Plans revealed for future of Treasure Mountain Junior High School | ParkRecord.com

Plans revealed for future of Treasure Mountain Junior High School

For the first time in public, the Park City School District’s master planning committee has unveiled a possible timeline for tearing down and replacing Treasure Mountain Junior High.

Citing a sense of urgency, the committee’s aggressive timeline calls for giving the Board of Education a recommendation on a path forward by February. The board would then be able to vote this summer whether or not to move ahead with the plans and issue a bond — which would be necessary to help fund the construction — with the public voting on the potential funding next November.

With that timeline, the rebuilt school could be completed by the fall of 2017.

While updating the board on the committee’s progress at a public meeting Dec. 9, Sean Morgan — who is one of two community members serving on the committee — acknowledged the timeline is fast-paced but could be tweaked if necessary.

"If we can get there, great," Morgan told the board. "If we get into it and we realize we have to push (the timeline back), then we can adapt. I think starting out with a tight timeline keeps us focused."

Maurice Hickey, who is president of the school board and serves on the master planning committee, said that through studies conducted to identify the largest areas of need among the district’s facilities, it became clear that replacing Treasure Mountain is the No. 1 priority. The school has serious problems, both aesthetic and functional, including poor air circulation, lighting and plumbing, as well as an inefficient layout.

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Rather than the district continuing to pump money into the school for those repairs, the committee found that the best option would be to build a new junior high.

"We’re constantly putting a band-aid on a wound," Hickey said. "You start adding up all those numbers, and now we’re starting to get into the millions of dollars of repairs. And you look at it to see whether you’re throwing good money after bad. Are you just repairing a building that was not great from the start?"

Superintendent Ember Conley said the fact the district has spent a chunk of its budget on those repairs was a main reason the committee chose to push forward with the aggressive timeline.

"There is a sense of urgency," she said. "We know we’re going to have to put money into it over the next few years, even this next year and following year. It’s, ‘Why are we continuing to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a building that needs to be rebuilt."

Hickey emphasized that planning for a rebuild of Treasure Mountain is still in the early stages and that nothing has been finalized. The district will work with an architectural firm in the coming weeks to ensure it is moving in the right direction.

"We have a unique opportunity to address a lot of needs if we do this correctly," Hickey said, adding that the district has a lot of options for placement of the new school along Kearns Boulevard.

One possibility that has been discussed is building the school next to the Eccles Center, where the baseball field currently sits. The baseball field could then be moved to Treasure Mountain’s current location.

"That way we’d have a campus right there with Treasure Mountain and the high school," Hickey said. "Instead of having kids going back and forth between classes at times, you’d have a nice situation. And that’s very doable. I’m not saying that’s the best option, but it’s one option."

Rebuilding Treasure Mountain could have ripple effects throughout the district, as well, Hickey said. For example, facilities for the Park City Learning Center could be included in the rebuild, allowing McPolin Elementary School to put specialized classes, such as art and music, where the Learning Center is currently housed. That would free up several classrooms at McPolin, alleviating some of the strain increased enrollment is placing on the district’s elementary schools.

Park City Superintendent Ember Conley said a bond would be necessary to help fund any rebuild of Treasure Mountain because the district’s capital budget wouldn’t be able to cover the entire cost. With that in mind, she said the district will make every effort to be transparent throughout the process. Residents can view the master planning committee’s progress through documents on the district’s website, pcschools.us, and monthly updates from the committee will be given to the board during public meetings.

The size of the bond is not yet known, as the actual cost of rebuilding Treasure Mountain has not been determined. The district has not begun the process of receiving bids on the project from architects.

"It was really clear that we needed to get some processes in place for the master planning committee and some transparency," Conley said. "Because even though we thought we were being transparent, some people didn’t feel that way."