Parents worry new Draper high school is already overcrowded
Admitting that student enrollment at the new Corner Canyon High School has been "botched," the Canyons Board of Education will hold a town hall meeting in the next two weeks to discuss what to do next.
Almost 300 students who live outside the school's boundaries have been given permission to attend. With higher-than-expected enrollment from neighborhood teens who have been attending private or charter schools, some parents are worried about overcrowding.
Now the board must decide whether to honor the permits until the out-of-boundary students graduate or annually review the space available. Members will vote after the town hall, which has not been scheduled.
The flagship school in Draper will open this fall with 1,875 students. Corner Canyon Principal Mary Bailey said the new school's capacity is 2,271, but that's using all available space, and Draper's population continues to grow.
Parent Tim Smith told the board this week that he considered it a "contract" when his freshman daughter got a permit to attend the school, where she should be allowed to stay until she graduates.
"We understood this as a four-year commitment," Smith said.
But boundary residents expressed concerns about overcrowding, especially since the school is to have a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focus.
Heather Smith said it's "ridiculous" students from Riverton and Brighton High school areas were given permits. "I'm really frustrated and disappointed how crowded it's already become," Smith said.
Sheila Butterfield, who has five sons, agreed.
"I'm just shocked how full the classroom is before the school year," Butterfield said. "The education of our schoolchildren needs to come first."
Parent Jennifer Vance said students have already lost valuable science labs because they were needed for classrooms.
Enrollment issues have been flaring for a while at the Canyons district, which underwent a yearlong effort to redraw the boundaries for all of its elementary, middle and high schools. The new map goes into effect in fall 2013 when Canyons opens the new high school in Draper and reconfigures its grades, moving sixth-graders into middle schools and ninth-graders into high schools.
Officials have projected enrollment for Corner Canyon High at 1,875 students in 2013; 2,019 in 2014; 2,074 in 2015; and 2,015 in 2016.
Originally, the school's architectural plans called for eight more classrooms, but those were cut in order to keep the school smaller and enrollment down to an 1,800 figure. However, the infrastructure is in place for the eight classrooms, which will cost about $1.5 million to $2 million to build.
Bailey said class sizes will be comparable to other high schools. She said classes will vary, with 26 students in student government; 50 in PE classes; and 35 in the core classes of English, math and science.
"That's not unusual for our district," Bailey said.
Despite concerns from some Canyons board members about creating an east-west rift, Draper's first high school won't include students who live west of Interstate 15.
The new map sends Draper residents west of Interstate 15 to Jordan High but includes east-side Steeplechase students in the new high school. Draper residents between about 12300 South and 11400 South will stay at Alta High.
Superintendent David Doty said at Corner Canyon High, "We're trying to strike a balance to have a school that was large enough for in-boundary [students] initially, as well as accommodate those that wanted to come out of charter schools."