Connect with us

Education

Majority support district split during Lehi's first “Central” district public hearing

Published

on

The Lehi City Council held its first of two public hearings on Tuesday, July 9, to gather public comments on the proposed ballot initiative to break off from the Alpine School District (ASD) and form a new “Central” school district interlocal agreement with American Fork, Highland, Alpine, Cedar Hills and a small part of Draper.

Each city council involved must hold two public hearings and then vote to place the three-way split option on the ballot in August before the November election. Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Cedar Fort and Fairfield are simultaneously conducting the same process to form the “West” school district. Orem, Vineyard, Pleasant Grove, and Lindon leaders have chosen not to create an interlocal agreement and will wait to see the outcome of the other two interlocal agreements. If voters pass both interlocal agreements in their respective areas, the remaining southern cities will form a new district by default.

Residents from Lehi and other parts of the district spoke during the public hearing, and the majority supported the new proposed district.

“I want to thank you for all you have done, for doing the study and for putting our children first [...] I appreciate you coming together and all the research you've done and allowing the voters to choose and vote on this. I am personally in support of the split,” said Lehi resident Molly Barrington, the parent of a special needs student who spoke first to the council.

“I'm the president-elect of the Snow Springs PTA, and I've been following this [split] closely. I want to thank the city council for fighting for us. In following this, I've seen it from every single angle and changed my mind many times. Where I've landed is very much in support of this three-way split. We've lost our sense of community and become too big and disconnected. I don't ever see bonds passing if we stay together,” said Lehi resident Katrina Cummins, who also vocalized support for the district split.

“We've tried to learn from the Jordan and Canyon split, and one of the things we have learned is teacher pay, and teacher benefits did not decrease in that process because there is a fight for human capital when you split a district. I do believe the teachers will be held harmless. That fight for human capital, in many cases, will increase the ability for teachers to succeed,” said Highland resident and Utah House Representative Brady Brammer.

While many residents spoke in support, several expressed concerns about splitting from the district, most of whom are currently employed by ASD.

Advertisement

“When I came to Alpine after working at a smaller school district, I was amazed at the breadth of programs and opportunities that weren't available at the smaller district I worked at before,” said Lehi resident Steven Smith, who is an occupational therapist at Alpine School District's specialty school, Horizon in Saratoga Springs.

“I can see all sides to the split. I can see all the benefits from the different perspectives, but my main concern is for the at-risk students and losing the alternative programs,” said Aubrey Sorenson, another Alpine School District employee who works with special needs students.

In an unusual action, Lehi City Councilman Chris Condie left the councilor dais and went to speak at the podium as a resident during public comment.

“This is not about Lehi City trying for a power grab. If you look at the analysis that's been done and the discussions we've had, this is strictly what's in the best interest of the students in all of Alpine School District,” said Condie before returning to the dais.

“Tonight was an incredible experience to be a part of. I have never attended a public hearing where there was respectful applause after every comment. No matter if the speaker showed support or concern, there was applause and, with it, a feeling that we are all in this together,” said Councilwoman Heather Newall in a social media post after the meeting.

The Lehi City Council will host its second and final public hearing on Tuesday, July 23. Residents may also submit comments and obtain information about the proposal at https://centralschooldistrict.org

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *