Lehi will have a third junior high when the 2021-2022 school year starts, and on Wednesday, Nov. 4, parents got their first look at the proposed boundaries for the new school. Lehi Junior High and Willowcreek Middle School are bursting at the seams, and while another junior high will relieve the pressure, but not everyone is happy with the proposed changes.
“It’s a good sign to the district that people are connected to their schools, the principals and teachers. If no one showed up to the meetings and made comments, that would mean they don’t care. People are passionate about their schools, and change is always hard,” said David Stephenson, Administrator of Public Relations for Alpine School District (ASD).
Parents of students who will be affected by the boundary changed received an email on Nov. 4 with maps and details and a survey to complete. Representatives from ASD were on hand at an open house at Lehi Junior High (LJHS) on Nov. 4 and Willowcreek Middle School (WMS) on Nov. 5 to answer questions for those who came in person. Parents had a deadline of midnight, Sunday, Nov. 8, to complete the survey.
“We’ve already had a thousand people take the survey,” Stephenson said late in the afternoon on Nov. 5. “From here, the Boundary Committee and Administration Cabinet will analyze the feedback and make final recommendations to the ASD Board.”
Dozens of parents took to social media to either vent frustration or express approval of the proposed changes.
“I am extremely disappointed in the boundary proposal. I don’t understand why they would split two elementary schools into different junior highs only to send them back to the appropriate high school, splitting them from friends again,” said Sarah Kimmel.
Under the proposed plan, half of Dry Creek Elementary students will go to LJHS, and the other half will go to WMS, but all Dry Creek students will attend Lehi High School. A portion of Eaglecrest Elementary students will attend LJHS instead of the new school. For the first few years, WMS will have the fewest students, and LJHS will have the most, but that will change as more and more neighborhoods are built in the northwest and northeast parts of town.
“There is an unfair socioeconomic pattern to their choices, and it’s not okay,” said Keri Mallory, a parent of an eighth grader at WMS who will go to LJHS for ninth grade. “They did that to Lehi Elementary too. I know my family only has one year left to deal with junior high, but I care about my community.”
Mallory and others who will switch from WMS to LJHS under the plan would rather see the east and north boundaries for Willowcreek at State Street and 2100 North. “I’d rather have my son in a school with a slightly bigger student body than bounce him back and forth. Let him stay with the kids he’ll be going to high school with,” said Mallory.
“Surprisingly, I think they did a good job with the boundaries, and yes, my kids go to an elementary school that will be split up. I think the proposed boundaries make sense, although I do wish they would leave ninth-graders at Skyridge,” commented Whitney Larson. Ninth graders who live within LJHS boundaries have been attending Skyridge since the new high school opened in the fall of 2016. Beginning in fall 2021, the ninth graders will be back at LJHS.
“My kids go to Eaglecrest, and I am fine with this proposal. When you go to junior high, you make new friends. That is life,” said Erin Barnett.
“Growing up, my elementary school split to different junior highs and then my junior high split to different high schools. I enjoyed having friends from different schools and making new friends. Boundary changes will never make everyone happy, but it worked out okay from my experience,” added Julie Wayman.
The ASD Board of Education will vote on the final school boundaries after receiving recommendations from the Boundary Committee and the Administrative Cabinet.