"Bittersweet" Failure of South Summit School District Bond

Nov 6, 2019

Voters in South Summit School narrowly defeat a bond for a new $87 million high school
Credit South Summit School District

With ballots still coming in – there are a couple of races in Tuesday’s election that are still too close to call, and at this point, both multi-million dollar school bonds in Summit and Wasatch County went down to defeat.

The closest contest is in the North Summit Recreation district with only 10 votes separating the decision. The district was asking voters to increase the mill levy on their property taxes to raise $35,000  a year to fund programming costs after the Summit County Council eliminated the annual stipend for the rec district starting next year.  

Another close race is in the Oakley City Council contest. Dave Neff, Joe Frazier and Tom Smart are the top three vote-getters for the four-year-term seats. However, Les England is only 15 votes behind Smart.

Summit County Clerk Kent Jones said the only race that he expects might have a different outcome is the recreation district vote.

The county’s vote canvass is set for November 18th.

52% of voters  in the South Summit School District voted against the $87 million bond to build a new high school on district-owned property west of Kamas. That’s only a difference of 123 votes between those for and against the bond. Despite their efforts to educate voters, Superintendent Shad Sorenson says even with more votes coming in, he doesn’t expect the margins of the vote will change, but did hear that there were a number of people who voted in person because they hadn’t received their ballot.  He said the vote was bittersweet.

 “I feel the board of education did due diligence in looking at all possible solutions and proposing what they felt was the best solution,” said Sorenson.  “And then having the opportunity to inform and educate and I think we did a much better job this time. My goal was that people did not have to vote without information. I’ve heard a lot of feedback from people  that they’ve appreciated all of the information that was provided from the district so they could make a decision. So, to me, that is a celebration. And when I talk about bittersweet that’s one of the sweets, because I think we did a great job in helping our community know the facts and know the information.”

He  thinks there are a few reasons why the bond lost. There are certainly those he says who feel over-taxed and just felt the bond was too expensive.

I think there’s another fraction that didn’t like the fact of where the facility was going to be located,” Sorenson said,  “and felt that  putting that facility there would be the first step in many homes and other things out there and taking away what they  want to conserve as pristine open space and I think there’s a small fraction that just didn’t see the need for a high school and felt a different plan maybe working on the other end with an elementary and then moving grades among schools if a new elementary school was built.”

Superintendent of South Summit School District Shad Sorenson.