South Summit holds public hearing
The South Summit School District scheduled a public hearing Thursday night, an opportunity for community members to voice their opinions on building a new district office. For the past several months, the school board and administrators have been discussing whether or not the district should upgrade the current offices, and the board is expected to make a decision after hearing public input.
"Our board really wants the public to know what’s going on," said Superintendent Barry Walker, "to be aware of what the plans are. We want to be open and give the community an opportunity to express whether this is an appropriate use of funds. Also, this gives neighbors close to potential building a chance to express concerns or reservations."
The South Summit School District offices are currently housed in a double-wide trailer that has been in use for more than three decades. The 1,500-square-foot office requires regular maintenance, a constant drain on school district funds, Walker said. Now, the school board is looking into a piece of property the district already owns a 2.5 acre lot in Kamas, located at 290 East 300 South.
If the school board approves the project, the school district hopes to begin construction this spring. What the new offices will look like, the square footage and possible add-ons, has yet to be decided, but the school board is considering several possible additions that would serve the school district in the future.
"The plan is that a new district office would meet our needs for several years in future," Walker said, "it would meet the school district’s needs for 30 years, at least.
"We’re planning for some additional office space, a larger board room, some public restrooms and additional storage space for records."
In September, the Salt Lake City-based architecture firm Naylor Wentworth Lund Architects estimated that a 5,000 square foot space could house district employees comfortably, with a possible construction cost of roughly $1 million, according to a story that ran in The Park Record.
Right now, four district employees, including Walker, work day-to-day in the current offices, but if the new building were approved, both the district nurse and the district IT specialist would move.
In addition to creating more space for district employees, a new district office would have the potential to serve students and an adult education program. Adding two classrooms to the new building would serve as a growing concurrent enrollment program, create more room to tutor online students and allow the district to bring back its adult education programs.
The district is already in the process of creating the adult education program, submitting an application to the state earlier this year, and is looking into creating an online educational program for home schooled students in grade K thru 12. The online educational program would provide additional support in the classrooms, and adult education courses would be held during the night.
With the rising interest among students to take college-level courses in high school, Walker said the district is running out of space to house students.
"Concurrent enrollment has a ton of kids," Walker said. "It’s a program where students can sign up and take online college classes, even earning an Associate’s Degree before they go to college. We have a few students every year who do that, but every year there are more and more."
"Right now, we have a couple of small rooms at high school in one room, we will fit 17 or 18 students, but it is very cramped. We’re looking for bigger space for them."
An intervention program targeting at-risk students will be moved into the concurrent enrollment classes.
"I believe the board is in favor of the project, but they will want to wait and listen to the public," Walker said. "We need to see how people feel about it and make the final decision from there."
The meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13, stating at 6:45 p.m. in the South Summit School District Office. The hearing will be held during the regularly scheduled School Board Meeting. For those who would like to participate in the public comment portion of the meeting, contact Melanie Mitchell at email@example.com or at 435-783-4301.
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