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Study finds interlocal “central” school district is viable



“This is a historic event. I’ve been involved in city politics for over 22 years now, and I’ve never seen a joint council meeting such as this. This is really a special occasion,” said Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson to begin the joint city council meeting on Tuesday night with Lehi, Highland, Alpine, Cedar Hills and American Fork. Mayors and council members from all cities involved in the interlocal agreement attended the Highland City Hall meeting. 

The joint meeting was for city officials to hear the results from the LRB feasibility study contracted by the interlocal cities. LRB was the firm that conducted the Jordan and Canyons split several years ago. Fred Philpot was the financial analyst and Laura Lewis was the presenter Tuesday night. 

The study broke down the potential future districts by region. The “west district” would consist of Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Cedar Fort and Fairfield. The “central district” would consist of Lehi, Highland, Alpine, Cedar Hills, American Fork and the Utah County portion of Draper. The “reorganized district” would include Orem, Vineyard, Pleasant Grove and Lindon, as they would be together by default if the other two interlocals pass in the November General Election. 

The “central district” would have about 33,374 students, which is approximately 41% of ASD’s enrollment. 

The “central district” would encompass about 45% of the current district’s taxable value, and that number would most likely be the basis for dividing debt obligations, currently at $487 million, and assets. 

“The central district taxable value slowly increases due to your projected growth, while the reorganized district [southern cities] slowly decreases as they don’t have as much growth,” said analyst Laura Lewis when presenting that the “central district” would have the largest taxable value in the three-way split. 

The study reports that the ”central district” will have an increased general fund deficit for the first few years but would then be in a better financial situation than staying part of ASD by year three. 

“I don’t want anyone leaving this room thinking, if we do this, our taxes will go down. That is not what this is intending to show. This shows that your taxes will be less compared to staying in the Alpine School District,” said Lewis.

Using Alpine School District’s current capital needs plan, the study accounts for the “central district” needing to bond for about $110 million. The bond proceeds would be used for startup costs, a new $35 million elementary school and a $75 million high school remodel. “Central district” taxpayers would have the lowest debt obligation per student from year one. 

The study concluded that, based on their analysis, the new school district is a viable alternative to the existing school district. The potential new district will provide the benefits of likely tax savings relative to ASD and the opportunity for more localized control to meet the needs of students in the new district. 

“We’ve heard about all the pros and benefits, but what are the cons? Do you see any red flags?” asked American Fork City Council member Tim Holley. 


“There is nothing that leaps out to me,” replied Lewis. 

Voters in the “central district” boundaries can find more information and the dates for each city’s public hearing at The “central school district” name is temporary and not official.

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