Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 22, 2023
School board considers boundaries for West Elementary

Four years after eliminating all neighborhood boundaries for West Elementary School, the Tooele County School Board is considering restoring boundaries for the school.

The Tooele County School Board held the first of two required public hearings on boundary changes for West Elementary School during their meeting on Tuesday evening, March 14, at the boardroom at the Tooele County School District office. 

West Elementary currently has no boundaries. In 2019, the school board stripped West Elementary of any boundaries for attendance sending its students to neighboring schools, leaving West Elementary as the district’s only all dual language immersion school with the district’s only German DLI program.

At that time, 87 out of 440 students that attended West Elementary were not enrolled in the German DLI program. First and second grade classes at West Elementary were combined due to low enrollment. There was only one non-DLI class for each grade from third through sixth grade limiting opportunities for teacher collaboration. There was also a concern that West Elementary did not have enough classrooms to accommodate more non-DLI classes at each grade level as the DLI program grew into upper grades.

Brent Larsen, a West Elementary parent, spoke against the boundary change in 2019. Tuesday night he was the only speaker during the public hearing on the new boundaries for West Elementary.

“Four years ago we begged you to not make West a DLI only school,” Larsen said. “Now some want it back. There is a perception that DLI students with their smaller class sizes are more valued. We were told that West couldn’t hold both programs. What changed? I just ask that whatever you decide, that you stick to it.”

Right now, West Elementary has an enrollment of 193 students, and with an ideal capacity of 535 the school is 36% full. Neighboring schools — Northlake is at 73% capacity, Settlement Canyon is at 92% capacity and Sterling is at 90% capacity.

Reinstituting boundaries for West Elementary is expected to increase the number of students to 457, bringing the school to 85% of capacity. The new boundaries would leave Northlake at 62% of capacity, Settlement Canyon at 70% capacity and Sterling at 87% capacity.

The redistribution of students would give the elementary schools room for growth as well as the ability to better accommodate full-day kindergarten as funded by the state Legislature in 2023.

Board member Emily Syphus asked about adding more classrooms to Settlement Canyon as has been done at other elementary schools with the same design. The answer was that the property at Settlement Canyon only has room to add two classrooms to one wing.

Some board members were interested in seeing the numbers for students from Stockton currently being bused to Settlement Canyon Elementary. Perhaps those students could be bussed to West Elementary.

If West Elementary is to be continued to be used, the building will need some work, said Bryan Becherini, Tooele Area schools director.

The building has a facility condition score of 42.2 points out of 100, the district average is 76, he said.

There have been times that water leaks from the ceiling and on occasions this winter, students, facility and staff have had to wear coats, hats and gloves in classrooms because the heat wasn’t working, Becherini added.

Upgrading the school would require bringing the entire school up to American with Disabilities Standards, which is estimated to cost around 50 to 75% of the cost of building a new school, he said.

The school board will hold another public hearing before voting on the boundary change. State code requires the school district to inform parents of boundary changes in April.


Tim Gillie

Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim has been writing for the Transcript Bulletin since October 2017. In February 2019 he was named as editor. In addition to being editor, Tim continues to write about Tooele County government, education, business, real estate, housing, politics and the state Legislature.A native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University, Tim became a journalist after a 20 year career with the Boy Scouts of America.

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