Alpine school board settles dilemma on where to build new schools

UTAH COUNTY — The Alpine School District Board of Education has decided how to use the remainder of a $387 million bond by figuring out which areas need new schools.

At their Tuesday meeting, parents listened to the board sort out a dilemma: There are three cities in which the district needs to alleviate overcrowding. They can only build elementary schools in two of those cities under the current bond.

The cities include Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain and Vineyard.

Some parents in each city would argue that they need a new school.

"We are concerned about the overcrowding that has been long and coming," said Maegen Jenne, who has two children who attend school in Vineyard.

Her sentiments were shared by a few moms who expressed their opinions to the board.

"There is a need for a school, or a need for a solution," said Vineyard parent Jenna George.

Alpine School Board spokesperson Kimberly Bird explained that the district looked at a number of factors in figuring out who needs a new school the most.

"Enrollment numbers, in addition to that we look at the school size, the capacity that it can hold, how many classrooms does each school have," she listed.

What about the fact that the $387 million bond has come up short for funding the projects?

The shortage, the district has explained, came from increased construction costs and spending extra money to expand other projects.

Bird described how the district will look at other funding sources to draw from instead.

"From Capitol dollars, from the sale of our properties, from sale of water shares or from fund balances," Bird said.

In addition to building two new elementary schools, the district plans to build a middle school in Lehi under Phase IV of the 2016 bond.

Bird said the money for the middle school is already covered by the bond.

Before figuring the exact details of funding for the other two schools, the board needed to decide where to put the schools.

In the end, they voted on Vineyard and Eagle Mountain.

Saratoga Springs didn't make the cut, which board member Julie King didn't agree with.

"There is still a huge disparity between us being able to keep up with that growth on the west side of the lake," she said, during the meeting.

Eagle Mountain and Vineyard parents, however, now know what the plan is for relief.

"We'll still have to struggle through the 2020 school year," Jenne said. "But then after that, I know we'll feel a lot of relief and a lot of release of pressure from the number of students in our school."

Bird explained that the district might look at other options to help with overcrowding in Saratoga Springs -- which could include looking at satellite or portable buildings, year-round school, double sessions, blended/remote learning options, boundary adjustments, grade level configurations or another school bond in 2020.

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