While this week's announcement by Micron Semiconductor Inc. officials has left many affected agencies and cities in shock, Alpine School District isn't even batting an eye.
In fact, district leaders say the decision by Micron officials to complete only the exterior work on their nearly $2 million Lehi plant, at least for now, won't impact their current school construction plans in the slightest."We're growing rapidly without Micron," said Alpine School Board member Linda Campbell, noting that the district has been scrambling to keep up with residential growth and is building at an unprecedented rate.
Last spring, Alpine District parents voted to support a total of $98 million in bonding in order to carry out new school construction and renovation, which resulted in a corresponding yearly property tax increase of nearly $90 per home. The district issued $73 million in bonds last fall in order to construct two new elementary schools and high schools, with one of each located in the Orem-Lindon and American Fork-Highland areas.
District officials have been waiting to issue the remaining $25 million in bonds, both to lessen the tax increase impact and to see where growth is taking place before they commit to building other new schools.
Superintendent Steven Baugh and his staff prepared a study for board members speculating on future growth and construction needs. That study did not reflect any projected growth from the Micron plant, nor did it include revenue numbers from the Micron economic development agency.
"I'm not sure I'd say we were psychic, but it was just dumb luck that we decided not to count on that money," he said.
Alpine could build as many as three new elementary schools with the funds, but it is likely the board will opt to only build two, Baugh said. The district has already acquired land in Lehi and officials are seriously considering building a new elementary school in the Cedar Hills-Manila area.
Those areas are presenting the biggest challenge for leaders, since Meadow Elementary in Lehi and Manila Elementary in Pleasant Grove are two of the district's most overcrowded schools - with their student populations standing at 908 and 944, respectively.
"The Manila area numbers really jump out at you, don't they?" asked Baugh, adding that the board will probably make its new construction plans in the next two months.
Board members said after the Micron announcement that they're happy for a temporary reprieve but add that the completion and opening of the new plant will actually help the district down the road.
"For now, this will probably benefit Alpine School District. It will give us time to catch up," Board President Guy Fugal said. "But we wish the company well and hope the (computer-chip) industry will turn around to help them get back here and complete the project."