Wasatch County School District Creates Future Schools Committee
The Wasatch County School District Board of Education revealed a new approach to engaging stakeholders as they navigate the challenges of the fastest growing county in Utah.
The failure of the $150 million bond referendum last year prompted the Wasatch County School District Board of Education to reconsider next steps in addressing how best to move forward. They plan to form a committee of stake holders to include county and municipal government, transportation experts, law enforcement and community members to participate in future education planning.
According to Superintendent Paul Sweat, they’ve added 1000 students to the High School in the past 10 years.
“It’s inevitable that there will be a second, high school in Wasatch County. I’m not sure that there is anyone that really argues with that. We opened a new high school 10 years ago. The day that high school opened, it had 1350 students in it. In just 10 years, we’re now up in that 24-2500 student mark. I think what we’re going to ask this committee to look at is timing of it. Is there really a strand of our community that wants us to hold off on a second-high school? OK, so for how long and how do we do that? What things can we do to make life as good as we can for our students?”
They plan to open all the meetings to the public, stream them live and provide recordings which will be posted on the school district’s web site. Sweat says the public gave them feedback a couple months ago about making it easier to submit public comment during school board meetings. If interested in commenting, he suggests contacting the appropriate board member.
"You know that's an issue that came up several months ago and the board responded by opening up a comment section at the beginning of every meeting. You don't have to submit your questions in advance. We had a board meeting last night, we had an open comment section, and we have now for several months, and the boards committed to doing that in the future.”
The future schools advisory committee will be open to everyone who wants to participate. They’ll start meeting in mid to late January.
“We certainly don’t have plans for a bond election in 2021. We're going to let the committee do the work that we asked them to do and we'll see how it plays out. We anticipate this future schools committee continuing for several months and if it takes a year, if it takes a year and a half, the boards committed to let them do their work. We're going to listen to what they have to offer, though they will sit in an advisory role to the school board, but the school board is certainly not going to go to the trouble of putting this together and not take the advice and the recommendations they make very seriously.”
In other school district business, hiring enough substitute teachers is a challenge during this COVID time. Sweat says the teachers cover for each other and have reached into their own networks to find qualified people to fill in.
Sweat says the administration is very pleased with how things are going since opening school in August. He believes it’s the safest place for children due to the supervised learning, adult support, wearing masks and hygiene protocols.
“Yes, we are very pleased with how it's being handled here in our district. We, and I think this is true in most school settings, what we believe is that the children are most safe at school. It's a controlled environment and they're all wearing masks and to date we would tell you that our COVID cases, that we have dealt with, very very small percentage would be transmissions at school. These transmissions are coming more at home at events that are happening whether it be in neighborhoods or family gatherings, but very, very few transmissions at school.”
Sweat says anyone interested in being a part of the future school’s planning efforts, should contact their school board representative.
A link to the contacts can be foundhere.