Connect with us

Education

East and West board members clash as ASD begins public comment on split

Published

on

ASD Board members planned a short meeting Tuesday for a formal vote to begin the 45-day public comment period for Alpine School District's (ASD) proposed two-way district split, but the meeting turned into an airing of grievances.

ASD is moving forward with a two-way district split study that would essentially keep the district intact except for a new district in the West for Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Fairfield and Cedar Fort. The board moved forward with the two-way split on a 4-3 vote, with Western county representatives Julie King, Joylin Lincoln and Stacy Bateman dissenting.

King, Lincoln, and Bateman supported their area's interlocal agreements, which each municipality's city councils unanimously approved for a three-way district split.

The first agreement, if supported by voters, would create a western district with Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Cedar Fort and Fairfield. The second agreement would create a central district with Lehi, Highland, Alpine, Cedar Hills and American Fork.

The district's southern cities, including Orem, Vineyard, Lindon and Pleasant Grove, have decided not to form an interlocal agreement. Their city voters will only be given an opportunity to vote on a two-way district split if ASD puts it on the ballot.

Each interlocal city and the Alpine School District will need to conduct a 45-day public input period before voting to put their respective choices on the ballot.

On Tuesday night, the ASD Board voted to begin their 45-day period with an anticipated decision on whether or not to put the split on the ballot scheduled for July 16.

Advertisement

The meeting was a formality, but Orem and Vineyard Board Representative Ada Wilson added an oration to her motion.

“I want to emphasize that we're the governing board of public schools in this area and I would hope that that authority would be recognized... There is a definite push to split the district, but it's based on claims that have no basis. One of those is that there is an imbalance in representation that can only be solved in a three-way split, and I think that's untrue,” began Wilson.

“I don't think it's fair for you in the West to say you're not being represented well. In our representative democracy, If you feel that your opinions aren't being represented then you have the opportunity and responsibility to thoughtfully advocate for your position,” continued Wilson as she stated her opposition to the three-way split proposal being studying by the interlocal agreement cities in the North and West. 

“When we have things that need to get done, Alpine School District takes care of them, and we meet the needs of students,” added Board Representative Mark Clement, who represents Lindon and Pleasant Grove. Clement is also opposed to the three-way split.

“I feel like there's been a lack of data to support the city's positions that their citizens want a split. They have yet to poll their cities,” said Board Member Sarah Beeson, who represents American Fork, Highland, Alpine and Cedar Hills.

“Our data says that 57% of respondents wanted to stay as a single district. 24% supported a two-way split, and only 19% supported a three-way. I'm having a hard time understanding why we would go against what the public wants and the staff recommendation,” said Beeson, referring to ASD survey results conducted by MGT Consulting earlier this year.

“I can't in good conscience make decisions that are based on 50 city representatives for a district of over 84,000 families in our community,” concluded Beeson, who is also opposed to the city interlocal agreements for a three-way split.

The western board members were caught off guard by the comments from the eastern board members, and Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs Board Member Julie King responded first.

Advertisement

“I take exception to some of these comments. Saying that the [cities'] claims have no basis, I absolutely disagree with that coming from an area that representation is a massive concern, and it has been for years,” said King.

“Lehi, Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain represented three-fourths of Utah County's growth last year, and the growth issue isn't going away. As far as new school building issues are concerned, I would invite you to my schools,” added King in response to the board members defending their record of supporting students in the West.

“There are significant concerns that aren't being addressed… I take exception to how some of this is being characterized. Our focus should be on meeting the needs of students, and to characterize it otherwise is unproductive and unhelpful,” concluded King.

“I think it's incredibly disingenuous to disregard the concerns of our cities and residents. This is exactly why we're in this situation. I'm disappointed in the comments that I've heard tonight. I find it interesting that Board Member Beeson said that 50 city council members weren't representative of the 84,000 kids, yet the seven of us are supposed to be,” said Lehi Board Member Stacy Bateman.

ASD will hold two public open houses before deciding whether to put a two-way split on the ballot or leave the district as one, pending the outcome of the interlocal agreements calling for a three-way split.

The first public meeting will be June 11 at 6 p.m. at the district office, located at 575 N 100 E in American Fork. The second meeting will be on June 25 at Lake Mountain Middle School in Saratoga Springs.

“Last night's meeting was just to open the 45-day public comment period. Some of the board members used that time for political posturing. Refusing to acknowledge and support different municipalities' needs shows us that we need better representation,” said Bateman when reached for comment Wednesday morning regarding tension between the western and eastern board members.

“By bringing concerns and challenges closer to home, we can better address them. Decisions should be made by those in the community who understand our unique needs and are equipped with the knowledge to solve current problems and plan for the future,” added Bateman.

Advertisement