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West Valley City Journal

Granite School District looks to deal with declining, shifting enrollment on west side

Oct 12, 2023 03:23PM ● By Darrell Kirby

Brockbank Jr. High School in Magna, which closed in 2016, could be reopened in 2025 as the Granite School District considers school closures and boundary changes to deal with shifting student populations in several schools in West Valley City, Kearns and Magna. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

The threat of multiple school closures in the western part of the Granite School District has eased but the district is still considering changes to deal with declining student populations. 

During a public meeting at Matheson Junior High School in September, district officials outlined the latest phase of a plan to deal with dropping and shifting enrollments. 

Back in April, the school district floated the possibility of closing some elementary schools, moving boundaries, and shifting grade levels to boost student numbers at some schools and reduce the enrollment at others, namely Matheson Junior High School, which serves western West Valley City and Magna. 

However, the only likely school closure talked about at last month’s meeting is Western Hills Elementary in Kearns. It currently houses only 275 students, well below the optimum number of 550. 

“School closures in this area have been taken off the table” for now among elementary schools that feed into Matheson Jr. High School, District spokesman Ben Horsley said at the sparsely attended meeting. 

Horsley said the focus now is primarily on school boundary adjustments to better balance school populations, adding grade six to junior high schools, and reopening Brockbank Junior High School, which closed in 2016, but is being used now as additional classroom space for nearby Cyprus High School. A new Cyprus campus is under construction which will eliminate its need for Brockbank when it opens in August 2025. 

Meanwhile, the ongoing addition of hundreds of new housing units west of 8400 West in Magna could further necessitate bringing Brockbank back to life as a junior high school to take pressure off Matheson, which is approaching 1,200 students. “You want about 900 kids in a junior high,” Horsley said. A projected 850 sixth through eighth graders would attend Brockbank if it is reopened. 

School closure and boundary change proposals on the west side are not new to the Granite School District in general. Five elementary schools have ceased operations in the past three years  because of too few students. Horsley says even those closures have not been enough to match facilities with a drop in enrollment from 78,000 in the 1990s to about 59,000 today. 

Horsley says an independent survey firm hired by the District will gauge sentiment among patrons on grade reconfiguration in the elementary and junior high schools where sixth grade would be moved to the junior high level. 

The Granite Board of Education is expected to hold two votes in November and December on the proposed changes—one on the boundary and grade level realignment and the other on closing Western Hills Elementary. 

Only current kindergarten through fourth graders would be affected by any changes approved by the board starting with the 2025-26 school year. Students now in higher grades would not be impacted. λ