FARMINGTON — Superintendent Reid Newey responded to community members’ concerns about the proposed boundaries for a new Layton elementary school at Davis school board’s workshop meeting Tuesday evening.
The new school will be located at 2504 W. Sunburst Drive in west Layton. Proposed boundaries for the school were first announced at the Davis school board’s meeting on Sept. 4.
The tentative boundaries of the new school include a large southern portion of Sand Springs Elementary’s current boundaries, as well as the northeastern tip of those boundaries.
They also cover strips along the western and southern sides of Ellison Park Elementary’s current boundaries and strips along the western and northern sides of Heritage Elementary’s current boundaries.
Newey said that safety and transportation has been an area where the district has received significant feedback. In particular, people are concerned about the lack of sidewalks in the area surrounding the new school.
“That’s an area we’re addressing with Layton City,” Newey said. “...We’ll continue to work with the city and make sure they have all the information necessary from us.”
Board member Cheryl Phipps inquired about how early cities are involved in the construction process so they can plan for sidewalks.
“In my experience, sidewalks are way down on the priority list,” Newey said. “(Cities) know well in advance when we build these schools and the property we have, but ... they have to have significant population to justify improvement. Sewer, water, electrical are all huge costs before anything proceeds. Sidewalk is a ‘nice to have’ not a ‘need to have’ in terms of what cities view as their process.”
The area in the proposed boundaries of the new elementary school is developing rapidly, but many areas remain undeveloped.
“Cities look to developers to put in sidewalks and curb and gutter as part of ... the cost of installing the subdivision,” said Craig Carter, business administrator and assistant superintendent of the district. “I have not seen a city go out on their own to install sidewalks in areas where there are no homes, at least in my experience.”
Carter said Snow Horse Elementary in Kaysville has been there for about 12 years, and it’s only now that some streets around the school are getting sidewalks.
However, Carter said the district’s traffic safety committee is addressing the issue of sidewalks at the county level, though they are early in those conversations.
Phipps expressed frustration that cities approve housing developments that are not yet connected to other areas without planning and building necessary sidewalks.
“We are doing the best we can,” Newey said. “We always do ... we have a very low rate, fortunately, of students being hit walking to school, but it does happen, and it’s always a tragedy, so we want to avoid it.”
Newey said the district had also heard concerns about changes in the socioeconomic balance of the populations of the three affected schools, as measured by the percentage of students at each school who receive free or reduced-price lunch. There have also been concerns about the dual language immersion programs at the three affected schools.
Newey said there will only be minor changes in the free and reduced-price lunch rates at the three existing schools.
According to Shauna Lund, community relations supervisor with the district, the percentage of students receiving free and reduce-price lunch at Ellison Park would move from 19.2% under the current boundaries to 19.7% under the proposed boundaries.
Heritage would move from 6.2% to 6.5%, and Sand Springs would move from 9.7% to 8.2%, Lund said. At the new school, 13.9% of students would likely receive free and reduced-price lunch.
Sand Springs and Heritage both have dual immersion language programs, in Spanish and Chinese, respectively. Students participating in those programs will not be moved away from those schools, Lund said.
Meetings to collect feedback on the boundary proposals from community councils at Sand Springs and Ellison Park occurred before Newey’s comments on Tuesday. Heritage’s community council discussed the boundary proposal at a meeting Wednesday.
The public still has a chance to participate in the boundary process.
According to a timeline on the district’s website, an open house will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26, at Shoreline Junior High in Layton, 1150 S. Westside Drive.
A public hearing will be held at the school board’s workshop at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15. The board’s final reading of the boundary proposal will occur at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at its scheduled board meeting.