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ALPINE MAY HAVE 3-YEAR WAIT FOR ITS NEW SCHOOLS

SHARE ALPINE MAY HAVE 3-YEAR WAIT FOR ITS NEW SCHOOLS

Even though property taxes are rising in the Alpine School District as a result of the $98 million school-construction bond, they may not see the dividends, or new schools, for three more years.

In June, voters approved undertaking $98 million in general obligation bonds by an almost 2-1 margin, 5,263 to 3,111. That will cost the average homeowner $88 per year in new property taxes.The bond money will be used to build as many as eight new schools or renovate existing schools to hold more students. The Alpine School Board will issue $73 million this year to construct two new high schools and two new elementaries, one of each in the American Fork-Alpine-Highland and Orem-Lindon areas.

However, even if construction on those schools begins this fall, classes might not begin in the elementaries until fall 1996, and the high schools might not open until fall 1997, Superintendent Steven Baugh said.

"People are expecting us to turn earth July 1," Baugh said. "But we're going to be working on a tight time frame. They may think we're taking our time, but things are moving."

Already, the district has acquired land necessary for construction of the two American Fork area schools and one of the Orem schools. District leaders also should begin the bidding process for architects sometime this month.

If the architects are selected by the end of the month, planning and sketches could take another two months. With another bidding process required for contractors, construction on the schools may not begin until October.

According to Baugh, contractors have indicated that elementary schools take one to two years for construction, while high schools take two to three years.

"The time line hasn't been firmly established yet," Baugh said. "Some contractors have said we could get into a new elementary school maybe even in just a year. We're hoping to get everything done quickly, but also get it done right."

Also, should construction costs remain low, Alpine may have $5 million from the first bond issue remaining for new construction and renovations at other district schools. However, officials will probably not plan to spend that money, at least until the two elementary schools are built.

The district will issue the remaining $25 million in 1997. That money will be used for a combination of new school construction - perhaps as many as four new elementary schools could also be built before the turn of the century - and districtwide renovations.

In the meantime, the Alpine School Board recently took several actions to relieve crowding in Orem, American Fork and Pleasant Grove schools.

Board members passed temporary boundary changes for schools in the Orem-Lindon and American Fork-Alpine-Highland areas and extended an open-enrollment policy that allows secondary students from Alpine and Highland to attend less-crowded secondary schools in the Lehi area. These policies will continue until the schools are built.