South Summit School District continues preparing for Silver Creek development
The South Summit School District is taking the next step in preparations for the Silver Creek Village Center development, which could eventually bring as many as 750 students into the district.
Kip Bigelow, the district’s business administrator, said the district will begin a master planning process this fall that will, in part, examine what effect the development could have. However, the process is tricky because it is still unclear how many students the development, which is southeast of the Interstate 80-U.S. 40 interchange and is slated to include 1,290 residential units, will bring into the district.
Currently, the district is basing its projections on the developer’s plans and a previous capital improvement plan that outlines how many students it can expect from an average household, Bigelow said. But basing plans on projections leaves a margin of error, so the district is forced to remain somewhat in a holding pattern until more concrete data is available.
"As of right now, everything is still very preliminary," Bigelow said. "We’re continuing to monitor it and stay ahead of it, so as families start to build there and students start to live there, we have done what we need to do."
But the fact South Summit High School is beginning to reach its capacity due to broad growth in the district — and that the elementary school and middle school aren’t far behind — muddies the water. The challenge for the district is to balance current capital needs with those that will have to be met once the Silver Creek Village Center is built.
To that end, the district will be "throwing all options on the table" during its master planning process, Bigelow said. The district will explore adding a wing to the high school, while it will also evaluate the elementary and middle schools. South Summit administrators know more students are coming fast, both from the Silver Creek Village Center and elsewhere through the district’s boundaries.
"Not only is there growth in the Silver Creek Village area, there’s growth going on within the traditional boundaries of the district," Bigelow said. "We’re looking not just at how Silver Creek is going to impact the district, but the total impact of all the growth that’s going on."
Bigelow said South Summit has an architect looking at various aspects of its capital plan, and he estimated a master planning committee will be formed by the end of the year.
"That is a process that will be ongoing for the next several months," he said. "But it’s still very preliminary."
There is another factor the district must take into account, as well. Bigelow said five acres near the development will be allotted for an elementary school to eventually be built in that area when need warrants it.
So the district must ensure its current buildings — and any expansions made to them — can handle an influx of students when families begin moving into the Silver Creek Village Center, while also planning for the possibility of a future in which many students who live there attend a new school altogether.
All of that, at this point, is still based on projections of how many students will enroll.
"We hope our educated guesses are accurate," Bigelow said. "It’s difficult because we don’t have good, solid numbers."
Further complicating the situation is the fact Silver Creek Village is actually much closer to schools within the Park City School District, which will likely lead residents in the development to wish to have their students attend Park City schools. Bigelow said the South Summit and Park City school districts — as well as North Summit School District — are set to meet in the coming weeks to discuss a broad range of topics, including the potential effects of the Silver Creek Village Center.
Many in the community have wondered whether South Summit’s boundaries could be changed so the Silver Creek development is in the Park City School District. But Bigelow said that option has not been formally discussed.
"Right now, South Summit School District is moving forward as though that development will be within South Summit boundaries," he said.
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The South Summit Board of Education voted 4-1 to put a bond measure on November’s ballot asking for $87 million to build a new high school.