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Millcreek Journal

Granite School District conducts two population analysis studies

Apr 30, 2022 11:43AM ● By Lizzie Walie

By Lizzie Walje | [email protected]

Granite School District is currently conducting two population analysis studies, following significant changes in student populations within the district.

The district took to social media to inform students and their families of the ongoing studies stating, “[We are] currently conducting two population analysis studies pertaining to two specific areas. Van Winkle/700 East Boundary and Consolidation Study, and Skyline, Cottonwood, Olympus Network Study.”

Following the announcement back in March 2022, several open house meetings took place throughout April. The district stressed the importance of community feedback, seeing as the outcomes of these studies could potentially dictate future boundaries and even potential school closures and consolidations.

For those unfamiliar with population analysis studies, and why they occur, these studies are usually borne out of necessity following significant changes in student populations. They are conducted every year in areas where student population numbers have changed significantly. For community members who are concerned about potential outcomes, the district stresses the importance of the community’s involvement.

Depending on the results gathered, it’s a possibility that certain schools could be combined or closed entirely. If a school is to be closed, many community members rightfully wonder what will become of the building.

According to Granite School District, if the board does decide to close a school there are a few different potential routes for refurbishing and repurposing. “The district is disinclined to surplus or sell the property because our geographic boundaries limit potential for growth,” Granite School District announced on their Facebook page. “In instances when the facility is too old to be used or maintained, buildings could be razed, or the property maintained as a park by the city or country while the district maintains ownership.”

Families in the Skyline, Olympus, and Cottonwood networks received postcard invites encouraging them to participate in a series of community discussions and open houses that took place in April 2022.

According to study director Steve Hogan, “It has always been in the best interest of everyone involved to participate in these discussions, and we’ve made a concerted effort to reach out to every family who would be affected and invite them to our open forums.”

The spring open houses concluded on April 18, following two prior events held on April 11 and April 13, respectively. The feedback was mixed with some parents citing concerns about overcrowded classrooms as a reason for opposition against closures and consolidations.

 “We are one of the fastest-growing states in the nation,” said a meeting attendee and parent who wished to remain anonymous. “My son and daughter are both currently enrolled in a [Granite District] elementary school, where we’ve recently considered leaving given the ratio of teachers to students. The problem is, if Utah continues to grow as it has been these past several years, many districts are going to be facing this exact issue. It leaves us with limited options as parents.”

Despite the conclusion of these open houses, the district is still allowing community members to submit feedback via the district’s website. Feedback will still be accepted and analyzed. Given the length of population analysis studies, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done before any definitive decisions are made.

            While members of the public have just recently been made aware of the population analysis, it would have first crossed the board’s agenda back in February 2022 as a potential study. Once approved, the board compiled data and began research prior to the April 2022 open houses.

            What comes next? Per Granite District’s memo, “In [May 2022] we will begin analyzing and compiling the public input and start to draft multiple solutions to be explored. The Population Analysis Committee will then present an initial report to the Board of Education. In August and September, potential solutions will be refined based on input from the board. An initial report will be publicized, and public commentary solicited.”

            As of now, there is no guaranteed date for the study’s completion. It will vary slightly based on the findings of the board, the community feedback received, and the level of modification needed for the final recommendation. However, it is estimated the final recommendation will be presented at some point in either October or November 2022. The Population Analysis Committee will present a final plan to the board in a public hearing during a routine Board of Education meeting. The plan is either adopted, modified, or rejected by the board over the course of two readings.

            If at that juncture, a boundary change is approved, and a school closure or consolidation is authorized, the district will create a timeline for implementation based on the specific needs of the affected school and community. Regardless of the outcome, the district has made it clear families will be alerted every step of the way.

            Granite School District also wanted to reiterate that their first priority is, and will always be, the well-being and welfare of the students. “It is our responsibility to do all things necessary for the prosperity and success of our students and our schools. A part of that responsibility includes conducting population studies when necessary. We do this with the ultimate goal of ensuring that students in the district receive an equitable education,” according to the district.

            Community members are currently encouraged to reach out to the district with any concerns or questions they may have about any component of the process. All questions can be sent via email to the Planning & Boundaries Division of Granite School District. Their contact is [email protected]