Education is at the forefront of daily conversation and political policy, and that will continue into 2024 as the Alpine School District (ASD) Board of Education goes through the process of studying district reconfiguration.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, ASD Superintendent Shane Farnsworth announced that the district administration had selected MGT Education, a consulting firm out of Tampa, Florida, to conduct the study.
“We like that they are out of state to give an unbiased opinion,” said Farnsworth, who noted the firm’s selection process was conducted by teachers, classified staff, administrators, and parents.
Companies from around the country presented to the selection committee, offering proposals for the reconfiguration study. Ultimately, MGT won the contract due to their extensive experience with public education and numerous references from past clients, said Farnsworth.
“Our team is led by former state education commissioners, district superintendents, school board members, principals, and teachers. We also employ experts specializing in organizational transformation. When we bring this expertise together, we can create recommendations that balance the importance of academic and operational effectiveness,” MGT’s website says.
MGT will charge ASD a flat rate for the study regardless of complexity and timeline. The district staff and MGT will now craft a timeline and process to present to the board at a future meeting, along with plans to include stakeholders from around the district, including parents, teachers, and elected officials.
There are three paths for including a district plan on the general election ballot: A county, city, or citizen’s initiative.
Given the current Utah statute regarding splitting districts, several bills will be filed in the upcoming Utah State Legislative Session, allowing a district to send a split to the ballot. Other bills may be filed to change state law to permit cities like Lehi to form a citywide district, which is not allowed currently due to geographical restrictions of creating an “island” district.
“We have only discussed two or three district reconfigurations. In both options, Lehi, Saratoga, and Eagle Mountain are their own district. This does not mean we would stay together indefinitely. There are benefits to staying together for a time. My priority is student outcomes. After that, we need to look at the costs of creating new district offices, transportation centers and potentially creating a central services district. We currently benefit from economies of scale, and I would like to continue that with whatever outcome we land on,” said Stacy Bateman, one of Lehi’s ASD board members.
Bateman also noted she is leaning toward supporting sending a 2024 ballot question to voters on whether to split or not but will wait until the study is complete to make a firm decision.