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Timeline: Orem explores split from Alpine School District, forming new district


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OREM — The city of Orem has been exploring options to separate schools within their city limit from the Alpine School District since 2006.

Now, a study made public on Tuesday concluded that a split would be financially and educationally sound.

Here's a rundown of how discussions of a potential split from Utah's largest school district got to this point and what's next.

2004: Pioneer District feasibility study

A feasibility study was completed for Lehi, Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain to form Pioneer School District. Utah County commissioners declined to put a new district on the ballot in 2004 after a feasibility study didn't recommend it.

2006: Orem joins the splitting discussions

Following former Utah state Rep. Dave Cox, R-Lehi, passing legislation solidifying that only residents of the city or cities considering a split from a school district could vote on the issue, Orem residents presented a petition with over 1,000 signatures to the Orem City Council requesting to split from the Alpine School District.

"I think it would be a little cleaner (with Orem high school students attending only high schools in the city)," Cox told the Deseret News in 2006.

This was the first instance of Orem exploring a split.

Following the presentation of the petition, the Orem City Council approved a feasibility study to split from Alpine School District. The study results gave several options, from remaining as just Orem to forming a four-city district with Orem, Lindon, Pleasant Grove and Vineyard.

Later that year, the motion to include the school district split on the upcoming ballot was defeated in a 4-3 vote by the Orem City Council, thus, the ballot proposal was not pursued.

According to the latest feasibility study on Orem splitting from the district, if Orem had voted to leave ASD in 2006, and left by 2009, the city would have retained $570 million in tax revenues from 2009 to 2021. Since 2009, Orem received $87 million of Alpine School District's $815 million total of bond allocations, 10.67% of all bond allocations, despite having 25.08% of the property values, the study said.

2007: Other Utah districts split

After years of similar studies and voting processes, cities on the east side of the Jordan School District split from the district, forming Canyons School District.

"It really is a little melancholy for us. While we wish the Canyons well, we also realize that all of those teachers and those support staff and principals, those are our people. We hired them," said then-Jordan School District director of communications Melinda Colton.

In the same voter election that saw the east and west sides of Jordan School District split, West Jordan's proposal to split from the Jordan School District was defeated.

The newly created Canyons School District began operations in 2009.

2012: Orem residents speak out

A group of Orem residents in 2012 made a nearly 20-minute YouTube video discussing the advantages of splitting from Alpine School District.

2019: Orem consolidates elementary schools

The Associated Press in March of 2019 reported that Hillcrest Elementary School and Scera Park Elementary School merged into what became Centennial Elementary School after a discussion on whether to close or consolidate the schools.

"It is a true merger in that form, truly merging students, truly merging communities and parents, truly merging community and staff," said Shelley Schroeder, Centennial Elementary School principal.

2022: Orem moves forward with another feasibility study

The Orem City Council in January voted unanimously to move forward with a feasibility study to determine if an Orem school district is viable.

Three months later, in April, the city council hired Discovery Education Consultants to conduct the feasibility study.

In addition to financial viability, the study reviewed and analyzed eight key areas, including school district growth, unresolved seismic safety issues, student test scores, Title I concerns, teacher pay and benefits, class sizes, student enrollment and local representation.

"We care about and want the very best for our students, teachers and taxpayers," Orem Mayor David Young said in a press release. "That is why we are conducting the most comprehensive school feasibility study to date to determine what is in the best interest of Orem."

The results of that study were made public Tuesday when presented to the Orem City Council, with the consultants finding that a split would be viable in the key areas identified.

Public meetings to present and answer questions about the comprehensive study were held Monday and Wednesday; more are scheduled for July 19 and July 28 at Library Hall in the Orem City Center. It is anticipated the Orem City Council will vote on Aug. 2 whether to put the issue on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election, to let voters decide whether to create an Orem school district.

If the City Council votes to leave Alpine School District, the study said that the district would target the 2024-25 school year as the inaugural year for the new district.

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Logan Stefanich is a reporter with KSL.com, covering southern Utah communities, education, business and military news.

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