Board Meeting Report - September 5, 2023
The Board of Education of Salt Lake City School District (the Board) held its latest public meeting on Tuesday, September 5, 2023. The meeting was live streamed on the district’s YouTube channel and can be viewed there.
The focus of this week’s meeting was the district’s Population and Boundary Study. The Boundaries and Planning Director, Brian Conley, reported on the entire study process and provided details on the district’s approach to further studying schools for closure or boundary realignment. The director’s PowerPoint presentation is posted on the district website in English and provides a good amount of detail. (We are waiting on a Spanish translation and will post that to our website as soon as possible. Community members can request translation into other languages by calling 801-578-8378.)
Mr. Conley began with a review of population and enrollment trends in Salt Lake City. A decline in enrollment like what we are seeing now was also seen during the 1960s and 1970s. In the fall of 1964, the district had 39,940 students. That number dropped below 24,000 by the fall of 1979. During this 15-year period, the Board of Education closed 32 schools. Student enrollment from 1979 onward was steady until about 15 years ago, when enrollment started dropping again. In the last nine years, our elementary school enrollment has dropped by almost 30%, yet the district hasn’t closed schools in more than 20 years. Currently, only about 19% of our city’s population is aged 18 or younger.
Next came a review of the work done so far for the Population and Boundary Study. The process began in July 2022 as district leaders took a comprehensive look at data for elementary schools across the district. In February, the Board approved a recommendation to study all 27 district elementary schools for potential closure or possible boundary changes. Between February and July, the district held over 50 meetings with more than 700 people to gather information and feedback. In August, the Board approved a recommendation to further study seven elementary schools for potential closure and to study the remaining 20 elementary schools for possible boundary changes. (If any of our elementary schools closes, we will need to adjust boundaries for neighboring schools to adequately distribute student populations across the city.)
Then, Mr. Conley reviewed in detail the work of the Boundary Options Committee. While we have shared information related to the committee’s work in earlier Board meetings, we wanted to convey more clearly the work done thus far and the factors that impacted which seven schools were recommended for further study for closure. You can view the PowerPoint presentation on our website in English.
In September and October, community members will have numerous opportunities to ask questions and provide feedback. Five information meetings have been scheduled to provide information and answer questions from stakeholders. Meetings 1, 2, 3, and 5 will be conducted in English with Spanish translation available. (Translation into other languages can be requested by calling 801-578-8378.) Meeting 4 will be run in Spanish, but English translation will be available. Childcare will be provided at ALL meetings.
- Meeting #1: Tuesday, September 12, 6-8 p.m.
at SLCSE-Bryant Middle School
- Meeting #2: Saturday, October 7, 9-11 a.m.
at Glendale Middle School
- Meeting #3: Wednesday, October 18, 7-9 p.m.
at Northwest Middle School
- Meeting #4: Saturday, October 21, 9-11 a.m.
at Franklin Elementary
(This meeting will be conducted in SPANISH.)
- Meeting #5: Wednesday, October 25, 7-9 p.m.
at Hillside Middle School
In addition, Mr. Conley will be scheduling meetings at each of the seven schools on the study list. Public comment periods will be available during the Board meetings in November, and a public hearing will be held in December. Details of these meetings will be published once they are finalized. Of course, comments are always welcome on the district’s online feedback form. It’s important to us to make sure we are sharing information broadly and that community members have a chance to participate in the process in the ways that make sense for them – whether that means sharing feedback via the online form, attending a meeting they can easily get to at their student’s school, or speaking out in a public meeting.
Mr. Conley prepared a memo for Board members that details the district’s approach to further study. This memo has also been posted to our website in English (Spanish translation coming soon) and details the considerations that will be used to guide recommendations regarding school closures and school boundary changes.
Moving forward, the director will work with district leaders with different areas of expertise to gather data and evaluate comments and feedback provided by the community. He shared the specific types of information he will be looking for as he and district leadership work towards making a recommendation to the Board by the end of the year. Another key component of the work that will take place over the next few months is transition planning. While nothing final will be known until December 2023 or January 2024, the district is already working on the components that will be necessary in transition planning. For example, considering possible changes to district busing needs; thinking through how to merge school communities and how to make the process as smooth as possible for students, families, and staff.