Proposed school boundary changes in Washington County create worry among some parents

ST. GEORGE — Due to continued growth in Washington County, the Washington County School District Board of Education is proposing two boundary changes that would primarily affect students at both Crimson Cliffs High and Coral Canyon Elementary schools. If approved, these boundary changes would be implemented at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.

This map illustrates the proposed boundary change between Coral Canyon Elementary and Washington Elementary schools, location and date unspecified | Image courtesy of the Washington County School District, St. George News

During a public hearing Tuesday afternoon, four mothers of children who attend Coral Canyon Elementary spoke against the boundary change proposed between Washington and Coral Canyon elementary schools.

This change would take in all of the new development along the Southern Parkway, including Ence/Salisbury Homes south of White Dome and the Desert Canyon Development. It would also affect residents of Pine Valley Townhomes in Washington. If implemented, this would cause a transfer of 80 students from Coral Canyon Elementary to Washington Elementary.

Nacolynn Tanielu, a mother whose child attends Coral Canyon Elementary, spoke in opposition to the change. Her main concern had to do with diversity.

“Coral Canyon isn’t that diverse. I’ve been to Washington; it’s very diverse,” she said. “In the townhomes that we live in, there’s quite a bit of diversity in our townhomes. And I feel like it would be … sad for Coral Canyon to lose a lot of that diversity and put it into an establishment that’s already diverse.”

Photo illustration of two young students, one girl and one boy, wearing facemasks while boarding a school bus. | Photo by
David Carpio, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Amy Barton, who teaches first grade at Coral Canyon, said they will be devastated to “lose these parents. I taught all their children.”

Brittany Isom, who also spoke against the boundary change, has an eight-year-old son who she hopes can finish out his last two years at Coral Canyon. Having grown up in Leeds, she said she knows “what it’s like to be a number” and worries about her son.

“But I think with everything that’s gone on this year, to propose to change schools next year, for at least mine, it would be very detrimental to him. He struggles going to school right now,” she said.

Holmes said they looked at several different options for boundary changes but a large issue with other options had to do with busing, as well as working proactively to meet the needs of future growth projected around Coral Canyon.

Superintendent Larry Bergeson said while he understood the concern of the parents who expressed opposition, the good sign was that there are just four parents out of 80 who seem to be against this change.

“Ninety-five percent of the parents are either OK or not concerned enough to come,” he said. “So I think it’s important to point out – largely – they are supportive of the move.”

L-R: Board members Terry Hutchinson and LaRene Cox listen to parents during the public hearing for proposed boundary changes, St. George, Utah, Nov. 10, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

The other proposed boundary change is between Crimson Cliffs and Desert Hills high schools. Richard Holmes, assistant superintendent for secondary education, said without this boundary change to balance out the school, projected growth shows that in a couple years Crimson High School could be well over 1,500 students.

“Which puts it quite a bit bigger than our other schools,” he said.

Board member Terry Hutchinson said these boundary changes are a proactive step toward maintaining balanced schools as the county continues to grow. After attending a parent’s meeting, he said he thought parents overall were generally supportive.

“When we originally set the boundaries for Crimson Cliffs, there really wasn’t much development down there, and as Richard indicated it has just exploded,” he said. “So this is something I support. I think it’s something we ought to do.”

No one from the public was in attendance to speak on this boundary change. The board will not vote on these boundary changes until the next board meeting.

In other news, the board announced they were given $750,000 in COVID-19 relief funding from the county. Bergeson expressed immense gratitude toward the county and said they will use this money to ensure equity among students for things like testing for the coronavirus.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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