Education: Here come the kids
The schools are bursting at the seams
This story is found in the 2019 edition of Milepost.
South Summit School Bond
Ask any builder or homeowner, and it’s no secret that construction costs are skyrocketing in Summit County. That’s exactly the conundrum faced by the South Summit School Board recently when they had to increase the size of their bond proposal for a new high school and new athletic facilities, from $75 million to $87 million, due to increased costs. The 200,000 square-foot school would be built west of Kamas on district-owned land.
There’s little choice but to build more facilities and remodel older ones. The current elementary and high school are at capacity, with little space to expand. The middle school was built for 300 students, not the 500 it currently has.
The South Summit School district is projecting 1,000 more students by 2028, a 48 percent increase. The 1,300 homes being built at Silver Creek Village on the eastern margins of the Snyderville Basin, are within the South Summit School district, and there are other developments coming too. School districts cannot control growth, but they do need to plan ahead for it.
And the South Summit School District has already tightened their belts, by reducing some costs. This fall the South Summit Board of Education reallocated $143,000 from athletics to teacher salaries and supplies. Athletic expenses will now be borne by the students through student fees, although the school district will still pay coaches’ and cover travel, as well as keeping facilities in shape. But some coaches may leave their programs after the reduction in funds. The 4% teacher wage increase comes to around $600,000 this year, and is essential to attract, and keep, teachers, especially with the high housing costs.
The Board of Education has also committed to use some of their capital funds for the first seven years, to lessen the bond payment, and anticipate that new growth afterwards will be enough to cover the bond payment. In 2017 a $58 million bond proposal was defeated by just a few hundred votes. This tax increase, if enabled, would mean that a primary home resident would pay $365 more per year on an average home value of $423,000. Nearly a quarter of the bond will be paid for by primary residents, and nearly 40% by second homes, who traditionally have no children in the schools.
With a tax increase from Summit County two years ago, and a 140 percent tax increase last year from the South Summit Fire Protection District, residents are feeling stressed. Now it will be up to the voters to decide on the future of their schools this November.
Wasatch School Bond
Wasatch County is growing fast, having added 1,200 more students over the past six years. That’s the same as building eight new classrooms every year, and over the next seven years they project a 22 percent increase in students. In November voters will decide on a $150 million bond that will include two new schools, including a new high school north of Heber City.
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