5 options to break up Utah’s largest district


Utah’s largest school district is exploring five reconfiguration options that could divide it into two or three new districts.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of the Alpine School District board (from left) Sara Hacken, Superintendent Shane Farnsworth, Sarah Beeson and Stacey Bateman, during a meeting on Friday, June 30, 2023. Utah’s largest school district is exploring five reconfiguration options that could divide it into two or three new districts.

Efforts are underway to potentially divide Utah’s largest school district into two or three new districts, a move that could impact more than 84,000 students living in Lehi, Orem and surrounding areas as soon as 2027.

Splitting the Alpine School District has been a looming possibility for decades due to its rapid population growth — the district covers nearly half of Utah County, which encompasses 13 municipalities and 92 schools. But it wasn’t until last year that district leaders took formal steps to set it in motion.

The district is now considering a list of potential redistricting options suggested by MGT, a Florida-based consulting firm hired to conduct a reconfiguration study. MGT representatives presented the options to Alpine school board members late last month.

Five possibilities involve dividing the district into two or three new parts. But a sixth proposal would keep the district as is. Any proposed change would hinge on voter approval this November, however.

Here’s a look at what could happen:

Option No. 1: Keep Alpine School District as is

Under this option, nothing would change, and Alpine School District would remain as one district.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Option No. 2: Divide the district in half, with Lehi in the west

This option proposes evenly dividing the current district into two districts, one to the east and one to the west, with approximately 42,000 students in each.

Under this plan, though, the eastern district is projected to face an initial $23 million funding deficit, while the western district would anticipate an initial surplus of $36 million.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Option No. 3: Divide the district in half, with Lehi in the east

This option would also divide the current district into two, but in this case, Lehi would be situated in the east, rather than the west.

This proposal would lower the eastern district’s initial deficit to roughly $14.5 million. The western district would see an initial surplus of $27 million.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Option No. 4: Create 3 districts

This option would split the Alpine School District in three ways: east, west and central.

The central district would have the most students at 34,000, but would operate with an initial $8 million deficit.

The eastern district would also face a $6 million deficit under this proposal, while the western district would still be at a $27 million surplus.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Option No. 5: Create 3 districts, with Pleasant Grove at the center

This option would also split the Alpine School District into thirds, but instead of Pleasant Grove being located in the eastern-most district, it would be situated in the central district.

This would lower the central district’s initial deficit to $1 million but increase the eastern district’s initial deficit to $13 million. The western district would still see a $27 million surplus.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Option No. 6: Lehi becomes its own school district

This option would also create three districts, but under it, Lehi would get its own district.

The Lehi school district would have a projected enrollment of around 18,000 students and an initial funding surplus of $8.7 million.

However, the eastern district in this scenario would run at an initial $23 million deficit, while the western district would again see a $27 million funding surplus.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

How residents can weigh in on the proposals

Residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on the possible Alpine split at three informational sessions hosted by MGT this week:

  • Tuesday at 7 p.m. — Timpanogos High School Auditorium: 1450 N. 200 East (Orem)

  • Wednesday at 7 p.m. — Vista Heights Middle Auditorium: 484 Pony Express Parkway (Saratoga Springs)

  • Thursday at 7 p.m. — American Fork Junior High Auditorium: 20 W. 1120 North (American Fork)

Alpine school board leaders intend to use feedback from these sessions to decide whether to add a split proposal to November’s ballot — and, if so, which option to formally endorse. That vote likely won’t happen until late April.

If the board decides to include a proposal on the ballot, it must still secure approval from the Utah County Commission and undergo a 45-day public comment period.

Past attempts to split the district

There have been several previous attempts to split the Alpine School District, but only one ever made it onto a ballot. The 2022 proposal would have created a new school district in Orem, which the Orem City Council first pitched in August of that year.

Proponents of the Orem split argued that the Alpine School District was unable to meet Orem students’ needs because of its large size. It ultimately failed, with 73% of voters rejecting it.

Orem residents had previously attempted to split from Alpine in 2006. That year, they filed a petition to the Orem City Council requesting a split, but after a feasibility study, the City Council voted against it.

Other proposals to split the district have been blocked by the Utah County Commission. In 2004, commissioners declined to add a potential new school district for Lehi, Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain to the ballot after a feasibility study didn’t recommend it.



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