South Summit School District moves forward with master planning
The South Summit School District has taken the next step in a master-planning process to prepare for current growth and a potential influx of hundreds of students in the coming years.
The South Summit Board of Education held a special session Wednesday, Jan. 20, to interview three firms vying to become the district’s master planner. The competing firms are: Naylor Wentworth Lund Architects, Sandstrom Architecture and VCBO Architecture. The Board did not make a final decision on a firm, but Kip Bigelow, the district’s business administrator, said a choice will likely be made at the Feb. 11 meeting.
"They just did the interviews and said they wanted some time to digest what they had heard," he said.
South Summit has begun a master-planning process because its three schools are nearing capacity and a large-scale development in the district’s boundaries called Silver Creek Village is set to come online in the coming years. The development, located southeast of the Interstate 80/U.S. 40 interchange, could eventually bring up to 750 students into the district.
Bigelow said the master planner will begin work as soon as one is selected.
"Their initial task is to go through our existing buildings and make any recommendations for updates that may be needed," he said. "We want to know what is the current conditions of those buildings, so that we can get a vision of how far into the future they’re going to be usable for us."
Next, the master planner will work with a demographer to analyze potential growth to give the district an idea of what its student population will look like over the next 20 years. That information will be used to determine whether the district needs to build additions onto its current schools, or potentially build a new school, to accommodate the expected growth.
Bigelow told The Park Record previously that he expected an addition to the high school, which is already at capacity, to be necessary at the very least. Bigelow said Monday that the initial master planning work will hopefully be completed by the early summer, but work on any projects may be unlikely to begin this year.
If the master planner recommends facilities upgrades, the district would then have several steps to complete, such as coming up with a plan to finance the projects, before ground could be broken. Additionally, Bigelow said, the district is intentionally taking extra care to dot all the "i’s" and cross the "t’s" along the way.
"We need to see what the recommendations are and what the financial impact is going to be," he said. "Are there some things we can take care of with reserves we have set aside for some of this? Or is it going to require more significant financing, such as bonding. Really, at this point, the district nor the Board is looking out that far. They want to see what the information brings, then they’ll start discussing the next steps."
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