Record editorial: South Summit is again seeking funding for a new high school. It’s critical that voters give it to them.
At first, the South Summit School District did not succeed.
Residents who want their children in the Kamas Valley to have a first-rate education should be pleased the district is acting on the next part of the oft-used proverb: try, try again.
Two years after voters scuttled an initial bond measure to fund a new high school meant to solve the district’s dire overcrowding problems, school officials have placed another one on the ballot.
It’s critical that, this time, residents back the effort.
There is no way to sugarcoat the situation in South Summit’s schools. The district’s core facilities are already at or above capacity, and projections indicate the situation will get much worse without action. For instance, the current high school, which is expected to face the most severe pressure from growth, is projected to hit 130% capacity in five years and 140% in 10.
Building a new high school fixes the problem by spreading the student body over four core facilities — plus Silver Summit Academy — rather than three.
Some residents have expressed resistance to the prospect of constructing a new high school. Their concerns range from the $87 million cost of the bond to the proposed location of the facility, planned for a swath of open land just west of Kamas.
But there do not seem to be many other viable solutions. The district has explored ideas like expanding the current schools or building two new elementary schools, but the alternatives each proved problematic for a variety of reasons such as practicality and cost.
In fairness to some of the bond’s detractors, the price for taxpayers would be far from cheap. The owner of an average primary residence valued at $423,000 would pay an estimated $358 annually, which is a week’s worth of groceries for some families and represents a significant jump from what the 2017 bond would have cost (officials say the price has jumped due to rising construction costs).
If residents are unwilling to pony up for the new school, though, the district will remain mired in the same overcrowding problem with no reprieve in sight. In that case, it would be the students in the Kamas Valley who pay the price.
For their part, school officials are adamant the first bond failed not because the idea to build a new high school wasn’t sound, but rather because they failed to educate voters about why it was necessary. They’re banking that a more concerted effort this time around will result in a different outcome.
Hopefully, they’re right. With the future of the district, and the students it’s charged with educating, hanging in the balance, they can’t afford to not be.
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