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School boundaries get parents' input

PROVO — Parents of students at Westridge Elementary School want the enrollment to decrease at the Provo school.

Many of the parents who attended a meeting Tuesday night said they are against closing nearby Grandview Elementary School — which is a possibility under a major boundary-realignment proposal — because they fear an ensuing shuffle after its closure would increase enrollment at Westridge. Some 800 children now attend the school.

The Provo District Board of Education and district staff are meeting this week with residents to discuss potential boundary changes that could result in school closures and building of new schools. Residents would ultimately approve the changes at a tentatively-scheduled bond election in June. As much as $30 million in bonds could be issued over 10 years.

About 75 people showed up at the beginning of an open house at Westridge Tuesday night and learned about the boundary-change proposals. They took computer surveys about how they think Provo boundaries should look in the future. Ninety-three people took computer surveys at Timpanogos Elementary on Monday, said Ted Kelly, a district administrator.

"I'm not surprised at how many showed up," Superintendent Randy Merrill said. "What I'm thinking (is) we're getting exactly what we want: lots of input.

Merrill said he will statistically analyze the surveys next week. The surveys will aid the school board in deciding which proposal to advocate and how much money will be needed from bond sales.

As for the proposed bond issuance, district officials say property taxes on a $200,000 home would increase $10 a year for every $5 million in bonds.

The district could lock in an interest rate of 4 percent or less; repayment could take 20 years, said Kerry Smith, the district's business administrator.

Instead of closing Grandview, one of the proposals calls for keeping it open as well as building an elementary school on district property in Provo's northwest Lakeview neighborhood. That would require a permanent tax increase of $13 a year — the cost of operating a new elementary school without closing any other schools, Smith said.

Julie Durrant, the PTA president of Westridge, said many parents also support building a new middle school to replace Dixon Middle School, which residents describe as too crowded and old.

"I think we're all willing to pay $60 a year to get a new middle school," she said.