Overcrowding in some of Granite District's west-side schools has become a priority problem.
Junior high schools in particular are facing enrollments that will exceed their capacity over the next few years.A more immediate problem is at Granger Elementary School, where more than 900 students are straining the school's facilities. The school has only four restrooms for students, its lunch room is too small and classroom capacity has reached a limit.
Several parents from the Granger neighborhood told the Granite Board of Education earlier this week that they would like a quick resolution. Parents and educators in the school have been meeting for several weeks to consider options.
The majority of those who addressed the board objected to a move to year-round scheduling, but a survey circulated among parents indicated a majority - 56 percent - prefer that option to either double sessions or transferring some of the Granger students to the Stansbury School.
Jolynn Evans, a Granger parent, asked that the board not spend another year studying the situation and called for cooperation among those concerned to facilitate a change. She said the school suffers from health and safety problems as well as overcrowding.
Another parent, John Peterson, objected to the year-round proposal and said the board has neglected west-side schools. "It's time the district realized that the majority of its students are on the west side of State Street," he said. He suggested some east-side schools be closed and sold to provide for the larger population on the west side.
"We have a shameful situation," Peterson said. "We want a new school, and it is warranted. We can get the money somewhere."
Board Member Lynn Davidson, however, said the district does not show favoritism. He said more than $62 million has been spent on school construction on the west side in the past decade. He also noted that the Utah Legislature has demanded that school districts go to year-round schools rather than spend money on new buildings. The status of a law to that effect was in question and will be researched, he said.
Bonding for new construction affects taxpayers throughout the district and can't be just a local issue, said Board President Judy Larson. In the Granger neighborhood survey, a majority of parents said they would support options that could increase taxes, including building a new wing for the school or a temporary structure to absorb the students until the current bulge goes through.
Twenty percent said they would oppose any new taxes, even if that were an option.
The preference overall, however, was to solve the problem through year-round school, boundary adjustments or double shifts, said Dale Baker, associate director for elementary operations.
School officials and neighborhood representatives will continue to meet and discuss the alternatives with a recommendation to be made at the board's next meeting Feb. 19.
Dianne Hesleph, director of junior high school operations, told the board that Brockbank, Eisenhower, Hunter, Jefferson and Kennedy junior high schools all face serious overcrowding in the next few years. She said a rapid change in west-side demographics has added more students to the schools than anticipated.
The district will study the issues over the next few months, looking at options that may include busing students to less crowded east-side schools, she said.
Granite School District's most crowded school:
Junior high schools that will be overflowing in a few years: