Alpine School District to consider two split options

Apr 30, 2024, 1:37 PM | Updated: 2:13 pm

AMERICAN FORK — The Alpine School District Board of Education is narrowing down options that could be presented to voters in November on possibly splitting up the district.

On Monday, nine city councils signed interlocal agreements to explore forming their own districts. Under the proposals, the cities of Highland, Cedar Hills, Alpine, Lehi, American Fork and part of Draper would form one district to the east, with Eagle Mountain, Saratoga Springs and Fairfield signing on for a district to the west. That would leave Pleasant Grove, Lindon, Vineyard and Orem to form a third district.

“I think the key to this district is every single area has specific needs,” said Eagle Mountain City Council member Jared Gray. “Really, the reason for this split is so that we can take care of our own problems and address our problems with our own resources and to help each other move forward.”

Three-district option

Alpine school board members ultimately agreed in a meeting Tuesday to further study the three-district option as a ballot question. However, they also wanted to keep a two-district option on the table. That would create a district to the west with Eagle Mountain, Saratoga Springs and Fairfield, and the remaining cities to the east in the other district. One or both options could be put to the ballot in November, along with an option to keep Alpine School District as-is.

“It is a huge deal because it impacts children and families for the next 50 years, 60, maybe even 100 years,” said board president Sara Hacken. “It seemed logical that we would explore both with our public.”

A meeting to seek public input on the three options will be held on June 25, with the school board deciding which option(s) to put on the ballot on July 12. The board would have to ask the Utah County Commission to certify the question for the November election.

Reconfiguration options for Alpine School District

A recent study done by a consulting firm proposed several different reconfiguration options and ultimately recommended the district split into two.

The Alpine School District and consulting firm initially held public meetings to present the options ahead of school board discussion.

In addition to the meeting ahead of the Alpine school board, Highland Mayor Kurt Ostler explained how a recent law change about district realignments that takes effect Wednesday also sped up their process. They wanted to get all of their documents together in time.

The difference between a city and a school district moving forward with reconfiguration, Ostler indicated, is in who gets to vote on it. If the cities involved in the interlocal agreements put it on the November ballot, then it leaves the choice to each city’s citizens to vote if they want to form their own district.

If the school board gets it on the ballot, the vote is district-wide on a reconfiguration plan.

“We’re worried that if it was voted on all district-wide, you might not be able to see a realignment happen,” Ostler said. “By doing this, I think it helps give a little bit of the cover to the district to start that realignment process.”

‘A localized vote’

Ostler expressed wanting a localized vote, and during Monday’s meeting, the Highland City Council echoed that sentiment in saying the interlocal agreement keeps local control.

Ostler stressed that this decision isn’t because of any issues with the Alpine School District.

“My kids went to the schools there. We’ve been happy with the things. We’ve got great teachers. I think our administration’s really good,” he said.

As Utah County grows, Ostler said it is creating difficulty in trying to get things done as a district. He pointed to the failed $600 million bond a couple of years ago, saying there were concerns over building schools outside the communities that would be funding them.

Now that both agreements are signed, each of the nine cities will enter into a 45-day public comment period, which will include public meetings for citizen input. Then each city council will vote if they want to put this on the ballot.

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Alpine School District to consider two split options