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South Summit School District Ponders $75 Million For A New High School


Concerned about the financial hit to residents-the South Summit School Board has decided to lower the ask for a bond to build new schools to deal with growth. The board is moving forward with plans to put a $75 million bond on November's ballot-that's down from a $90 million bond the board had considered earlier. 

South Summit School District Superintendent, Shad Sorenson says they’ll add about a thousand more students in the next 10 years. They have immediate needs for a new high school, a realignment of grades to fit rapidly expanding student enrollment and a new elementary school in the Silver Summit neighborhood. Sorenson says a new South Summit High School will also need new athletic facilities.

“So, it will be a comprehensive high school. And, that’s one of the concerns of the community members saying, but we already have a nice stadium, and we do. The problem is when that stadium was built, we didn't have men's and women's soccer. We didn't have baseball we didn't have softball and we didn't have some of the intra-mural type of needs like lacrosse and rugby that some of our students are talking about. Our current facilities will not go under-utilized. We need them. Plus, we need those that will be built with the comprehensive high school.”

Sorenson says short term the Silver Summit Academy will meet the needs for middle and high school, but the elementary school is currently full. 
The costs of building materials and labor have gone up since the $58.65 million-dollar bond failure in 2017.  He says in addition to a high school, a new elementary school in Silver Creek is needed but for now they’re going to ask tax payers to bond just for the $75 million-dollar high school.

“At this point in time, those are both realistic needs. However realistic and needs don't always match what the pay check can afford and so the board has given serious consideration to that and they've decided at this point the focus needs to be first on passing that bond to build the high school. And then working in the shortcoming to then build an elementary later in Silver Creek.”

One-third of the South Summit school taxes are paid by residents and businesses in Promontory and the Silver Creek area. Less than one quarter, 22 percent of school taxes are paid by permanent residents in the district. A $75 million bond would translate into about $86 dollars per $100,000 dollars in property value. The average price of a home in the district is $438,000.

Sorenson says the plans for the new high school are not extravagant.

“It’s typically a two-year build out. We’re doing quite a bit of work now so that the voters know exactly what they're getting. There were a lot of rumors last time that there would be a covered football stadium and all of this state-of -the-art unrealistic expectations. This will be a traditional school that will meet the academic needs and the extracurricular needs of our students, not the luxurious, Taj Mahal type of building.”

They’ll hold public meetings in Francis, Oakley and Kamas during the month of April. In May, they’ll have a day-long open house at the district office. They’ll make a final decision on the bond initiative in August.

A link https://www.ssummit.org/to the South Summit School District can be found on KPCW.org.