Park City School District prepares for change this academic year
Focus of 2022-2023 is construction of capital improvement projects
With Park City-area students returning to school hallways on Wednesday, Park City School District administrators have spent the summer gearing up for another academic year and preparing for the challenges that will likely come.
The School District is focused on enhancing programming and ongoing construction that will improve the district’s infrastructure as staff continues navigating the coronavirus pandemic. Superintendent Dr. Jill Gildea said in an interview the projects at the center of the School District’s years-long master planning process are a top priority heading into the 2022-2023 academic year.
Voters last November overwhelmingly approved a $79.2 million school improvement bond, which represents the cost of projects at Park City High School as well as Jeremy Ranch and McPolin elementary schools. The bond is just one funding source for capital improvement projects estimated to cost around $129 million in total. The School District plans to use other financing mechanisms to cover work proposed at Parley’s Park and Trailside elementary schools and Ecker Hill Middle School.
The high school redesign, which is currently underway, will help create a more comprehensive learning experience, Gildea said. The upgrades will create specialized classrooms for new career tech classes such as aviation and modernize facilities to benefit existing programs such as culinary arts or construction.
“For the next two school years, we do anticipate that renovations will be going on,” Gildea said.
The new aviation class will be offered during the 2022-2023 school year. Students will be exposed to various aspects of the industry, from maintenance and weather to air-traffic control and piloting an aircraft. A certified flight instructor will be leading the course and students will have the opportunity to earn a drone pilot certificate. Michael Tanner, the School District’s chief operations officer, said the class may help address the shortage of pilots or inspire students to become involved in search and rescue or film-industry work.
Construction is also planned at Ecker Hill Middle School. Tanner said the district is working through Summit County’s approval process. He anticipates the district will receive permission to start work on the bus lot behind the school soon and expects overall project approval will come in several weeks.
The project will expand the middle school to sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Treasure Mountain Junior High, which houses eighth and ninth graders, will eventually be decommissioned as freshmen head to Park City High School. Gildea said this will happen after the 2025 school year.
The School District in July was ordered to stop construction at Jeremy Ranch Elementary after county officials said the district lacked the proper permits. Fencing is currently in place around the construction zone. The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the School District’s application for a conditional-use permit at an Aug. 23 meeting. Work could resume if the permit is obtained.
District administrators said Jeremy Ranch will be open in time for the first day of school with no impact on the building’s interior. The bus loading and unloading location will be temporarily displaced during the project, but Tanner said there should be minimal impact.
Construction at the other elementary schools is expected to begin this fall or in the spring of 2023. Each of the four schools will add new space for preschool programs and two schools will also add multipurpose rooms for other services.
“We always have a long waiting list for 3- and 4-year-olds to try to access some preschool so we’re trying to help with that community need,” Gildea said. “That little bit of additional learning space that could be used for parent education, could be after-school education, could be our community ed programs like learning Spanish or English.”
District administrators expect the work will be consistent over the next few years, but it will likely be the heaviest during school breaks. While they do not anticipate disruptions to the learning environment, there will be modifications to the school’s parking and traffic flow.
Construction at Park City High School is taking place at the northwest corner of the school with construction traffic entering from Lucky John Drive to the north. There are no changes to bus or vehicle flow, but pedestrians will be unable to access the building doors on the north and west sides. Parking at the high school is limited and student parking is available in the nearby Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints parking lot.
Parking is also limited at Treasure Mountain Junior High due to work at McPolin Elementary. Traffic will be routed in a one-way, single-lane flow once motorists enter the campus lot. Children can be dropped off in front of the school on the west side. School bus pick-up and drop-off locations will remain unchanged on the east side. Buses will follow the same traffic flow as other vehicles. Students walking between the junior high and high school will be routed along the south of the junior high to the existing pathway.
A new parent drop-off lane was created outside of McPolin Elementary school to enhance safety and improve the flow of traffic. Vehicles will follow a one-way lane to the campus, where two lanes will open for drop-off. Buses will be rerouted to Lucky John Drive and park in a waiting area west of the elementary school and north of the baseball fields. District personnel will accompany children during the walk. Parents are asked to avoid parking in this location to wait.
Jeremy Ranch Elementary buses will load and unload adjacent to the school. Children will walk to and from school through a fenced walkway. The staff parking lot on the school’s west side was also eliminated.
There are currently no changes to the traffic flow at Ecker Hill Middle School. When construction starts in September, the plan is for buses to load and unload in the western Ecker park-and-ride lot, along the north side of Kilby Road and across from the church. Children will walk from the bus location through the Kilby Road underpass and enter the school on the west side. School staff will supervise the children, but the plan may change based on safety.
Parents are encouraged to reduce traffic by carpooling or sending their children on the bus if they’re eligible. Motorists are reminded to drive safely in construction zones and to cooperate with traffic-control signals.
“We ask for patience and flexibility during the construction process,” Tanner said.
District administrators also seek the community’s cooperation in limiting the spread of COVID-19. The School District is mirroring Summit County’s approach to the pandemic and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, such as recommending masks, but not requiring them, and enhancing cleaning procedures. Gildea said the district will also keep track positive cases, but they won’t be made public unless there’s an outbreak. Parents are reminded to keep their children home if they’re showing symptoms of COVID-19.
The first day back for Park City School District students is Wednesday. South Summit School District students return the following day while North Summit School District students go back on Aug. 24.
Summit County Clerk Evelyn Furse said ballots are expected to be mailed on Oct. 18 and should arrive later that week.
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