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The Murray City School District Board of Education voted Thursday to make a small boundary adjustment, seek a bond measure for projects at Riverview Jr. High and Murray High School, and to continue preparations for grade reconfiguration. 

In response to recent declines in student enrollment (11.4% over the last five years), the Murray City School District Board of Education took another step forward from its initial announcement on January 11, voting unanimously to:

  1. Make a small boundary change beginning with the 2024-25 school year, moving approximately 68 students from Parkside Elementary to Liberty Elementary;
  2. Seek bond measure approval to fund two construction projects: An addition to Murray High School and a rebuild of Riverview Jr. High School. This would be the first bond measure the Board of Education has requested in more than 12 years, the last being a rebuild of Hillcrest Jr. High that passed in June 2012; 
  3. Proceed with plans to adopt a middle school model, moving all 9th-grade students to Murray High School and all 6th-grade students to its two middle schools (Riverview and Hillcrest)

Approximately 68 students enrolled at Parkside would be re-boundaried to attend Liberty Elementary for the 2024-25 school year. All impacted students (and their families) are presently living near the northern district boundary, north of Fireclay Avenue and west of State Street.

The second feature of the Board’s decision set into motion plans to seek a bond measure in November. The passage of this measure would replace Riverview Jr. High and include adding a wing to Murray High School. 

The third vote made by the Board includes a grade reconfiguration of moving 9th-grade students to Murray High School and 6th-grade students to a middle school model.  

A timeline for the construction projects and subsequent grade reconfiguration is dependent on the bond outcome in November. If it passes, the District would expect to break ground in January, but other dates for completion and grade movement would depend on construction schedules. If the bond does not pass, the district will proceed with the grade reconfiguration using existing facilities.  More information about costs, timelines, contingencies, middle-school models, and more will be presented to the public in the months ahead.  

As the board made its initial recommendations public on January 12, they proceeded to hold multiple information sessions for impacted families and educators to ask questions of board members. They also took public comment at three monthly board meetings.

“We appreciate the hundreds of conversations, suggestions, and pieces of feedback we have received over the last few months,” said Jaren Cooper, Murray Board of Education Chair. “This dialogue was critical to helping us understand public sentiment, but also central to our commitment to making decisions that are responsive and helpful to our Murray community.”

Cooper also stressed that these decisions are part of a larger vision to right-size Murray for its current and expected enrollment in the coming years. As construction costs continue to rise at a rate of 10-15% per year, Board members expressed the hope that citizens will understand the importance of this November’s decision. 

“Bond measures are not an easy decision,” said Cooper. “But I am confident in our homework. We have studied this issue for many years and believe acting now will save taxpayers millions, continue our promise of a quality public education, and maintain the ‘We Are Murray’ spirit of responsible independence this community has cherished since 1906.”

He continued that beyond these projects, the board will be revisiting boundaries and other possible facility changes once the dust settles on the current proposal. 

“We feel that the best decision for Murray and the right decision for our students and families is proceeding this year, so we can minimize costs and maximize education opportunities,” said Superintendent Jennifer Covington

She added: “Student accessibility to a safe, healthy, and productive learning environment is a top consideration. But we are also committed to appropriate stewardship of our public funds; Taxpayers depend on us to make decisions that reflect efficiency and a vigilance to protect the invaluable resources we are entrusted with.”

Murray is not alone in responding to enrollment changes in Utah and across the country. Declining birth rates, rising home and apartment costs, and other economic stresses are impacting enrollments. The Board considered many different ideas for addressing these factors, balancing them with our current elementary building’s functional capacity, population projections, new housing plans, building costs, class size impacts, specialty learning programs, and school/community cultures.

Community members and educators are encouraged to watch for a flow of additional announcements and information through public meetings and external communications in the weeks and months leading up to the bond measure decision in November.  Information will also be shared on our district website.