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Alpine School District officials grilled over notifying parents about school closures

Posted at 4:11 PM, Jun 12, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Alpine School District board members, along with the superintendent, were subpoenaed to appear in front of Utah lawmakers Monday regarding school closures.

The subpoena issued last month is a move that does not happen often, and came after officials failed to attend a similar meeting in May. Lawmakers say the issue is not about closing schools, something they realize must be done, but rather about how the district notified parents.

State statute requires 120 days as a notification process. School board members testified that it was back in December when they started the review process of some of the schools that were to be closed down.

Superintendent Dr. Shane Farnsworth was not in attendance at the committee meeting, with legal counsel appearing in his absence and explaining how there is ongoing litigation and not questions could be answered.

Since the process started, the district has held a number of open houses, online comments, public hearings and that boundary readjustments and school openings and closures happen all the time in the massive and growing district.

"Since the law was passed in 2019, Alpine School District has undergone 11 boundary changes, one school closure that impacted 32 schools," said Julie King, vice president of the Alpine school board. "So this is a process that we’ve gone through several times and that’s not considering any of the schools that are being considered currently.

"We have schools that are on a watch list. We look at enrollment projections. We look at school safety, seismic issues, building utilizations."

During the packed hearing, there were audible snickers and even some applause at some of the back-and-forth between the board and members of the committee.

The district's board members are scheduled to vote June 30 on the closures of the schools. There was no public comment made Monday on Capitol Hill, but anyone is welcome to have their voices heard when the issue is turned over to an education committee.