School board to take public comments on 2 proposals to merge Dixie Sun, Coral Cliffs elementary schools

Washington County School District office, St. George, Utah, Sept. 11, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Competing visions about saving taxpayers money by merging two St. George elementary schools will be the subject of a public meeting Tuesday.

The Washington County Board of Education will take public comment on separate proposals to merge Dixie Sun Elementary and Coral Cliffs Elementary at 4:30 p.m. in the school district’s offices in St. George. After the public hearing, the school board will decide whether to accept either proposal or take no action at all.

After the original proposal to transfer all of Dixie Sun’s students to Coral Cliffs didn’t sit well with parents, school officials proposed an alternative in early January. Under the alternative proposal, the approximately 400 students who attend Dixie Sun would stay at the school and Coral Cliffs would instead be repurposed.

Proposal one

The first proposal entails repurposing Dixie Sun, located at 1795 W. 1230 North, to house several district programs, including a professional development center. The students would then attend Coral Cliffs, located a mile away at 2040 W. 2000 North.

In a previous interview with St. George News, Steve Dunham, school district communication and public relations director, said this proposal would save taxpayers $500,000 in operating costs.

Concerns about this proposal mainly came from parents of Dixie Sun students. Dunham said parents felt like they didn’t have the opportunity to be heard and that the decision was already made. Parents were also worried about changes to the dual immersion program at Dixie Sun, which under the proposal would only be available in first through fifth grade instead of beginning in kindergarten.

Read more: School board to discuss possibility of merging two St. George elementary schools

Proposal two

Due to the concerns of parents, Dunham said the second proposal was brought to the table and first discussed with the board Jan. 8. Under this proposal, students at Dixie Sun would remain, and Coral Cliffs Elementary, which has 445 students, would be repurposed.

Half of Coral Cliffs would be repurposed to house professional development offices and some media services, while the other half would serve as a professional development school, similar to the Edith Bowen Laboratory School in Logan. The professional development school would accommodate 140-150 elementary school students, requiring the remaining 300 Coral Cliffs students to attend Dixie Sun instead.

This proposal also entails a district boundary change that would affect Arrowhead Elementary, Diamond Valley Elementary, Red Mountain Elementary, Santa Clara Elementary and Sunset Elementary schools.

Dunham said this proposal would save taxpayers approximately $350,000.

Read more: Concerns from parents prompt district to propose alternative to merging 2 elementary schools

School board meeting details

  • What: Public hearing on proposals to merge Dixie Sun Elementary and Coral Cliffs Elementary.
  • When: Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Washington County School District Offices, 121 W. Tabernacle Street, St. George.

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