Completion of new Elementary school in Midvale could prompt boundary changesMar 22, 2021 04:32PM ● By Julie Slama
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
The development of Jordan Bluffs in Midvale is expected to shake things up a bit when it comes to drawing school boundaries.
Jordan Bluffs, bound by 7800 South on the north, Holden Street and Main Street on the east, the Midvale City boundary on the south and the Jordan River on the west, roughly has 40 students attending Canyons School District schools now, but is expected to house 150 to 175 school children by 2025, said Canyons’ Business Administrator Leon Wilcox.
Plus, nearby Bingham Junction is another redevelopment that will revitalize the older neighborhood and provide housing for families, bringing more children into schools, he said.
“This is so hard because we want to get as much community input as we can and it’s just so hard in this environment to have meetings in person,” he said about wanting patrons’ comments about the four Midvale elementary schools’ boundaries. “It certainly impacts some students. We’re trying to do as minimal as we can, but still need to accommodate growth with student enrollment with the current buildings’ capacities and with the necessary programming that we need to support all the students there so trying to balance that out is always the challenge.”
Boundary changes may go into effect in fall 2022 at the earliest, Wilcox said, but depending on COVID-19 impact, it may be pushed back to fall 2023.
Canyons is looking at several options that they will make public, including increasing enrollment at Midvalley, which can house about 800 students, to “take a little bit of pressure off, if we can, Copperview and a little bit of Midvale.”
Currently, elementary students living in Jordan Bluffs are in the boundary of Midvale Elementary so Wilcox said that they’re looking to balance that school’s enrollment.
“We’re just trying to find the best solution for everyone,” he said.
Both Midvale and Midvalley elementaries are about 80% capacity in a non-COVID-19 year, Wilcox said.
“We want to try to get more students into Midvalley and maybe keep Midvale the same, but we know that more growth is going to come into that area with the Bluffs, too,” he said.
Copperview Elementary, which Wilcox said can serve a little more than 500 students, and East Midvale, which can serve closer to 600 students, are both “pretty full,” Wilcox said, so district officials also are looking into those schools’ boundaries to adjust student populations.
“These are Title I (schools) so one thing that comes into immediate impact is we want to make sure we can support the kids that are there and that weighs heavily in the calculation,” he said, adding that Midvale Elementary also is a Title I school. “Title I (schools), you have to have smaller class sizes, more supports and so you need more spaces and so even though you may have a 500 (student) building capacity, you don’t want to necessarily put 500 kids there because it may not be the best way to support them.”
Midvalley recently introduced a Spanish dual immersion program and that could also influence the number of students enrolled in its school.
Wilcox said currently they aren’t addressing busing right now, as they would like to keep students in their own neighborhoods, but he also said it wouldn’t be ruled out.
“I would say, nothing’s been off the table,” he said. “You’d like boundaries to go along State Street, it is a natural boundary like I-15 is, but you can’t always do that. So, you try your best to see what we can do, but the main thing is always going to be to focus on how we can best support students. We put together a couple options and we’ve got a couple more that we’re looking at.”
Those potential options Wilcox shared at the Board of Education last fall. One option is that all of Jordan Bluff students will attend Midvale Elementary, then shifting some current Midvale students to Copperview, and some Copperview students to Midvalley, and some East Midvale students to Midvale Elementary to balance enrollments. The second would split Jordan Bluffs between Midvale and Copperview elementaries, with additional shifting of students as in option one.
“We’ve gotten some positive feedback and we’ve gotten some negative feedback, but we’re wanting to hear from more people in the Midvale community,” he said.
Wilcox said that typically by holding open houses and focus groups, more options may emerge from those discussions, but without those in-person events, it’s harder to hear from people in the community. He has reached out to those elementaries’ PTAs and school community councils and schools’ staff and faculty. There are discussions of holding virtual open houses or possibly sending out mailers to the community.
Under state law, once an option or multiple options are made public, 120 days needs to pass before Canyons Board of Education approves it. Canyons currently has not started that process, he said.
“In this environment, it is so hard to get any community feedback,” Wilcox said. “We’re trying to bring in as many people as we can to make sure we get it right.”