CEDAR HILLS — Cedar Hills is alive with the sound of city officials expressing their dissatisfaction with the Alpine School District.

So far, though, it's just noise.

On Tuesday night, the City Council said it's not ready to jump in with Orem, Pleasant Grove and Lindon and contribute city funds to a feasibility study on splitting from the school district and forming a new one.

At least not yet.

"We're willing to spend some money to look out for the interests for our community," said Councilman Jim Perry. "Do we know how to best spend that money right now? I don't think we do. Therefore, I think it's premature to do that."

Council members said they'd prefer to see Cedar Hills get together with American Fork, Highland and Alpine and conduct a feasibility study of those cities splitting from the district.

"We all agree that we have much more in common with our neighboring cities here in the north end of the county than we do with Orem," Cedar Hills Mayor Mike McGee said. "To me, it makes much more sense to participate in a feasibility study directing questions specifically at the north end of the county."

A law passed during the 2006 legislative session allows cities to break away from large school districts and form smaller ones. Under HB77, cities must conduct a feasibility study and put the new school district on the ballot for voters' approval.

Potential districts must have a population of 65,000, however — about 10,000 more than the estimated combined populations of Cedar Hills, American Fork, Highland and Alpine.

"As soon as we get to 65,000, I think we're gong to leave as well," Councilman Joel Wright said.

But simply splitting from the district likely won't resolve the community's concerns, said Councilman Eric Richardson.

"I want to us to be nimble and I want us to be working with these other (cities), but whoever's left with the name Alpine School District is not the loser," Richardson said.

"Nobody has articulated to me how a split solves the problem," he said. "It changes the dynamic, but it doesn't solve the problem."

Earlier Tuesday, the City Council met with two Alpine School District officials in a work session to discuss some community concerns.

Residents feel the district is too big and that feedback from parents is being ignored, McGee said.

"I'm not anti-Alpine (School District)," he said, "though I think there's always room from improvement. But the No. 1 concern I hear from people is they don't feel like their voices are being heard."

The hourlong question-and-answer session was dominated by criticism of the district's controversial math curriculum.

The elementary-level Investigations in Number, Data and Space, and its middle-school counterpart, Connected Math, have been criticized by parents for not focusing enough on rote memorization of math facts.

Often referred to as "Investigations Math," the curriculum favors students solving math problems using algorithms they discover on their own or in groups.

Rob Smith, business administrator for Alpine School District, defended the math program but acknowledged that it was implemented poorly.

"Most people are satisfied with what is going on at their school," Smith said.

Last month, the district announced its intentions to allow a school-by-school choice of the math curriculum.

Charelle Bowman, a councilwoman and parent who strongly dislikes Investigations Math, said that's not an acceptable solution.

"The district created the problem, and now they're asking the parents to fix it," she said. "It's a cop-out by the district to say, 'Here are the two programs. You decide.' "

Bowman said the district should listen to the parents and return to a basic, core match curriculum and give teachers the option to supplement that with Investigations Math to reach students who respond better to that program.


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