Over the past couple of months, we have been very involved at the legislature, working on any issues that might affect Orem. We do this to
protect your interests in our community.
We were surprised to find out what came next. Our first shock came January 25th, when Alpine School District announced
they passed a $90 Million Dollar Lease Revenue Bond even though the taxpayers overwhelmingly voted against a school bond – just ten weeks
Then, two weeks ago, Alpine School District announced they would close two more Orem Schools, Sharon Elementary and Windsor Elementary,
bringing our recent closures to five. The school closures are being blamed on Alpine School District being unable to pass their $595 Million Dollar Bond last fall. That is an interesting scapegoat, but it makes no sense.
This is relatively straightforward. Alpine attempted to bond for $595 Million. They wanted Orem to pay $116 Million of their debt but only receive back $16 Million for our schools. That $16 million was to be used for two multipurpose rooms. Besides the multipurpose rooms, NOTHING from the Bond would have gone to Sharon Elementary, Windsor Elementary, or any other schools in Orem.
That is why our citizens overwhelmingly rejected the Bond. Now four months later, claiming that the bond, that would not have provided any funds to Sharon and Windsor Elementary is why they are being shut down makes no sense. It simply is not true. Last fall, we held an election to see if our citizens wanted to form a new school district. At that point in time, Alpine School District had already shut down three of our schools, Geneva Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, and Polaris High School.
There was a very active debate about whether Alpine would close more. Some citizens claimed that if they opposed the split, their schools would be saved. Now we don’t have to speculate anymore. It’s only been four months since that election, and we were just informed two more schools are being shut down.
As a community, this is a significant problem. Closing schools disrupts our kids, displaces school employees, and hurts property values in the nearby neighborhoods. It is like taking a wrecking ball to your community. Furthermore, it disrespects those who bought homes and invested in real estate in these areas. Many of you paid the taxes to build these five schools. So why is the School District allowed to tear them down, sell off the land, and spend your money where “they” see fit? Why do you have no voice in your school’s future?
Even though our city’s demographics will ebb and flow over time, once our schools are shut down and sold, that property is gone forever. Often,
closing schools is the first step toward creating blighted neighborhoods and declining areas of town. As your elected officials, we will continue to try and protect your neighborhoods. We will continue to do everything we can to protect your schools. But at the end of the day, you must get involved and let your voice be heard.
Four months after the election, we are now $90 Million more in debt, and two more of our schools are being shut down. The obvious question
is, “Whose School is Next?” I encourage you to get involved. Reach out to like-minded people. Contact your elected officials and attend City Council meetings. You have been hit with five school closures so far and more unnecessary debt. Unfortunately, more of the same is coming – unless you get involved soon and start helping to protect your schools.
See you next month!