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Alpine board to vote on school bond and leeway

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New elementary schools, more computers and smaller classes.

Members on the Alpine Board of Education may seek to meet such pressing demands of the growing Utah County school district by asking voters to approve an estimated $6.2 million leeway initiative and bond issuance of up to $60 million.The board will make a decision Tuesday on a leeway and bond proposal during a 6 p.m. meeting at the district office, 575 N. 100 East. The vote on the tentative figures follows nearly six months of deliberation.

If the five-member panel agrees to place the measure on a May 5 ballot, residents of the district would be faced with a decision to tack an approximated $57 in additional property taxes on a house valued at $100,000.

The money would be used to build four new schools, renovate and expand existing structures, literacy programs, safety measures and infrastructure needs.

The public is invited to speak for or against the measure. A sign-up sheet to address the board will be available at the door, said Michael Robinson, public information director.

"When we think we are paying too much, we are not. . . . I would double my taxes if I knew a child could walk into a class of 20 and have all fees paid for," said board member Linda Campbell at a town meeting last week. "I would seriously do that."

Alpine, with a $200 million budget, is one of the fastest growing districts in Utah. A current 45,000-student head count is expected to swell to 50,000 by 2002, according to district estimates.

Superintendent Steven C. Baugh told parents during a meeting at Timpanogos High School that parents will be told where a few schools will be built before they are asked to vote for a bond, which would likely be retired in 15 years.

Baugh said board members are thinking about building a new elementary school in Orem, where more than half of the schools are operating on year-round or extended day schedules.

Additional site possibilities also include Highland, Alpine, Vineyard, Lehi and Lindon.

Parents of students who attend school in northeast Orem told the board at last week's meeting they would campaign against the bond issuance if a school isn't planned near Orchard Elementary to ease overcrowding.

The district holds a triple-A credit rating as part of the state's public education system.

Bond issuances aren't foreign territory for parents or officials in the Alpine District.

A $98 million general obligation bond passed in 1994 was allocated to the construction of two new high schools and four elementary schools. A 1992 bond issuance for $30 million also paid for new schools.