The 1995-96 school year will be a transition year, but the following year, both Brockbank and Jefferson junior high schools will return to a traditional nine-month school calendar.
The Granite Board of Education voted Tuesday night for a return to the standard schedule based on figures that show declining populations at the two schools over the next five years.The board put the schools on year-round schedules four years ago when overcrowding became intolerable. The move created considerable controversy in the two school neighborhoods. However, surveys taken among parents, students and faculty over the past few months showed surprisingly strong support for the year-round concept, especially if overcrowding is going to persist.
Board member Lynn Davidson said the board should move cautiously, especially in the Jefferson decision, since housing construction in the area could again overload the school and create the same situation that led to the year-round calendar in the first place. He said there is potential for a large housing development in the Jefferson area over the next couple of years.
"The worst possible thing we could do would be to go off (the year-round schedule) and then have to go back on," he said.
"We have to reserve the right to change our minds," agreed Associate Superintendent Riley O'Neil. The one-year transition period will be used to carefully assess growth and other factors that could affect the ultimate decision, he said.
Board President Robert Arnold voted against the proposal because he favors taking Jefferson off the year-round schedule next year. Sentiment for a traditional calendar at the Kearns school is greater than at Brockbank, which is located in Magna. Jefferson is a newer building with more open space. The overcrowding is not as onerous as at Brockbank - a smaller, older building.
The district will consider construction of new secondary schools on the west side of the valley after current bonded indebtedness is paid off in 1996-97.
O'Neil said the cost of maintaining the two schools on year-round calendars has been just over $700,000 per year. But that almost exactly offsets the ongoing fixed costs of new buildings, if they had been constructed to deal with the overcrowding, he said. The higher costs relate to extended teacher contracts, busing, maintenance and utilities.
The schools will have to have temporary relocatables on their grounds for the next few years until the expected enrollment decline catches up with actual building capacity. Boundary adjustments also may be made to divide the student population more evenly among west-side junior high schools to handle student numbers for the foreseeable future, O'Neil said.
Parents who chose to have their children bused to east-side junior high schools rather than go on the year-round schedule indicated they favor continuing that arrangement. The option is costing the district approximately $45,000 per year.