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Sandy Journal

Voters approve $283 million bond to improve schools; construction expected by June

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Julie Slama

The conceptual drawing seen here could be a likely look for Alta High, made possible with the passing of the 2017 school district bond. (Brian McGill/Alta High School)

When Alta High first opened, teachers Ricque Ochoa and Brent Palmer were among the school faculty.

In 2018, when Alta High turns 40, the third phase of the remodel of the school is expected, thanks to voters who in November approved a tax-neutral $283 million bond to modernize and upgrade Canyons School District schools.

“The initial recommendation by the administration is to begin with the high schools,” Superintendent Jim Briscoe said. “The rationale is that construction costs will increase significantly every year, so we’re fiscally more responsible to work on these projects first. Plus, they will impact more students initially and in the years to come.”

An estimated $38.5 million of the bond will focus on Alta’s new auditorium and performing arts areas, commons and main school and counseling offices as well as athletic updates and possibly an additional gym or field house built at Alta High, said Principal Brian McGill, who attended the school as a student.

He also said the school needs to update its infrastructure and overhaul its heating, air conditioning and plumbing.

The school already has conceptual renderings as well as an architectural firm and construction crew in place.

“These are just preliminary designs. We want to hold town hall meetings and hear what all our stakeholders have to say,” McGill said, adding that he already has talked with a group of 30 students, the School Community Council and the PTA about the bond prior to it passing with 57 percent of the vote.

Canyons School District Business Administrator Leon Wilcox said the goal of the project at Alta, as at other schools, will be to have little disruption to students, who will remain onsite during construction.

Three other high schools — Corner Canyon, Brighton and Hillcrest — also have renderings in place and will benefit from the bond, Wilcox said.

Both 55-year-old Hillcrest in Midvale and 48-year-old Brighton in Cottonwood Heights will be completely rebuilt in stages so students will attend class at their campuses, he said.

“Currently, there is no infrastructure at Hillcrest to support 21st-century learning,” Wilcox said.

Both schools also are looking at improvements in the performing arts areas and auditoriums as well as extending athletic facilities, including possibly adding field houses to the campus, Wilcox said.

“We are still in the preliminary stage and in discussion with school plans, but we’re exploring ideas and costs and trying to find better ways to serve our students,” he said.

Hillcrest is estimated to cost $85 million and Brighton $87 million. Both schools’ first phases are expected to be underway in summer 2018 and currently have architects and construction companies in place, he said.

At Corner Canyon High in Draper, an estimated $4.5 million of the bond is earmarked to add 16 classrooms to the east side of the building and remove the current 12 portables that serve students, Wilcox said, adding that construction will take place during the summer of 2018 and 2019.

At Sandy’s Union Middle School, Principal Kelly Tauteoli is grateful the bond passed.

“I’m thrilled that the community could see the need in our schools and backed it financially,” she said, adding that a date for construction at the school has not been set.

Initial thoughts for Union Middle is to construct a new school at an estimated $45 million on the same property while students attend class in the existing 49-year-old building, Tauteoli said.

“I’m grateful that people could see our school isn’t earthquake safe and needs updates in technology, science labs, heating and air conditioning and natural lighting. Our parents have expressed an interest in a beautiful auditorium for our performing arts. We want our students and teachers to be physically comfortable, so the focus can shift completely to learning.”

Wilcox said that improving lighting in 18 elementaries and new offices in six elementary schools will take place during summers of 2018 and 2019, but no decision has been made to the timeline of rebuilding 60-year-old Midvalley Elementary, 53-year-old Peruvian Park Elementary in Sandy and a yet-to-be-determined White City elementary as well as building a new elementary in Draper.

Briscoe said when Canyons District was first established, engineers and others compiled a list of projects needing to be completed. The first bond addressed 13 of those needs and this bond will address additional projects, he said.

“I’m excited for the families and students of Canyons School District,” he said. “I thank our community in making this monumental decision for the future of our students.”