Parents opposed to year-round school for Canyon Crest Elementary students scored a victory Wednesday when the Provo School Board agreed to place the supercharged issue on next week's board meeting agenda.
Some 150 parents got the word at a meeting at the school, 4664 Canyon Road, Wednesday night that took on a patriotic fervor reminiscent of recent pro-U.S. troops rallies. Alan Osmond, who lives in the area, provided a sound system that blared out patriotic songs as the meeting began and "God Bless the U.S.A." as it ended. A red, white and blue banner reading, "A voice, a choice," hung in the auditorium.The meeting was organized in response to the board's reaffirmation last week of a January decision to place Canyon Crest on year-round school starting in July. The school board implemented the program to ease overcrowding at the school.
Parents have myriad gripes about the year-round system, including a belief that it will be expensive and disruptive to family life.
Paul Evans, who emceed the meeting and has two daughters that attend Canyon Crest, reacted to the latest announcement with "guarded optimism." Evans is a member of Citizens for Canyon Crest, a group opposing the year-round program. "We hope that it portends a decision by the school board that would reflect the concerns and the majority of the parents that live in this area," he said. Evans and other parents want a one-year study period to evaluate options to the four-track, year-round schedule.
At last week's meeting, board member Ken Clark suggested it would be better to wait a year to let parents and school officials more fully examine the issue. Clark was the only board member opposed to the board's reaffirmation of the January vote.
Board President Mossi White said Wednesday she doesn't know what the board will do when it meets again next Tuesday night.
"I'm not speculating on that. I think it is significant that it is back on the agenda," she said.
White would not divulge whether her position had changed, but said, "My personal feeling is that it is an absolute necessity that we dialogue."
School Superintendent Kay Laurson called the five board members asking them to put the issue on the agenda. "I got varying degrees of feelings, but enough to put it on," he said.
While it will likely take a reversal of the board decision to appease angry parents, they said having the chance to discuss it is a starting point. Parents say the board made its decision without adequately informing them of its intentions.
If the board "refuses to acknowledge the majority in any area, they are not our representatives," said LaVorn Sparks, who has two children attending Canyon Crest.
To publicly display citizen outrage, Sparks, the owner of an advertising agency, and several other business owners, bought a billboard that can be seen by northbound traffic on I-15 between the two Lehi exits. The three-line sign reads: "Provo School Board Rejects Democracy. We Demand Change. End Taxation Without Representation."
At the meeting, John Updike urged parents to support a bill before the Utah Legislature that would permit recall elections of municipal elected officials. He said he'd like it to include school board members.
Parents have been busy calling elected leaders at all levels of Utah government.
In a Feb. 20 letter to Jacque De Gaston, Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, wrote, "I strongly favor local involvement and control of education by parents. Since parents have the responsibility for their children's education, they should also have the maximum authority to regulate and control it."
Parents said they want to be involved in their children's education. They also want the school board to listen to them.
"We are listening. Unequivocally listening," White said.