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New home for Alpine school?

UVSC eviction may lead to permanent site for high school

OREM — Utah Valley State College has handed Alpine School District an eviction notice — but that may mean the district's alternative high school could move to a permanent house.

A 10-year lease of four acres on the northwest edge of campus, where Alpine's Life and Learning Center has operated since 1994, will end in 2004. UVSC does not plan to renew the lease.

As a result, district officials must now either move the portable units that house the alternative high school and adult-education courses or invest in bricks and mortar for a permanent location.

Alpine's Board of Education appears to favor constructing a new multimillion-dollar building for the Life and Learning Center — even though Alpine bought the $700,000 portable units with the intention of moving them to a new location when the UVSC lease expired.

The school board included plans for a new building for the alternative school on a "priority list" of projects that would be funded if voters on May 8 approve a proposal to issue a $200 million bond.

Property taxes on a $150,000 house will increase $100 over a four-year period if the public-financing proposal gains passage.

Justin Keetch, principal of the learning center, said the UVSC location has benefitted students, many of whom enroll each semester in both vocational training courses and programs leading to a four-year degree.

Nearly 5,000 students this year will be served at the learning center, which provides help to students who struggle in structured, mainstream classes. Adult-education courses also are offered.

"Like most locations, it has its positives and negatives," Keetch said of the site at 1165 W. 800 South. "It's been good to be so near the college and the freeway."

Keetch said a future site for the alternative school has yet to be decided. It's also unknown if the space-strapped college will buy the portable units from the district for classrooms or office space.

Val Peterson, a UVSC associate vice president for college relations, said college officials talked briefly with the district about buying the units.

But the open-enrollment college, which is dealing with runaway growth, is mostly concerned about parking spaces for the campus.

The land where the center now stands may be converted into a parking lot or used to accommodate road re-configurations, he said.

The land-lease agreement was signed when the 17,000-student school was not experiencing double-digit enrollment surges each year, said Doug Warner, a UVSC vice president.

"That was over in Never-Never Land," Warner said. "Well, Never-Never Land has gotten a lot closer."

UVSC plans to build a parking lot on eight acres on the north side of 800 South this year. Some 800 new parking slots will help meet the demand for parking when events are held at the McKay Events Center during the school year.

"We have found that we are short of meeting the demand when we have activities (at the McKay Events Center) during school," Peterson said. "We've had several days during the year when that was the case."