EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Orem, Alpine School District split debate centers on whose math you believe

Oct 4, 2022, 5:26 PM

Orem High School from Alpine School District is pictured. alpine school district split debate...

Orem High School in Orem is pictured on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

OREM, Utah — A growing debate over whether to split the city of Orem from the Alpine School District centers on a disagreement over math. 

The Utah Taxpayers Association supports breaking up the district and the creation of a new Orem School District, in part because it finds problems with the data used by the Stronger Together Coalition, which opposes the split. 

Different numbers at odds in Alpine split debate

Val Hale, a member of the Stronger Together Coalition and a former executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development under Gov. Gary Herbert, told KSL NewsRadio that the taxpayers’ association has never shown data that refutes their main concern. That concern: that a split of the Alpine School District would require the city of Orem to raise taxes by at least 50%. 

“We based our data on Alpine School District’s audited and publicly available reports,” Hale said. “The taxpayers’ association seems to have relied upon unverified claims from the pro-split group.” 

Hale and other members of Stronger Together say their data shows the Alpine District currently puts more into the schools that exist in Orem than Orem does; in their view, Orem would then have to make up that difference after a split. 

But the Utah Taxpayers’ Association criticized Stronger Together as using mistaken calculations as the basis for their calculations. After conducting its own analysis, the organization said it concluded that the citizens’ group used outdated information and failed to include all of the district’s funding sources. The taxpayers’ association released its findings in a statement posted to their website on Monday. 

“And we came to the conclusion that some of the claims that this Stronger Together group is making are incorrect. We thought we should correct the record, and we did so in the statement that we put out yesterday in urging Orem taxpayers to vote yes on this Proposition 2,” said Rusty Cannon, president of the Utah Taxpayers’ Association, in an interview with Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News on KSL NewsRadio. 

Stronger Together outlines its arguments on its own website. Hale acknowledges voters will need to decide whose math makes more sense to them. 

“It all boils down to that argument: Whose numbers are right? We think ours are right,” Hale said. “They think theirs are right.” 

Our previous reporting:

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Orem, Alpine School District split debate centers on whose math you believe