OREM, Utah (ABC 4 News) – On Monday, dozens of people converged on an Orem elementary school to voice their opinions about its proposed closure.
Geneva Elementary and Hillcrest Elementary could be closed as part of school consolidation in Alpine School District. Some students and parents aren’t happy.
“I read the news and I just felt so sad,” said Gwen Bateman, a former student at Geneva Elementary.
“This is like a second home — a second family,” she added.
Geneva Elementary is the oldest of the 57 elementary schools in the Alpine School District. It also has less than half the average enrollment of a typical school in the district. Officials say the school has 359 students; the district-wide average is 750 students.
“The challenge that we’re facing here in Orem is a 30-year trend of declining numbers of students attending our elementary schools, along with aging facilities,” said Assistant Superintendent John Patten.
Patten says the Board of Education has been analyzing the issue for roughly a year and a half. He says it might make sense to consolidate Geneva and Hillcrest into other, nearby schools — instead of spending roughly $16 million to renovate an aging school that serves only a few hundred students.
“Maybe we can best serve neighborhoods, and create strong academic programs that are sustainable, by closing a couple of schools,” said Patten.
As ABC4 Utah interviewed Patten, a parent approached.
“Please listen,” she said.
“This is important to our kids,” she added.
Patten said: “Yep, absolutely true.”
The woman continued:
“These kids, this is the only security that these kids have — you’re ripping it away!” she said.
And Patten responded:
“That point of view is really important. I hope you’ll believe it’s not a done deal until the board votes,” said Patten.
Even if the schools are closed, Patten says, nobody will lose their jobs as a result.
High, the topic will be discussed again.