More Than 1,200 Sign Petitition for New School District

More Than 1,200 Sign Petitition for New School District

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- More than 1,200 people in Lehi, Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain have signed a petition to break away from the Alpine School District to form their own Pioneer School District.

If the county elections office verifies at least 1,222 of the 1,208 signatures, the proposal will go to the Utah County Commission, which would decide whether to put it on the ballot next year.

Rep. David Cox, R-Lehi and a teacher a Lehi's Sego Lily Elementary School, backs the proposal. Cox sponsored the bill passed earlier this year that allows residents to petition county commissioners to form a new school district if they have signatures of at least 15 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the last governor's race.

Alpine School District officials have not taken a position.

"We respect the right of patrons to pursue that course," said district spokeswoman Jerrilyn Mortensen. "It's their district."

If Alpine School District hadn't adopted a new controversial standards-based math program, sponsors might not have had enough signatures to make it happen, Cox said.

The standards-based math program, called Investigations, focuses on the philosophy that children learn best by discovering new ways to solve problems.

"That was the trigger," Cox said.

Alpine has nearly 50,000 students, making it Utah's fourth-largest district. The Pioneer School District would have about 8,000 students, slightly larger than the Iron County School District, Cox said.

Donna Barnes, who represents the Lehi, Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain area on the Alpine School Board, said the district is so large it has reached the point that parts of the district have different needs.

"One area is leveling off and declining, and Lehi is exploding," Barnes said. "To deal with all of that in the same way is really difficult."

Because of that, the parts of the district that aren't growing will be asked to pay for buildings in the parts that are expanding, such as the Lehi area, she said.

A new district would divide resources and property, Mortensen said. It would have to establish new policies, and there are questions about money, reliability and assets.

"There are many questions to be answered," she said. "I think they have many, many issues to decide and resolve."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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