The Utah State Training School will not be closed or turned over to a private corporation, Superintendent Paul Thorpe assured parents attending a conference of the Mental Retardation Association of Utah.

The former superintendent of the Utah State Hospital said he learned from experience that money is not saved by privatizing.He said mixing a public institution with a for-profit organization won't work.

"Eventually, it is taxpayer money that goes for profit for the for-profit company and with dollars the way they are, we need to spend them in the best way we can," he said.

During a recent interview, Thorpe said the Legislature or the state needs to define the training school's role - the type of individuals it should serve.

"I feel there needs to be a long-term place, such as the training school, where we have the programs, facilities and resources to train individuals who can go out in the state," he said. Once the role of the school is defined, "we can build on that and look to the future, see what services we need, what programs we need."

An employee of the training school from 1972-74, he said there have been significant changes at the school since that time. Clients who were in cribs then and couldn't do anything are now participating in programs.

He said one of the first things the school needs is a system to deal with problems that employees and family members are concerned about.