A recent demographic study done for the Park City School District shows the potential for flat or even declining growth in enrollment over the next decade.
With this new information, the school board meets on Tuesday, March 16, to discuss a possible school bond initiative to meet its three priorities.
Park City School District Business Administrator Todd Hauber said a new demographic study was needed as the most recent one from five years ago had grown outdated.
The district also has to anticipate the enrollment impacts of the 27 development projects in the school district and the decline in Utah’s birth rate even as the state’s population grows.
“We’re anticipating somewhere between 300 to 500 students coming in through that process, and then we have our natural decline that's happening, so there's somewhat of an offset,” Hauber said. “But it's not a total offset, so the projection indicates there's a decline over the next five years and into the next ten. So, at this point, we have a snapshot of what we could anticipate, and we'll wait for reality to catch up."
The two-year master planning process identified three priorities that Hauber said will need to happen regardless of declining enrollment. The most pressing is moving ninth grade students out of Treasure Mountain Middle School into Park City High School, then shifting the eighth grade to Ecker Hill Middle School. The third priority expands all four district elementary schools to accommodate universal pre-school. These projects, Hauber said, each have several options.
"From the standpoint of the functionality of the school buildings and the need to accommodate the grade realignment, definitely we have facilities that could be better for the future and learning environments that we're looking at with the better flexible space, the better traffic flows through the buildings as well as the desire that we have coming from the board and from the community that the ninth graders really need to be in the ninth grade building and having that full high school experience,” Hauber said. “And then having the eighth graders join their other grades for a solid middle school; junior high experience."
The school board is looking at phasing the projects, which would start with the high school expansion at a cost of $53 million. In another five to 10 years down the road, the district will consider remodeling the Eccles Center as part of a standard facilities update.
The second master planning priority would turn Ecker Hill Middle School into a sixth through eighth-grade institution.
Three options are being considered, including building a brand new school.
But the board, Hauber said, is more inclined to favor a $35 million expansion.
"What we're looking at in the option A is just taking the current architecture that's there at Ecker and adding the additional classrooms that would be needed as wings off of the main hub of the school there,” he said.
The Park City Board of Education will consider running an $88 million school bond on this November’s ballot. If passed by voters, the money would pay for the high school and middle school expansions.
The school board meeting starts at 4 P.M. on Tuesday, March 16, at the district’s office, 2700 Kearns Blvd. in Park City.