Public School Established in Alta Ski Lodge

Public School Established in Alta Ski Lodge

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ALTA, Utah (AP) -- A storage wing at the Goldminer's Daughter Lodge is being converted into Alta's first public school.

A school has long been sought by Alta parents, who have been forced to drive children down a snowy and sometimes treacherous Little Cottonwood Canyon road to Salt Lake Valley schools.

"We're really excited about it, being able to help the community and providing space for a school," lodge co-owner Jennifer Life-Olson said.

The school will start out as a three-year experiment.

Alta resident Roger Bourke in June approached the Jordan Board of Education about bringing either a charter or district-sponsored school to the mountain town.

The school district believes it can provide a school in the community at little extra cost.

The one-room school will be for kindergartners through eighth-graders. Items including carpet, cabinets, telephone and computer lines will be installed in the approximately 1,000-square-foot room, Superintendent Barry Newbold said.

About 10 students are expected to enroll this fall and the number is expected to grow to 25 within three years.

The principal of Granite Elementary, the closest school to Alta, will oversee the Alta school.

The district will hire a teacher certified to teach elementary grades and prepared to meet strict new federal guidelines to teach English, math and science to middle-school students.

Alcohol is served elsewhere in the lodge, but the wing has its own parking lot, entrance and rest rooms.

Life-Olson said the lodge's liquor license is not threatened because it existed before the school.

In the event of canyon closures, the community will provide food and lodging for the teacher. Community members also have pledged to volunteer in the school.

"There's a lot of enthusiasm for this sort of thing," Bourke said.

A lease is being negotiated. But Newbold believes it will cost far less than the $60,000 it would take to place a portable classroom somewhere in town. The district will use state funds earmarked for experimental programs.

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

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