OREM, Utah (ABC4) — Proposition 2 is being called one of Orem’s most contentious elections in the city’s history.
Prop 2 will determine if the city of Orem will break off from the Alpine School District and form its own district. While this has been something leaders in Orem have discussed in the past, Orem Mayor David Young said the catalyst centers on the district’s proposed $595 million bond. According to the Utah Taxpayers Association, this is the largest proposed school district bond in Utah.
Young said they had to bring this to voters because if the bond passes, it would be too late for Orem to leave because of how much money it would cost taxpayers. Those in favor of leaving, including a majority of the Orem city council and the Utah Taxpayers Association, said Orem has historically paid more money than their students have received.
Those against Prop 2, including several parent-teacher associations as well as many educators, argue that leaving the district could cost taxpayers even more money because it would have fewer students and a smaller tax base, something that has been fiercely debated.
Another big sticking point for both sides centers around the quality of education. Prop 2 supporters said test scores in Orem are poor, and they need more local control. Others worry Orem will lose its best teachers who want to stay within the Alpine School District and question if the same services will be available for students who need extra help.
While both sides disagree on what this could look like, how it will impact students and how much it will cost, they agree that there is a lot of passion and things are getting heated.
“We probably naively thought we wanted to just ask that simple question, and you would have thought the world ended when we asked that question,” Young said.
“I got a piece of hate mail in the mail today because I put my name and image on a flier,” said Val Hale, the Former Executive Director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “I got an anonymous hate letter in the mail. That kind of stuff is going on, which I haven’t seen in Orem before.”