Faced with dwindling student enrollment, Granite School District moved Tuesday night to close three elementary schools.
The district’s board of education decided unanimously on Twin Peaks, Spring Lane and Millcreek elementaries. That came after the fall student population report showed the district losing 1,255 kids across all grades.
The pushback from parents has been swift and loud.
Several moms and dads accused the school district of bias, saying it intentionally picked schools that have large minority and low-income populations. Others said they were worried the consolidation would overcrowd their kids’ current school. A few named other schools they wanted shut down instead.
The school district acknowledged that it’s not pleasant for anyone to close schools and said it specifically tried not to impact already vulnerable populations with the closures. But Steve Hogan, the director of planning and boundaries for Granite, said district leaders have to act.
Karyn Winder, the president of the board said Tuesday: “We have listened to all groups and all sides. You have been heard. It’s just a tough vote that we have to take tonight.”
The district previously closed three elementary schools in 2019. And it shuttered Granite High in 2009. The population in its boundaries is aging, and many families are electing to go to charter schools instead.
Here’s a breakdown of the demographics at the three schools being closed — as well as two others that were on the list for consideration.
1. Twin Peaks Elementary
• Address: 5325 S. 1045 East, Salt Lake City
• Population: 240 students
• Enrollment decline since 2017: 141 fewer students
Twin Peaks has a student body that is 57% minority and 43%, specifically, that is Latino.
Based on family income, 59% of the students are considered economically disadvantaged.
Additionally, of those who live in Twin Peaks’ boundaries, only 51% are choosing to go there. That means half of the kids in the neighborhood are selecting to go to other schools instead.
The school, along with Spring Lane, was recommended for closure in all three of the plans put forward by the district’s population study committee.
2. Spring Lane Elementary
• Address: 5325 S. 1700 East, Holladay
• Population: 280 students
• Enrollment decline since 2017: 262 fewer students
This elementary has 40% students of color and 14% who are Latino.
Its student body is 44% from low-income families.
Those living in the boundaries of Spring Lane is the same as Twin Peaks, at 51%.
Most students now attending Spring Lane would be moved to Oakwood Elementary; the Chinese dual immersion program currently operated at Spring Lane would continue at Oakwood.
3. Millcreek Elementary
• Address: 3761 S. 1100 East, Millcreek
• Population: 305 students
• Enrollment decline since 2017: 160 fewer students
Millcreek Elementary has 52% of students who are from racial and ethnic backgrounds, including 38% who are Latino.
Of the three schools, it has the highest percentage of those who are economically disadvantaged, at 60%.
At the same time, Millcreek has the smallest percentage of students living in boundaries for the school. Only 48% of those in the neighborhood attend the elementary.
It is also the oldest building of the schools being considered. The elementary was built in 1955. And it has the smallest square footage of the spaces looked at.
The dual immersion program there would be combined with the existing Spanish program at William Penn Elementary, where Millcreek students who go with the closure. This was a major spot of contention for parents.
But Hogan said that 100 of the 127 families in the dual immersion program at Millcreek have said they will move to Penn.
“Penn already has the teachers and structure and support in place,” he added.
Two other schools considered
The district also looked at possibly closing Moss Elementary and Lincoln Elementary.
Moss, in Millcreek, has 470 students and 73% are students of color. Of its population, 74% come from low-income households.
Lincoln, in South Salt Lake, has 408 students this fall. It has a minority population at 79%. The students who are economically disadvantaged there account for 70% of those enrolled.
That makes both of them more diverse than the schools being closed.
The district has also said that closing Moss and Lincoln would require adding more buses to existing routes to transport students to their new elementaries.
Additionally, more of the students who attend Moss and Lincoln live within their school’s boundaries than do at Twin Peaks, Spring Lane or Millcreek elementaries. Moss has 90% of kids in boundaries; Lincoln has 78%. That’s a strong indicator of continued enrollment with the families in those neighborhoods.