South Summit School District goes back to the drawing board | ParkRecord.com

South Summit School District goes back to the drawing board

South Summit grapples with student growth

Ashley Stockley, from right, Mariah Bergen, Portia Gough, Hanna Hatch and Elizabeth Sampson walk towards the football field as the South Summit High School graduation commencement festivities begin Thursday afternoon, May 24, 2018. Each female graduate carried a single rose as they filed onto the field. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

After months of planning for future growth in the South Summit School District, last fall's $59 million school bond failed at the polls, with 1,167 voters saying no, outnumbering the 939 who supported the bond. "The bond failure was a disappointment for sure," says Superintendent Shad Sorenson. "But those opposed to it just didn't come out and say it."

That's despite the fact that the district purchased a $2 million piece of land for a new high school ahead of the vote.

So, without a bond, the South Summit School Board approved a tax increase this year of $407,000 for 2019.

"We are at capacity," says Sorenson. Projections for growth will strain the district's schools.

"We have two plans in place now," he adds. "We'll either build a new elementary school in Francis, on district-owned land, or build a new high school."

But some of the most surprising growth is coming from the western boundary, near the Promontory development. A new housing development, Silver Creek Village, will likely flood the district's schools with new students.  A 37.5-acre school site donated by Promontory unfortunately has to be remediated of contaminated soils before it can be used.

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In the interim, the Silver Summit Academy nearby is a K-12 facility with a blended learning environment, with teacher instruction coupled with digital content. The 125 secondary and 75 elementary students concentrate on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) learning.

But despite the tax increase and innovative new ways of learning, Sorenson says the district isn't done trying.

"For sure there will be another bond on the ballot in 2019," he says.