The Wasatch County School Board unanimously passed a resolution to place a $150 million bond on November’s ballot. The money would be used to build a second Wasatch High School and replace an aging elementary school in Midway.
Wasatch High School has a Freshman class of more than 600 students this year. Last year there were 2100 students enrolled in the high school. Early counts show this year, they’ll have about 2300.
John Moss is the Wasatch County School District spokesperson and he says making the decision to bond for a second-high school was very difficult. They anticipate the school exceeding 2600 students in the next couple of years. He says the large school size goes against the philosophy of the board and other community leaders. He says kids need to have extracurricular opportunities.
“You still only have five kids on the basketball floor. You only have 12 sterling scholars. You only have 50 kids who get to do a play. You separate into two schools and now you double all those opportunities for students. And, we think that’s an important thing. It’s been shown that academic performance improves as kids get involved in extra- curricular activities and so we want to make sure we provide those opportunities for the kids.”
Moss says if the bond passes, they’ll duplicate the floor plan of the existing high school. They’ve considered building a STEM – CTE type of school but he says feedback shows people want a comprehensive high school that uses their existing Wasatch High School model.
“It’s such a functional floor plan, so they will be building the same high school with probably some improvements we have learned over the last 10 years of working in this one. But this is a very functional high school. In fact, we believe in the comprehensive high school model. We want kids to be able to do a little bit of everything. We want kids to get exposed to life in general and to give them the chance to take the classes they want.”
A 50-acre parcel is on Midway Lane at the south end of Heber. If the bond passes, it will be the new high school location. It’s under contract for about $6 million.
The $150 million bond would cost taxpayers $44.00 per $100,000 in property value.
“When we bonded for Wasatch High School, we were bonding for $59 million dollars and the taxpayer had to pay $78.00 per $100,000 of property value. So, the cost is much, much less per individual even when we built this high school.”
Moss says if the bond does not pass in November, they’ll likely try again in 2020. They will also consider adding temporary, portable classroom space.
If the $150 million bond passes this year, a portion of the funds would be used to build a new, replacement facility for the Midway Elementary School. More details on this proposal can be found in a subsequent KPCW report.