Proposition 1: Park City School District’s $56 million bond
October 21, 2015
Overview: The Park City School District is asking voters to approve a $56 million bond it claims is necessary to keep up with enrollment growth and to upgrade outdated facilities. The bond would fund much of a $66 million project list that includes: Park City High School expansion and gym remodel ($27.5 million); a new fifth- and sixth-grade school at Ecker Hill campus ($24.8 million); improvements to McPolin Elementary School ($1.4 million); demolition of Treasure Mountain Junior High ($606,336 — none from the bond); athletic facilities improvements ($12 million).
If passed, the 20-year bond would cost homeowners of an average primary residence valued at $639,000 a total of $123 a year, or roughly $19.25 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.
Critics of the bond have claimed that the district rushed it onto the ballot and failed to thoroughly evaluate other, cheaper options and that the master-planning process should have lasted at least another year. The district has firmly rejected that notion, saying the projects the bond would fund are immediate needs and are in the best interest of Park City students.
PCHS expansion: Under the district’s plan, a wing would be added to Park City High School to accommodate the addition of ninth-graders into the school. Additionally, the basketball gym would be upgraded, as well as the facilities for several specialty programs, such as music, dance and engineering.
According to the district, the upgraded amenities are sorely needed and would benefit hundreds of students. However, critics have been opposed to the district expanding the school to the west, which would necessitate moving Dozier Field to the eastern part of the Kearns campus, near the would-be demolished Treasure Mountain Junior High.
New fifth- and sixth-grade school: To accommodate a realigned grade structure that the Board of Education passed earlier this year, a school for fifth- and sixth-graders would be built near Ecker Hill Middle School. Specifics of the design have not yet been determined, but the school would share some facilities, such as the kitchen and auditorium, with Ecker Hill Middle School.
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The district has touted the combined campus design as being a benefit to students, who would have to make one fewer transition between schools in their educational careers, saying that could decrease the drop-out rate. But others have claimed that fifth-graders shouldn’t be clumped on the same campus with eighth-graders. Some have said that two neighborhood middle schools should be built instead, so that, among other benefits, students from Park City proper wouldn’t have to commute to the Basin for four years.
McPolin Elementary improvements: The planned changes to McPolin Elementary include moving the parking lot for a safer traffic flow and building a new entrance to the school. Space will remain west of the school for a potential expansion in the future, though that is not part of the projects currently being considered.
Treasure Mountain Junior High demolition: Though money from capital reserves would be used to tear down Treasure Mountain Junior High, rather than funds from the bond, it is a crucial part of the district’s plan for the Kearns campus. The school is on the chopping block due to functionality and safety issues, including an unreinforced masonry structure and poor traffic flow. The district says the school, which has had problems since it was built, has reached the end of its useful life, a claim backed up by many teachers and students who teach or attend class there.
Some residents have countered that they would rather see the building repaired instead of demolished, but the district has said the wholesale repairs it would take to fix the school would not be worth the millions of dollars in cost. Others have claimed the district is right to raze the building but would like to see another middle school built at the site rather than athletic facilities that would go there under the district’s plan.
PCHS athletic facilities improvements: Athletic fields, including Dozier Field and tennis courts, would be moved to near the site of the demolished Treasure Mountain Junior High. The improvements would include facilities such as new locker rooms, concessions and storage space, and may potentially include an indoor athletic field house, as well.
The district has said that Park City High School’s athletic facilities don’t measure up with comparable schools, and that the improvements would benefit hundreds of student athletes. The opposition, however, claims that the project is too costly and that the district should be focused on improving the academic experience for students, not the athletic one. Others have also opposed the plan because of the cost associated with moving Dozier Field and the negative effects a new field could have on neighbors surrounding the new location.