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Kim Johnson ReportingThe Granite School District has a big problem: two few students in some areas, and too many in others. Olympus High is where parents should be this Thursday, 6:00 pm if they want voice an opinion. It will be the first of three open houses the district is hosting in May to get public input on what to do about the a student population that's out of balance.
Paul Shepherd, Granite School District: “The district is in the throes of an educational crisis. We essentially have eight-thousand empty seats.”
A lot of those empty seats are at Olympus High, Granite High and Cottonwood High schools, where student enrollments are all below 70 percent of capacity. Contrast that with Hunter and Cyprus High Schools where enrollments are above 90 percent, and Taylorsville High at nearly 100 percent of capacity.
Paul Shepherd: “We also have areas of Taylorsville and Kearns, interestingly enough, that have started to decline in student population as well. So it’s not just an east-side west-side phenonema, I think it’s a function of our neighborhoods growing older and maturing.”
Shepherd says bussing students from overcrowded schools to those with space available is one option. A more aggressive but efficient option, one that could save the district between three and six million dollars, would be to redraw boundaries.
Paul Shepherd: “Then we might be talking about closing a couple of elementary schools, possibly two junior high schools and possibly a high school.”
Shepherd says schools with declining enrollments wouldn't necessarily be candidates for closure.
Paul Shepherd: “For example, William Penn Elementary has low enrollment right now -- about 450 students, a little bit above that – but we just rebuilt that building. It would be foolish to close down a new building.”
Shepherd says the strength of academic programs, projected enrollments, and the facility itself would all be considered along with public opinion. The Granite Board of Education is expected to make a decision November 15th of this year.