Ogden School District uses survey, town halls to help decide school closures

SERGIO MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN/Standard-Examiner

Rich Nye, Ogden School District superintendent, listens to a teacher as she expresses concerns on closing Wasatch Elementary. The school is one of five elementaries the school district is considering to close this year.

Thursday , March 08, 2018 - 5:00 AM

OGDEN — The Ogden School District is using a survey to compile feedback from the community as an additional strategy to help it reach a difficult decision: closing schools.

The communities of Taylor Canyon, Wasatch, Gramercy, Hillcrest and Polk elementary schools — all subject to potential closure — are invited to fill out a survey and answer a series of questions about the timing of the school consolidations, plans of action and transition support.

The survey is available in Spanish and English.

Jer Bates, Ogden School District spokesman, said he expects the survey results to show a pattern of what people would like to see happen with their schools.

He said the district also expects people to come forward with new, better scenarios.

“I don’t believe there is a dream scenario,” Bates said. “But if we see something and it just seems like more of the pieces fall into place than what we’ve discussed so far, why not pick it up and run with it?”

The survey can be found on the elementary schools’ websites and anyone can participate.

“There are some ways I could have really restricted it to people who would only have certain types of access,” Bates said. “My intent, though, is to try to keep the feedback neighborhood-specific.”

Although the district has presented possible scenarios of schools closing, Bates said the survey will allow additional considerations before the board makes a decision.

In addition, the district scheduled five town halls this week to discuss school closures face-to-face with the community.

          > Ogden School District schedules 5 town halls this week about school closures

He said the survey will be beneficial for parents and other members who are not able to participate in the town halls. 

Bates is the only one analyzing the results and presenting them to the school board next week. He said he expects the board to at least discuss the results at its March 15 meeting.

The school district has been discussing different measures to address declining enrollment and deteriorating buildings.

The conversations about closing schools have increased since voters rejected a $106.5 million bond that could have potentially solved some of the issues the district faces. 

          > Ogden schools now considering 11 scenarios for closing, rebuilding elementaries

When asked why the school board has not set a hard deadline for a vote, Bates said the district has been accused of making promises in the past and not following through.

“Our current administration is being very deliberate and very careful with everything we say,” Bates said. “We’d rather underpromise and overdeliver.”

He also said some school board members have shown reluctance to closing schools this year.

“The most honest and most fair answer I can give is that the board won’t make a decision until they really feel like they are making the right decision,” Bates said.

Jeff Heiner, the board president, has said in the past that the decision to close schools in May feels “a little bit rushed.”

Contact Education Reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán at smartinezbeltran@standard.net or 801-625-4274. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/STANDARDEXSergio.

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