The Midway Elementary School was built in 1975 to accommodate 300 students. If the $150 million school bond passes in November, The Wasatch School District plans to replace the school. The bond referendum was approved last week by the school board.ListenListening…2:53The Wasatch County School Board approved the $150 million bond referendum to build a second Wasatch High School and a replacement elementary school in Midway. District Communications spokesperson, John Moss says, if the bond is successful, the district will make a land swap with the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints church to build a bigger school for the growing Midway population.
“And, they were willing to trade that property for where the school is sitting. And that really ended up being a good deal for the school district to do that. Midway Elementary has been a wonderful school. It was built in ‘75 for 300 students. And it’s pushing close to 800 now.”
The school has been upgraded and remodeled a couple of times. The layout is not conducive to education norms that include keeping students, classes and administration closely connected.
“So, there’s not a lot of interaction. Whereas the newer designs that we’ve been putting in our valley, we put the office right in the center of the school, so the kids are involved, and the administration is right there with them. It’s a much more functional design.”
If the bond passes, the new elementary school will be built while students remain in the old school location. Moss says when schools are too big, there is a loss of intimacy. They are striving for a high school no larger than 4A size. Wasatch High School is anticipated to move into a 6A category in the next couple of years.
“Both Washington County and Cache County have been building on a regular basis trying to keep their schools at that size. That’s the model we want to follow and if we are not successful with the bond this year, then we would probably put it on the ballot again next year because we think it is that important.”
Moss says the impetus for the bond did not originate with the school board.
“The reason that this was pushed was the board members had so many people coming to them to say, it’s time for a new high school. This wasn’t the board initiating this. This was the people coming to the board and saying we need to have a high school.”
The Extell/MIDA development of the Mayflower Resort in the northern part of the school district has tax breaks built in that allows developers to put the bulk of their tax revenues back into the infrastructure under what is called Tax Increment Financing.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how that happens but we are aware of that growth and we do have property in the northern end of the county that we are holding on to, to in the future, build for elementary students that live in that part. We’ll have to continue to build schools. With the growth, that’s all we can do.”
Plans to build a third high school is not yet in the works but the board plans to set aside the property to address the future growth of the northern part of Wasatch County.
“There’s a Sorenson development over here and they’ve offered the district 50-acres to build a high school, we’re not building the high school on that property at this time, we are going to hold on to that.”
Moss encourages all stake holders to engage in the process and provide input to the Wasatch School District Board of Education. The next meeting is Thursday, September 19.
Read the original story at KPCW.org