This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Booming Eagle Mountain could soon see relief in its three overcrowded elementary schools.
The median age is just 13 in this fledgling Utah County city west of Lehi, so additional growth brings with it a demand for more schools. But in a politically tumultuous city, where even the population is up for interpretation (city officials say 20,000 and the U.S. census says 12,000), adding schools is easier said than done.
Alpine School District has been trying to purchase 10 acres for a new elementary in the Hidden Valley subdivision, but a court battle with the property's landowners delayed the process.
Now, a district administrator said the sides are on the verge of inking a compromise, so the district could break ground on Eagle Mountain's fourth elementary school within the next couple days.
"We have a lot of children, and we are very badly in need [of new schools]," Mayor Don Richardson said Friday, adding that two new high schools are on the horizon - one in nearby Saratoga Springs and a charter school near the intersection of Ranches Parkway and State Route 73 in Eagle Mountain.
Two of the city's elementary schools are part of the Alpine School District; the third is a charter school.
Rob Smith, Alpine School District administrator, said Eagle Mountain's elementaries were built to accommodate just 865 students each.
But, according to counts taken just days ago, Eagle Valley and Pony Express are far beyond capacity with 937 and 1,297 students, respectively.
And enrollment figures are growing weekly.
"We've had to bring in trailers to accommodate the growth," said district board member Donna Barnes, adding that some science, physical education, art and computer classes have 30 to 35 students.
"We'd like to have every single class much lower than 30, but that just is really not possible with the amount of growth," Barnes said. "We just simply do not have enough classrooms, and I do not foresee a time we will not have 'relocatables' at our high-growth schools."
Smith said scheduling modifications have increased the schools' capacities by 20 to 25 percent, but he agrees that it's time for a new school, which would force some boundary adjustments.
And Jennifer Webb, a Pony Express PTA board member with four children at that school, said she is encouraged with the progress toward building the new school because "it's desperately needed."
"We're one of the largest cities, geographically, in the state, so the growth has just been exponential," Webb said, referring to the Eagle Mountain's landmass relative to its population.
The new school should help alleviate issues like bullying at overcrowded playgrounds, cafeterias and assemblies, she said.
"It profoundly impacts the culture of the school to have that large of a load."