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Park City School Board Has Until Aug. 17 to Decide How to Finance $153M Master Plan

Park City School District

More than $150 million in school facilities expansions are moving ahead in the Park City School District. The school board received an update on Tuesday and gave Business Administrator Todd Hauber authorization to proceed.


The Park City School District Master Plan entails renovating and expanding six of the seven schools in the district. The changes would accommodate grade realignments and new programming. 


The total price tag is $153 million to move ninth grade into Park City High School, move eighth grade into Ecker Hill Middle School and expand all four elementary schools to offer universal Pre-K and before- and after-school services.


The administration will identify a selection committee that will consider cost proposals. 


“So, the timeline is the responders have until July 2 to put their qualification packets together,” Hauber said. “The selection committee will then start its work and put its recommendation together for board review that, simultaneous with that, will be the request for proposal. So, we'll qualify up to three firms, and then we'll talk to those three firms and say here's the very specifics of the project we know you can do it. Now, this is what we want you to do." 


The selection committee will make a recommendation to the board during the Aug. 17 meeting. 


Hauber said the committee was happy with the responses from the architecture, design and engineering firms interested in bidding. As a result, work could begin as soon as this fall. 


The board hasn't decided how it will finance the school district building projects but will likely begin talks in August.


If the board determines a general obligation bond is the way to go, they'll look at all six school facilities projects. 


"We want to look holistically at all of the capital projects and put a bond proposition together, should that be the decision that encompasses the whole gamut of what we're looking at,” Hauber said. “The high school project obviously is one of those elements that would be in that proposition.” 


If a school bond doesn't pass, Hauber said the needs of the district don't change. Instead, it’ll look at other financing options. 


“We have the need to bring the eighth graders over to Ecker Hill and the opportunities for preschool,” he said. “Those exist. So, we would have to find a financing option that then helps support those goals. Whether it's a lease revenue, it may be that it happens in pieces, over time, so that it fits more the conventional size of a lease revenue bond, but in the end, the need is still there, and so we'd find a way to fill that need." 


Hauber said they want to move quickly and get students into the new buildings as soon as possible. 


Financial advisors have provided scenarios outlining the costs to taxpayers for the two different options—the lease revenue bonds and the general obligation bond. If growth trends stay the same on assessed valuations, it will reduce the burden on individual taxpayers.     


"So, what we're looking at is something that's probably in the $5 to $6 million range for principal and interest on an annual basis,” Hauber said. “The principal and interest payment will still be the same so that responsibility doesn't change. But how much an individual might pay towards that will." 


The school board will have to decide on a GO bond financing option during the Aug. 17 meeting to meet state requirements for a bond initiative to be put on November's ballot.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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