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WEBSTER KIDS MUST MOVE - QUESTION IS WHERE TO

While concurring with an advisory committee's recommendation to close Webster Elementary School, Granite District officials are proposing a different destination for the displaced students.

The committee had suggested the bulk of Webster's 358 students go to Magna Elementary, 8500 W. 3500 South. District officials, however, want to send most of them to Pleasant Green Elementary, 8201 W. 2700 South.In a letter to the Granite Board of Education, Assistant Superintendent Briant J. Farnsworth says, "This plan would disrupt the fewest people and provide optimum learning opportunities for children while leaving more room for growth at Magna Elementary."

The board is expected to vote on the closure and new boundaries at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

Like the committee, the district administration is proposing that Webster be closed at the end of the 1994-95 school year. The alternative is to spend as much as $750,000 to modernize the 87-year-old school and bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Located at 9228 W. 2700 South, the three-story sandstone structure needs an elevator, handicapped access, a seismic upgrade and other improvements. To help it decide whether to fix or close the school, the district sought advice from a committee of residents from the Magna community.

After months of study and a series of public meetings, the committee concluded that it doesn't make sense to pour a lot of money into the obsolete structure. According to the committee, a survey of Magna residents found overwhelming support for closing the school.

However, more than 300 residents - mostly from the Magna Elementary area - did not concur with the committee's proposed boundary changes.

Under the committee's plan, 144 Magna Elementary students would be shifted to Pleasant Green, switching from a traditional school year to a year-round schedule. The opposing group argued Magna Elementary was being unfairly disrupted.

Kathy Thee, who chaired Granite's advisory committee, said the district's recommendation - which was actually the committee's second choice - appears to be a good compromise. The original plan, she conceded, would have made Magna Elementary students a minority in their own school.

It might have also cost many Webster students their federally supported Chapter 1 educational programs, she added.

In the new proposal, only about 50 to 75 Webster students, a group that is currently being bused to school, would go to Magna Elementary. At the same time, some Pleasant Green students who are being bused to their school would be transferred to the closer Copper Hills Elementary, 7635 W. 3715 South.

The biggest adjustment would be for the Webster students, who would be going from the traditional to the year-round schedule, Thee said.

Farnsworth said if Webster is closed, the district should review Magna's school population on a regular basis to determine "when and if a new elementary school should be built."

The district also recommended further study of other issues related to the closure and boundary changes, including busing and the need for sidewalks along some busy streets.