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Alpine asking voters to OK $210M school bond

Published August 16, 2011 9:39 pm

Education • Money would pay for new grade schools, a middle school and high school.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

American Fork • Alpine School District will ask taxpayers this fall whether they are willing to pitch in $210 million to build new schools and renovate old ones.

On Tuesday, the school board unanimously approved placing the construction bond on the Nov. 8 ballot. The district plans to build four elementary schools, a middle school in Eagle Mountain and a high school in Lehi to make room for 10,000 more students joining the district in the next five years.

The bond also would pay to renovate 13 additional schools to add space and to address safety concerns, primarily earthquake-proofing.

About 70 percent of residents would vote for the measure, according to a district survey. But severalresidents at Tuesday's meeting spoke against the bond, which would cost the owner of a $224,500 home $36 a year.

Elaine Augustine, a mother of seven, urged the district to move toward a pay-as-you-go system when it comes to building schools. She said she would be willing to support the bond if the district could save enough money to not need to bond again.

"Our family is growing faster than our income," she said. "We can't afford for the school board to come to us taxpayers every four or five years asking for more money from us."

Alpine, which serves 66,000 students in northern Utah County from Orem to Lehi, has experienced explosive growth the past decade and expects to add another 2,000 students each year for the next. Taxpayers picked up the tab for a $200 million bond in 2001 and a $230 million bond in 2006 to build schools. But if this new bond is approved, the district's debt will peak at $384 million in 2016 as old debts are paid off.

Board member Terry Peterson empathized with Augustine's concerns, noting he has six children.

"We don't want to pay any more money, and I understand that," he said. "But we kind of have bigger families in this area and we like kids and there's a cost to that."

Ellen Hawkins, past PTA president at Cascade Elementary, is "thrilled" the district plans to fix a congested drop-off area at her school this year — even though the project did not make the bond list.

She hopes voters approve the measure.

"The growth is going to get out of control if schools aren't built and schools aren't renovated," Hawkins said after the meeting. "Real learning takes place when a teacher can teach in optimal circumstances — [not when] students have to suffer through crowded classrooms."

rwinters@sltrib.com

Davis OKs tax hike

The Davis School Board approved an $8.5 million tax increase Tuesday. The increase will add $68 a year to the property-tax bill for a $200,000 home. —

What Alpine bond would fund

Four elementary schools at yet-to-be-determined locations

A new middle school in Eagle Mountain

A new high school at 3200 North and Center Street in Lehi

Alpine Elementary, seismic upgrades

American Fork High, new classroom wing, drop-off area, main gym

Cherry Hill Elementary, new construction of majority of school

Sego Lily Elementary, seismic upgrades

Westmore Elementary, new construction of majority of school

American Fork Junior High, addition of 14 to 16 classrooms

Lehi Junior High, new parking and drop-off on north side

Orem Junior High, new main gym and technical-education classrooms

Pleasant Grove High, new main gym, athletic facility, dance and fitness classrooms

Lone Peak High, new fitness classrooms

Scera Park Elementary, new parking and student drop off on 400 East

Timpanogos High, new fitness classrooms

Grovecrest Elementary, new construction of portion of school