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Park City schools officials share details on what bond will pay for

Park City High School
One change Park City School District says the $79 million bond would help fund is expanding the high school to include ninth grade.

As voters receive their mail-in ballots this week for the upcoming election, school officials are working to get the word out about what the proposed $79 million school bond will – and will not – pay for.

Park City School Board member Andrew Caplan and School District Business Administrator Todd Hauber spoke to KPCW Tuesday and sought to assure voters that current bond differs from the district’s last bond attempt, which voters rejected in 2015.

"All the money is being spent on academics," Caplan said. "There are no projects on the side such as athletic redevelopment and things like that. And when we look forward at building a new baseball, Diamond building, upgrading our gym facilities, things like that we want to do so in concert with base rack with the city with the county etc and that will be kind of phase two."

They highlighted Tuesday that the bond seeks to pay for priorities identified by the community: a four-year-high school, a three-year middle school, universal pre-k and energy sustainability. And they acknowledged that the price tag is high, but prices on construction and everything else have climbed steadily.

"This is not the board's projects. This is not the administration's projects. This is the community's projects, the community's goals, what the community what our educators want, you know, education and our facilities to look like," Caplan said. "And that's what the project reflects. Now it is a big headline number, but in today's marketplace where, you know, we have homes in this community that are selling for multiple millions of dollars, you know, it's a big price tag on an absolute basis, but on a relative basis. It's not as big as it may seem."

For homeowners in the district, the bond will cost $100 annually for a residence valued at $945,000 for up to 21 years.

Caplan said the district is raising private funds to help offset project costs – and said an anonymous family had agreed to donate $2 million.

"Large corporations including, you know, Intermountain and Zions Bank and a number of the business leaders in the state have really taken a leadership approach and approached the district and said look, we want to be part of, you know, helping education; we want to be part of impacting social change," Caplan said. "You know, they're willing to work with us to create interesting, unique financial arrangements, potentially from philanthropy, etc. The good news here is that everyone understands these are community facilities, the benefits of them and the usage of them will be shared across the community. I think that's why there's a lot more buy-in from these foundations and there would have been in the past."

Caplan said the philanthropy would constitute a groundbreaking public-private partnership for the school district. He and Hauber would not comment further on the private family donation and whether the district has a promissory note or other guarantee of those funds.

Ballots were mailed this week, and deadline to drop them into drop boxes is 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 2. For a list of drop box locations go to summitcounty.org.