Record editorial: South Summit school officials must get back to work after second bond defeat
The South Summit School District is going to have to go back to the drawing board.
Not by choice. But by necessity after voters on Tuesday rejected the district’s $87 million bond measure that would have funded a new high school. It was the second time in three years that residents have shot down such a proposal, as a $58.65 million bond in 2017 also failed to gain enough support from voters.
School officials don’t have long to lick their wounds. The severe overcrowding problems the district sought to address by building a new high school didn’t disappear simply because voters unfortunately determined the bond proposal wasn’t the right way to solve them.
There are no easy answers. The district has already explored ideas like building a new elementary school or adding wings to the current high school but discarded them because they weren’t fiscally prudent.
School officials now must get creative. Regardless of Tuesday’s vote, the district is still charged with providing the best possible education to its students, something that the overcrowding problems will prevent as enrollment at the schools, already near or above capacity, balloons in the coming years.
In the near-term, it is likely the district will increase the number of portable classrooms it uses to house students, but bolder solutions will be needed going forward.
Before the 2017 bond measure, for instance, the district broached the possibility of operating the schools year-round and implementing a system in which some students attend class in certain months of the year while others attend on a different schedule. The possibility of that idea coming to fruition seems remote — school officials at the time indicated education trends in Utah were moving away from year-round schools — but it represents the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that is now needed.
To their credit, district officials seemed resolved after Tuesday’s defeat, with Board of Education President Suni Woolstenhulme committing to get back to work immediately on the problem and the school board pledging to evaluate how to move forward at a meeting Thursday.
That’s a good thing. With the education of students in the Kamas Valley at stake, they can’t let the sting of two failed bonds stop them.
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