Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News
Alpine District aims to replace Orem High with a larger facility if a $225 million bond is approved.

OREM — Alpine school bosses are mulling plans to raze Orem High School and rebuild the school on its current site — if a proposed $225 million bond issuance is approved by voters in November.

Alpine School District officials say plans for Orem High — discussed Tuesday at a meeting right before the regular school board meeting — are not in response to a petition signed by some 1,000 Orem residents requesting that Orem schools pull away from Alpine and form a city district.

District spokeswoman Jerrilyn Mortensen said the Orem High proposal was in the works "before that (petition to split from the district) hit the press."

"It was one of the things that patrons asked for during those information meetings during the last part of March, first part of April," Mortensen said.

Plans for a new Orem High are part of a revised list of projects that would be done if the bond proposal curries favor with voters.

Alpine chiefs say property taxes won't go up if the bond passes because growth will help spread around the cost of paying back the debt.

A new Orem High would cost about $27 million — and that could mean fewer new elementary and middle schools than originally planned with bond money, officials said.

Board members Christine Hannemann and Donna Barnes expressed concern that Lehi and Lone Peak high schools, which will not get additions if the projects on the revised list are approved in November, will become overcrowded with the growing number of high schoolers in the north part of Utah County, the fastest growing part of the district.

Fifty-year-old Orem High has been expanded seven times. And between 2002 and 2004, the district spent $4.6 million for an addition and upgrades.

"I would not be in favor of having Orem High torn down and being rebuilt in light of millions of dollars they put into it," said Orem City Councilman Dean Dickerson, who is open to a split from Alpine.

Patching up the school is not a solution, according to district leaders.

In March 2002, the district attempted to remodel and seismically upgrade Forbes Elementary School in American Fork and discovered it was more efficient to rebuild. The case is the same at Orem High, Alpine Board President JoDee Sundberg said.

Also Tuesday, board members discussed a 30-question telephone survey Insight Research will start Friday. Some 600 surveys will be taken proportionally in each of the eight cities in the district.

The district did a telephone survey five years ago, before the last bond issuance, said Alpine Superintendent Vern Henshaw.

Two draft questions that board members debated asked about Orem and possibly Lindon and Cedar Hills splitting from Alpine District.

Barnes wondered whether even suggesting the Orem split would fuel the momentum of the group that wants the division.

Henshaw believes that the district needs to gauge how serious residents in Orem, Lindon and Cedar Hills are about splitting.

The draft questions will be revised before Friday.


Orem High School

Student enrollment: 1,330

Grades: 10-12

Year built: 1956

Classrooms: 75 classrooms, 3 gyms, a shop building with 3 classrooms

Auditorium: capacity: 950


E-mail: [email protected]