementary. With the increase of students at North Point, there would also be a boundary adjustment to move 150 students from North Point to River Rock.
The changes would result in the following enrollment numbers:
North Point 2023: 942 2027: 1,141
River Rock 2023: 941 2027: 1,011
Meadow 2023: 911 2027: 830
Snow Springs 2023: 988 2027: 961
Dry Creek: No Change
“Just because more students attend a school doesn’t mean larger class sizes. The FTE (full-time employee teachers and staff) will be adjusted and balanced out,” said Stacy Bateman, the ASD board member who represents Lehi and Meadow Elementary.
Along with Lehi Elementary, the BOE voted to start the closure process at Valley View Elementary (Pleasant Grove), Lindon Elementary (Lindon), Windsor Elementary (Orem) and Sharon Elementary (Orem).
“We’re looking at the age of facilities. We’re looking at the use of each facility. It isn’t all about dollars,” said Board member Julie King who represents Eagle Mountain.
“Student safety is a significant piece of this,” continued King, who said all five schools slated to be closed are on the district’sseismic watch list due to earthquake safety concerns.
The study stated that the Lehi Elementary closure and boundary adjustments are only temporary solutions. A new elementary school will be needed in West Lehi soon as most of the schools in the area are projected to surpass 1,000 students each.
“I want to tell our friends at Lehi Elementary and the other surrounding four schools that I know this isn’t ideal. Nobody wants to close a school with two months left (in the school year), but it’s a safety thing, and it’s an opportunity thing. We’ve been losing FTE (full-time employees) every year (at this school). I support this, and I know it’s hard, but it will help getus to a better place,” said Bateman in her closing remarks.
The district study recommended initiating the closures and boundary adjustments for the 2024-2025 school year, but Board member Joylin Lincoln, who represents West Lehi and Saratoga Springs, motioned to implement the plan for the 2023-2024 school year that will begin in August. Board member Ada Wilson agreed and seconded the motion citing that “sooner rather than later” was necessary.
Board member Sarah Beeson who represents the Alpine, Highland and Cedar Hills cluster, voiced concern about speeding up the process and the short timeline it would give the affected families. Board member Sara Hacken from Orem agreed and said students, families and staff need time to grieve and celebrate the closing schools.
The board ultimately decided that urgency trumped sentiment and voted 6-1 (Beeson dissenting) to move forward with closures before the 2023-2024 school year.
Under state law, the district must now notify families affected by the closures and make time for the community and public to comment on the decision before taking a final closure vote.
For more information: https://alpineschools.org/boundarychanges/