Wasatch County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. In the six years since the opening of the last new school, the district has grown by more than 1200 students—the equivalent of adding 48 classrooms of 25 students each. The county is expected to continue growing at three percent per year. This means the school district needs to find space for the equivalent of at least 8 new classrooms each year.
To deal with the growth and to delay the need to bond so soon after the high school (2009), the school district added on to existing buildings, increased class sizes, moved grades between schools, changed boundaries, and added portables. One-third of all students at Timpanogos Intermediate School are now in a portable classroom.
These strategies are no longer adequate. Adding classrooms onto existing buildings or adding portables does not address pressure in the common areas—hallways, gyms, and lunch rooms. Behavior problems increase in hallways meant for far fewer students. Rocky Mountain Middle School has to send students outside to form the lunch line. District compliance with required disability access in the common areas is being compromised. The need to bond is now.
Through careful school district planning, two new schools will add capacity at all educational levels—elementary, middle, and high school. Under the plan, building a new elementary school will allow all elementary schools to change from K-4 to K-5 schools. Moving the fifth grades back to the elementary level and building a new middle school will provide for two middle schools of grades 6, 7, and 8. Timpanogos Intermediate School will then be used as an extension of the high school. If this bond passes, the school district will have room for growth for up to ten years, assuming projections remain steady.
Bonding now addresses the room for growth in the most conservative financial manner. Commercial construction costs are rising 5-6 percent per year in Utah. Delaying the bond by just a year could cost Wasatch County tax payers millions of dollars more in construction costs alone. Additionally, interest rates remain at a historic low. If the bond passes, the school district will be able to lock in a rate at the beginning of 2016 while rates are anticipated to remain low. Waiting to bond might also cost tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars in unneeded additional interest costs.
The bond also includes a new aquatic facility that will include two main areas: (1) a competition pool area and (2) an education and community pool area. The competition pool area will replace the inadequate and aged pool at Timpanogos Intermediate School and will serve all the students in the district as well as the award-winning swim teams. The education pool area includes a therapy pool for students with disabilities as well as a community area that will be open to the public during the day as well as after school hours.