The Park City Board of Education unanimously endorsed three primary master planning initiatives in their meeting this week. It could result in expanding and remodeling six out of seven schools in the district.
A district wide grade realignment will be needed to follow the direction from the master planning committee. The community spoke loud and clear, says Superintendent Jill Gildea, that they want universal pre-school in each of the four neighborhood elementary schools. She says they are looking at a hybrid solution to also accommodate afterschool care.
“We all know as a community, the return on investment for early learning dollars is huge. So, the hybrid solution means that rather than doing one standalone building, that each of the four elementary schools will have an addition. Two of those elementary schools, a slightly larger addition to be able to manage the kids for longer periods of time than just 1/2-day program.”
Gildea says they’ll have architects look at each building and assess capacity and growth potential along with associated costs.
Under the master planning guidelines, the board will have to decide if the middle years students in 6th to 8th grade will go into an expanded Ecker Hill Middle School or if they will build a second middle school in the district. Gildea likes having one middle school because it creates a strong sense of community.
“It’s wonderful to see all the kids from the community come together to that school but they're gone in the blink of an eye with it being such a quick stop. Right now, it's a 6th, 7th grade and then transition again. So, what it does is, it eliminates one of our transitions. It lets our teachers get to know the kids and it really, developmentally it's really nice. The adolescent years are 6th, 7th, 8th grade the kids are growing almost as quickly as they grow when they’re toddlers. We're also going to look at pricing for what that would be if the community would elect to have two instead of the one middle school."
Gildea says Ecker Hill could be expanded adding another wing which would accommodate three grades. Moving 9th grade back into the high school was supported by previous boards and is widely supported by the public. They’re looking at schedules, space, potential remodel and renovation of the high school. Currently about half the 9th graders are attending the high school for classes each day. “I think that’s a slam dunk. I think that that’s a win for the community to have the high school kids a part of the high school. And we've been doing a lot of work this year to try to have the kids feel included in the high school experience as 9th graders because their grades and their transcript count. So, it means looking at the physical space of the classrooms in the high school. We have about 250 course offerings. We run about 50 courses per period. We have a four-period day, 90-minute block, A-B. Kids can access eight courses. So, we’ll have to look at that whole configuration of bringing 400 more kids over there.”
Gildea says they will be looking at the architect’s assessment to determine the costs of remodeling the six schools compared to building a new high school or middle school.
Treasure Mountain Junior High School has an uncertain future under the master planning initiative. Ideas like a community center, including a senior center have been tossed around. No vote was taken by the school board on the fate of the building.
School Board Vice President, Erin Grady says they continue to look at options for the entire Kearns Campus.
“Turning it more into like a campus style. We’re looking at that with the architects where we have some CTE space and then also more community where the seniors can be involved in that area.”
The Board also approved the district business administrator’s request to enter a contract with a bond architectural firm that would define the financial impacts of all the approved projects. Five firms responded to the RFP for service and a decision by the selection committee will be made early in January.
They anticipate it will take three to six months for the architectural firm to provide specific costs for each of the master planning recommendations.