SOUTH SALT LAKE CITY — The Granite School District Board of Education took the first steps Tuesday that could mean the closure of Westbrook Elementary School in Taylorsville and Carl Sandburg Elementary School in West Valley City.

The board voted unanimously to accept the direction of the district’s population analysis committee, which called for the closure of Sandburg, located at located at 3900 S. Rancho Vista Lane, and Westbrook at 3451 W. 6200 South, at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

The recommendations were approved on first reading and will be considered for final passage during the board’s Dec. 3 meeting. The board will conduct a public hearing during the meeting prior to voting on the proposals.

Board President Karyn Winder acknowledged the pain of school closures for the affected communities as well as the school board.

“Nobody is celebrating up here. Nobody likes to close a school,” she said.

Board member Connie Anderson said she lived through the closure of Granite High School, her longtime neighborhood school where she was an alumnus and later taught. Her daughter attended taught there, too.

“I only say this in the nicest way. There’s still a part of me that’s angry,” she said.

“Sometimes changes are necessary. Sometimes they push us forward,” Anderson said.

She called on the Jackling Elementary School community to fully embrace Sandburg students who would be displaced by the proposed closure. “Make them feel welcome, involve them, love them,” she asked.

Initially, both Sandburg and neighboring Jackling Elementary School were under consideration for potential closure.

Jackling is a Title I school, which means it receives additional federal resources intended to enhance educational opportunities for disadvantaged students. Its enrollment is about 350 students. This school year, Sandburg’s enrollment dropped to 245 students.

Both schools were built in the 1960s, but according to the school district’s facility condition index — with 1 being the worst and 100 the best of all Granite School District buildings — Sandburg ranks eighth while Jackling ranks 61st.

Sandburg may be rebuilt in the future. It was identified for rebuild in 2025 under the $238 million bond passed by voters in 2017. Now, the population analysis committee has recommended that the school close and the board possibly ratify the recommendation. That decision would be in the hands of a future board.

“Rebuilding Sandburg Elementary is still a possibility as part of the rebuild list, and I believe that a future board should have the option of evaluating that site down the road. This vote recognizes the importance of being fiscally responsible while maintaining future options for the board to rebuild on the Sandburg site down the road,” Winder said.

Westbrook parents urged the board to hold off from making a decision about school closure and spend more time studying other options.

Taylorsville parent Kaleb Knobel said much of the process occurred during the summer when parents and community members were not as engaged or available. The initial open house at the school discussed a boundary change, not a possible school closure, leaving parents with “a major sense of betrayal.”

In the last five minutes of the summertime open house, a parent asked about rumors of possible school closure. The discussion was short-lived. By fall, the open house focused on the possibility of school closure, Knobel said.

Kari Montoya, who has students at Westbrook and other neighborhood schools, said Westbrook works best for her family because of the faculty and cohesive nature of the school community.

“The entire staff is welcoming and loving at Westbrook. There’s a sense of family in the school. They address the needs of each student, not just the classrooms,” she said.

The proposed closure of Westbrook surfaced as the school district has labored to eliminate school boundaries that straddle Bangerter Highway. The highway has undergone updates in several locations adding freeway-style interchanges intended to improve traffic flows and enhance safety for drivers and pedestrians.

The district plans to open a new South Kearns Elementary in 2020, which could increase its enrollment from 325 students to 600 in the new building.

Between the opening of South Kearns and the proposed closure of Westbrook, boundaries of nearby schools would need to be adjusted.

Knobel raised concerns that the changes will result in hazardous walking routes for students, which was another reason to postpone making a final decision.

Winder reminded patrons that the board’s action Tuesday was a first reading of the proposals.

Montoya said she feared the public process was just a formality and the decision is already in place.

“We just ask the school board not to rubber stamp this decision,” she said.