Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
OREM — Orem residents will have the chance in November to vote on leaving the Alpine School District to form a new school district after the Orem City Council voted 4-3 last month to place the issue on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election.
But do teachers and parents want to form a new district?
The answer, according to the three PTA councils that represent Alpine District schools in Orem, is an unequivocal "no."
"We were sort of blindsided when we were notified that they (Orem City Council) had ordered a feasibility study," said Julie Walker, Orem Council PTA president.
That was all the way back in January. Three months later, the City Council hired Discovery Education Consultants to conduct a feasibility study looking at the financial, logistical and educational feasibility of Orem splitting to form its own district.
"We care about and want the very best for our students, teachers and taxpayers," said Orem Mayor David Young, in a statement. "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 in July when presented to the Orem City Council, with the consultants finding that a split would be viable in the key areas identified.
Following the vote to put the split on the ballot, the three PTA councils that represent Orem — Mountain View Council, Orem Council and Timpanogos Council — sent out a survey asking members if they would vote yes or no on Orem Proposition 2, which proposes splitting Orem into its own school district.
The survey was sent to approximately 2,000 PTA members and 693 people responded.
The teachers do not want this and really, there's no one else to speak for the teachers but the PTA.
–Julie Walker, Orem Council PTA president
According to PTA bylaws for Utah, the PTA can only take a position on an issue if the survey reveals at least a two-thirds majority.
Of those 693 PTA members who responded, 639 of them — 92.2% — indicated that they want Orem to remain a part of Alpine School District.
"The teachers do not want this and really, there's no one else to speak for the teachers but the PTA," Walker said.
Following the results of the survey, the three PTA councils that represent Alpine District schools in Orem met last week in separate special meetings. All three councils adopted the motion to oppose Orem Proposition 2.
"We decided to take the position on the council level to oppose," Walker said. "The schools in my council, the schools in Timpanogos Council and the schools in Mountain View Council all have agreed that we oppose Proposition 2 in Orem."
Walker said she believes Orem splitting from Alpine School District will "undoubtedly" raise taxes for Orem residents.
As I stated previously, I would not vote for a split if it raises taxes — and this will.
–Tom Macdonald, Orem City Council
Orem City Councilman Tom Macdonald also spoke about the tax increases that would happen if Orem were to split during last month's City Council meeting when the council voted to put the split on November's ballot.
"As I stated previously, I would not vote for a split if it raises taxes — and this will," he said.
Walker said teachers and parents agree that Alpine School District is too big, but "breaking off one city is not going to fix any of the problems they think it's going to fix."
"We want a bigger split. We want more cities in our split so it's more equitable," Walker said.
"We're speaking for the parents, the teachers (and) students," Walker said. "We're even speaking for those people of Vineyard and Lindon. They were very clear about not having a voice in this, and their only voice would come through the PTA."
Vineyard and Lindon both have schools in the Alpine School District that would be impacted by a potential split, yet the vote for Orem to form its own district won't be on the ballot for residents of those cities.
"If this goes through, they just get to deal with it," Walker said.
Additionally, she said the PTA hopes to speak for special education students.
"When you look at the feasibility study, they're talking about doing contracted services for special education. What special ed mom wants to put her kid on a bus to a school in Pleasant Grove when she could walk them down to Centennial (Elementary School) where they have a great life-skills program and the life-skills program at Orem High?" Walker said.
"We want something that benefits all of the children, and it's not this," she added.
No matter what the results of the PTA survey indicated, the future of the Alpine School District will be decided in just under two months when the residents of Orem vote on whether they want Orem to split and form its own school district.
People can read more about the PTA's position and see information about the proposed Orem-only school district here.