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Legislature passes changes to school district split bill; Only the interlocal agreements can be on November ballot



Utah Governor Spencer Cox called a special legislative session last week to convene lawmakers to Capitol Hill today. The Special Session addressed logistical changes to SB221 “School District Amendments” which significantly impacts the current reconfiguration process being conducted throughout the Alpine School District.

“We have a conundrum in Alpine School District where there is more than one split being proposed and that creates some chaos on the ballot, so this bill only allows one split at a time to move forward for a single voter, so no voter will be voting on more than one split,” said Representative Brady Brammer (R-Highland) when presenting the bill on the House floor. 

The most significant changes to state law include removing the opportunity for school districts to propose their own preferred split on the ballot, as well as clarifying that only voters that live within their respective interlocal agreements will vote on whether to leave the district or not. 

“This amendment proposes that all people in the existing district have an opportunity to vote on the proposed split… In this case, were proposing splitting a school district, and a third or 40 percent of those citizens who are going to be affected by this change have no say in the matter whatsoever,” said Representative Jon Hawkins (R-Pleasant Grove), who proposed an amendment on the floor that would’ve allowed all voters districtwide to vote on the interlocals’ ability to leave the district or not. The amendment failed. 

“I rise in very strong support of this bill. I represent the western part of the district and we’ve been chronically underrepresented on the west side. We’re part of a district that has grown so big and dysfunctional that we can’t pass a bond,” said Representative Stephanie Gricius (R-Eagle Mountain).

“The tool we created this last session to allow school district boards to put a school district split on the ballot, which I wholeheartedly supported, ended up being used in a way we didn’t anticipate. They essentially used it to create voter confusion. They put up a proposal and then came out with a video from the Superintendent and said we don’t actually want to split; vote it down,” concluded Gricius. 

“Regardless of our own personal opinions on whether Alpine School District should split or not, this is about clarity on the ballot and clarity on the result,” concluded Brammer. 


The bill passed the House 65-7 and the Senate 23-1. 

If approved by municipality city councils in the proposed interlocal agreements, voters in Lehi, Highland, Alpine, Cedar Hills and American Fork will vote on creating a “central school district” and voters in Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Cedar Fort and Fairfield will vote on creating a “western school district.”

Currently, city leaders in Orem, Vineyard, Pleasant Grove and Lindon have not formed an interlocal agreement, and their residents will not have a ballot option unless they choose to form an interlocal agreement this month. If they elect to not form an agreement and voters pass the two (west and central) interlocal agreements in November, the remaining municipalities will comprise a reorganized district by default.