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Canyons approves boundaries; westside Draper residents not included in new school

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 15 2011 11:39 p.m. MST

SANDY — The Canyons School Board approved new boundaries for the district's high schools Tuesday in a 4-3 vote, rejecting two amendments that would have sent more of Draper's students to a new high school being built in the city.

Despite more than a dozen comments made by residents on Draper's west side, the board approved new maps that will send much of the city's high school students to the new high school, while the areas west of I-15 will continue to attend Jordan High.

"We've been to everything we were supposed to go to … and we're still not being heard," west-side resident Julie Macey said. "We come every week... and you still don't believe us or you don't care."

Some west-side parents want to see their children attend the new school rather than take long bus rides to farther-north Jordan High. Others said they think the board is acting in bad faith by rebuilding Sandy schools that will remain below capacity when most of the district's growth is in Draper.

The three board members who opposed the proposal, which the board tentatively adopted two weeks ago, said they didn't feel right about ignoring west-side Draper residents.

"How many petitions, how many signatures… does it take to really convince (us) that this is the will of the people," asked board member Paul McCarty, who voted against the adopted map. "I am totally convinced that the vast majority of the residents on the west side of Draper want to come to this school."

Board member Kim Horiuchi said a driving force for the new high school was accommodating the district's academic decision to move all ninth-graders into high schools and convert the district's junior highs into middle schools. The new high school was never intended to be a school that would house the entire city's teenagers.

"Our purpose and responsibility and mission is completely different than Draper City's," Horiuchi said. "It's not an east and west issue. I'm worried about the capacity of the new high school."

Some parents argued that there is a disproportionate number of schools in Sandy, where population is declining, yet not a single middle school in Draper, which has seen tremendous growth.

"There are 14,000 kids in Draper that need to have schools in their community," said resident Jared Pierce.

Pierce developed a map the board voted on Tuesday that would have sent more west-siders to the new high school. Pierce's boundaries failed 3-4. He said he suspects there were political motives for the board's decision.

"We want to know why you are making the decisions you are and we're going to get to the bottom of it," he said, referencing an open records request he has filed for email correspondence and other documents related to the board's internal discussions.

Board President Tracy Cowdell said he has indeed listened to the concerns of residents, and hopes the district will be able to address their concerns as Canyons moves forward. He said there are definitely possibilities for new schools on the west side, and the school already owns property in the city.

"I anticipate that that is certainly in the future," he said. "It won't be tonight and it won't be tomorrow, but it will be soon."

The board also unanimously approved new elementary boundaries.

Board member Kevin Cromar, who voted against the adopted boundaries, said it comes down to a sense of community and continuity for children.

"I think too may of us have forgotten what it's like to be a middle school age child. ... They just know their friends are going to the school and they're not," Cromar said. "Unfortunately, I-15 has become almost like a Berlin Wall in the valley."

Cowdell said he can empathize with the residents who have voiced their concerns, but the board couldn't feasibly give every resident an ideal boundary for their kids. Ultimately, most residents in the district are pleased with the board's efforts.

"I realize that some people are going to be left out of that and not like it, but that's just the reality of it," he said. "The majority of the district is very satisfied."

The board will vote next month on middle school boundary proposals.

Email: mfarmer@desnews.com

Twitter: mollyfarmer

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