South Summit unveils two options for new schools
District could build new high school, or two elementaries
April 18, 2017
The South Summit School District could be getting a major makeover.
For months, the district has been involved in a master-planning process aimed at solving capacity issues increasingly plaguing each of its schools. On Tuesday, the district was set in a public meeting to unveil for the first time two options to alleviate the problem.
According to Kip Bigelow, the district's business administrator, the first would be to build a new high school on the west side of Kamas. Under that scenario, the grade structure would be reworked, with the existing schools housing different grades of students — in essence, kindergarten through 12th grade would be split over four schools instead of three. Currently, the district has three facilities in Kamas: an elementary school for grades K through four, a middle school for grades five through eight and a high school that houses ninth through 12th grades.
The district is under contract to buy land for the school but has not finalized the deal, Bigelow said, declining to offer further details.
The other option would be to build two new elementary schools — one in Oakley and another in Francis, both on land the district already owns. Bigelow said the three existing schools would also be utilized under that plan, though the details were uncertain.
After presenting the scenarios to the public Tuesday, the district's master-planning committee will likely offer a recommendation on its preferred option to the Board of Education within a month, Bigelow said. The school board would then vote whether or not to move forward with the plan. If it does, the district would put a bond measure on the ballot this fall to pay for the bulk of the project, whose price tag would total roughly $57 million, according to preliminary estimates. The project would also include repairs to the current schools.
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Bigelow said the two options were the result of the master-planning committee's work and feedback from the public in recent months.
"As they looked at the different options, the costs of those options, the needs within the district and what they felt the community wanted, those are the two that kept coming to the top," he said.
Regardless of which option is ultimately chosen, the district intends to include an additional facility near the Silver Creek Village, a large housing development planned southeast of the Interstate 80/U.S. 40 interchange that could eventually bring hundreds of students into the district.
Until the number of students there warrants a regular school, however, the district is proposing a stopgap measure: Silver Summit Academy, an online school for children in grades kindergarten through 12. Superintendent Shad Sorenson said the school would offer an "academically rigorous, personalized K through 12 education focused on science, technology, math, engineering, arts, leadership and entrepreneurship." Bigelow said students would perform much of their work over the computer and would come to the campus for things like tutoring and testing. The district is under contract for a building to house the school, but was unable to provide additional information.
Bigelow added that students who don't wish to attend the academy will be able to instead go to the district's traditional schools.
"We just felt there was a need to service those students in our district over there," he said. "We basically want to get a presence in the area."
The district initially began exploring building new facilities because its three current schools are bursting after a 16 percent increase in enrollment over the last decade. According to data from the district, schools are projected to be 33 percent over capacity in five years if no new buildings are constructed.
Given that, the public has been supportive of the master-planning effort so far, Bigelow said.
"The pulse that I get is that they're very supportive," he said. "That's only those that we've been in contact with — there may be others out there that feel differently. But the input we're getting is the public understands our need and are supportive. They're just waiting for us to provide more information."
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