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News Briefs for Aug. 17, 2012

Article Date: 
17 August, 2012 (All day)

Sale of old bus garage discussed
In the throws of budget turmoil, the Morgan County School District is motivated to sell its old bus garage property on State Street. Superintendent Ken Adams said there has been interest in outside parties purchasing the commercial property, including renewed interest from Morgan County.  The school board went into executive session Tuesday to discuss real estate negotiations with the county.  They planned to have something in writing for the Morgan County Council to consider during their Aug. 21 meeting.
Enrollment on the rise
The Morgan County School District ended the 2011-12 school year with 2,355 students, a growth of 48 students over the previous year, Superintendent Ken Adams said.  
Although registration for the 2012-13 school year is still not final, Morgan Elementary School is already showing an enrollment of 20 more students than last year.  The increase is due mostly to a larger incoming kindergarten group, which is 18 students more than the fifth grade class that moved on to Morgan Middle School.  Principal Tim Wolff is worried about class sizes in fourth and fifth grade.  In fourth grade, class sizes are over 30.  In fifth grade, they are hovering at 25. 
Mountain Green Elementary is set to welcome 53 more students this year, mostly attributable to about 25 more houses being built in the area, Principal Tom McFarland said.  Like Morgan Elementary, the largest growth is coming from the kindergarten group.  The largest class sizes are 32 in the fifth grade, 25 in the fourth grade, and 24 in kindergarten.
Morgan Middle School enrollment is about the same as last year, although class sizes for 29 sections are over 30 students.
Morgan High School enrollment is climbing this year.  Vice Principal Renn Hoopes said that with the addition of several foreign exchange students, Morgan High will see an increase in ethnicity.
Secondary water issue plagues district
While developers attempt to get new wells on line, Mountain Green Elementary School doesn’t have enough pressure in the secondary system to water the school’s lawns, said D’Lynn Poll, district business administrator.  The school has switched back to using the culinary system to water lawns.  A recent injunction shows there is some progress being made in developing the rest of the water system in the area, Poll said.  She said promises have been made to the district that they would not be charged for using culinary water instead of secondary.  The district would like to see their 10 acre feet of Weber Basin Water shares meant for secondary water legally transferred to a point of diversion in the Cottonwood water system.
“These wells are not going to be sufficient,” Poll said.  “We are waiting on (the developer) to come up with the next solution.”
State legislators warn district
At a recent regional meeting with state legislators and state school board members, locals didn’t get a rosy picture of the financial future.
“Our legislators were open and hones in saying they don’t see it getting in better,” Morgan Middle School Principal Terry Allen said.  “In fact, they see it getting worse.”
Of all the comments, those most concerning to Morgan school representatives were those of Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan.  Allen said Hillyard advised school districts to implement educational services through electronic and mechanical means.  Allen said that was a concern because he would rather give every student individualized attention.
“We have a grim future ahead of us as far as state funding goes,” said Jody Hipwell, Morgan School Board member.
In recent years, the state has pushed local school boards to increasingly fund social security and retirement for their employees, as well as transportation of students. By Utah Constitution, all income tax should be used for public education, said D’Lynn Poll, Morgan School District business administrator. In the last 15 years, the state legislature has interpreted that to mean higher education in addition to K through 12 schools.