OREM -- Alpine School District officials denied public access to a planning meeting Friday during which a 30-member volunteer committee drafted a proposal to change the boundaries of six Orem elementary schools.

Alpine Assistant Superintendent Gary Seastrand said district officials did not want committee members to feel pressured by vocal parents while voting on a recommendation for Alpine's school board.A proposal will be offered by the committee to the elected school board at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Alpine's district offices, 575 N. 100 East, American Fork.

Board members vote on the boundary changes Jan. 12.

Two parents and a Deseret News reporter were told to leave Friday's 4 p.m. meeting.

Seastrand said legal counsel has advised administrators that the closure of the meeting does not violate the state's open-meeting laws because the committee is working in an advisory capacity and is not charged with making decisions on the public's behalf.

"Decisions made here are non-binding," Seastrand said. "The boundary changes are totally up to the school board. I've seen them mix it up and make their own boundary changes after recommendations are made."

"We're confident we are well within the law," said district spokesman Michael Robinson.

Utah's open meeting laws, however, define a public body as "any administrative, advisory, executive or legislative body of the state or its political subdivisions."

Public bodies also should hold meetings in open forums if it is "supported in whole or in part by tax revenue," according to the state statute. Seastrand, principals and teachers on the committee are paid with tax revenue.

Jeff Hunt, attorney for Utah's Society of Professional Journalists, believes the meeting should have been open to concerned parents and district patrons because the committee, working in an advisory capacity, is a public body.

Boundary changes are being made to prepare for next year's opening of a $6.5 million elementary school. It will be built at approximately 950 North and 1250 East.

Shake-ups at Northridge, Rocky Mountain, Sharon, Cascade, Windsor and Orchard elementaries are an attempt to balance the enrollment numbers at each of the schools. All are currently operating above capacity.

Four realignment options, written by the committee in November, were given to the school board and the public on Nov. 24. Seastrand also hosted three public hearings on the four proposals this week at Orchard.

More than 200 parents and teachers attended the hearings each night to voice concern about the proposals, some of which would require children to cross busy 1600 North.

A parent-generated boundary proposal, introduced to district officials Thursday as the "Gold Plan," would keep children who live north of 1600 North at Rocky Mountain and Northridge. The other schools could then be split to decrease enrollments and form a new student body for the new building.

Four new schools will be built with funds from a $60-million general obligation bond issuance. Passage of the bond and $6.9 million leeway increased annual taxes on $100,000 property $63.50 over three years.

Parent JaLee Clarke, whose children attend Northridge, said her biggest concern about being barred from the meeting is not being able to see the final recommendation until the board discusses the issue Tuesday.

Clarke had heard the district would close Friday's meeting and did not try to gain entrance. She attended all three hearings this week, staying until 11 p.m. each night.

Steve Moran and Blair Treu, parents of students at Northridge, attempted to attend the meeting to find out why the committee voted for a particular plan. Joining Clarke, both Moran and Treu support the parent-driven "Gold Plan."

"It's not perfect," Clarke said, "but it is another way of looking at things."