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Park City High School could open a teen center in 2025

Davis Education Foundation
The food pantry located in Layton High School's teen center.

The Park City School District has received two grants to build a teen center at Park City High School. It must open in 2025 or the district will lose the grants.

Teen Centers are spaces in schools designed to provide support, resources and a safe environment for teens. They have laundry facilities, kitchens, study spaces and often a counseling area.

The nonprofit Policy Project began the effort to build teen centers in Utah because over 15,000 students in the state are classified as homeless and one in three are economically disadvantaged. Teen centers help these students and others get their basic needs met.

In 2023, the Utah legislature allocated $15 million to build teen centers. Private donors also raised $3 million to support the centers. Now over 70 schools in Utah have received funding.

The Park City School District received two grants to build a teen center at the high school. The Utah State Board of Education provided a $250,000 grant and the Policy Project provided a $30,000 grant. However, the district can only keep the grants if the center is open by June 30, 2025.

Chief Student Services Officer Carolyn Synan presented options for the center to the school board this month. There are three places on the high school’s campus where the center could potentially live, but she said the best place would be the former 3,600-square-foot woodshop, which is set to be replaced by a new construction lab that is being built in the Career and Technical Education area of the school.

Synan said transforming the old woodshop into a teen center would require an estimated $1.3 million in renovations to bring the building up to current codes and add specific facilities. One advantage to the building is a door that opens to the outdoors, which Synan said would help kids who suffer from school-related anxiety.

Park City High School teen center outline.
Park City School District

“I like the fact that the current woodshop has an outside door for our LC students who sometimes have anxiety walking through the big school, they can still enter through a side door to get to their classes,” she said.

Synan said her team also discussed putting the teen center in the main office and moving administration upstairs, or building it on the second floor in the middle of the school, but haven’t determined the cost for those locations.

However, technical manager at the Eccles Center Jason Jensen opposed building the teen center at the site of the old woodshop. He said while a door leading outside could help anxiety, the fact the performing arts venue is right next to the site complicates things as the center is regularly rented out to professional groups.

“They would be in and around that whole area for extended periods of time and as well, which could present problems that I think need to at least be examined thoroughly before a decision can be fully made,” Jensen said.

Jensen was also concerned about setting up water connections. The teen center needs plumbing for a kitchen, washing machines and bathrooms, which the woodshop doesn’t currently have.

The school board asked for additional information on all potential center locations and will discuss them at its next meeting June 18.