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Parents meet as Granite School District elementary faces potential closure

Posted at 10:02 PM, Sep 13, 2023

KEARNS, Utah — Parents and school employees packed into Western Hills Elementary School Wednesday night to have their voice heard.

It was part of a Granite School District Boundary and Closure Study community meeting.

Ben Horsley, a spokesman for the district says the study process began back in February, with a variety of different proposals, in anticipation of closing one or two schools in the area.

He says they evaluated about 27 schools in this particular region, out of about 60 elementary schools. Horsley says they narrowed the scope of that study after public comment in March and proposed that Western Hills Elementary School would be closed, starting in the 2024-25 school year.

Right now, Horsley says, the school has 12 teachers and 275 students from kindergarten to fifth grade.

"We are about half of what we want to have in a school building right now with this current population size," said Horsley.

Horsley says there are opportunities lost when schools get too small. He says that can be debilitating to the teachers to provide quality instruction and challenging for parents.

"At the end of the day we want a plan that the community can get behind, nobody likes closing a school, I don't like it either, but unfortunately when you are looking at doing what is in the best interest of kids, sometimes we have to make change and sometimes we have to do hard things," said Horsley.

Parents lined up to ask questions and voice their concerns over the proposed closure. One person even asked officials from the district to wait another year to make sure they are making the right decision.

FOX 13 News spoke with Trisha Aguirre, who has a second grader who attends Western Hills Elementary School.

"Initially, I wasn't too worried until I heard the proposal itself with them having to go to Silver Hills, I'm sure Silver Hill is a great school, but it crosses 5600 West, it would be quite a walk for my seven-year-old," said Aguirre. "We really truly feel like they've already made their decision."

The meeting tonight, Horsley said, could be the start of many more meetings in the future.

He says a final recommendation on this proposed closure would likely come before the school board in November or December.

Horsley says enrollment in the district is down 20,000 students since they hit their peak in the early-1990s, with almost 78,000 kids.

He says they have had to close five or six schools in the past five or six years.