Wasatch County School District Launches Future Schools Project
Wasatch County School District Launches Future Schools Project Salt Lake City-Based GSBS to Help Lead Facilities Master Planning Process
HEBER CITY, UTAH – To address the exponential growth facing its schools while providing its students with the best educational outcomes possible, Wasatch County School District (WCSD) has launched the yearlong Future Schools Project (FSP), a master planning initiative designed to help define the direction the District will take over the next 10-to-20 years.
The FSP will provide opportunities for District personnel, elected officials, local leaders, parents, and the greater Wasatch County community to participate in the master planning process through stakeholder committees, surveys, and community events, including open houses, and school listening tours.
To help facilitate the process, WCSD Board of Education contracted with Salt Lake City-based GSBS Architects during its Aug. 19, 2021, meeting. GSBS will also assist in developing a 10-to-20-year Master Facilities Plan to evaluate the condition and future uses of the District’s current buildings, identify immediate needs, and propose a long-term plan for future schools in Wasatch County based on demographic projections and educational goals.
“In 2019, when we went out to bond and were unsuccessful, we knew we had to do a better job communicating with our public and getting their feedback as it relates to growth and building new buildings,” explained Superintendent Paul Sweat. “We know that we have to build a broader coalition that will solicit input from all community stakeholders to ensure each resident of Wasatch County that we’re doing the proper planning to provide more space for our students.”
Currently, there are 2,519 students at Wasatch High School, a 24-percent increase from 2,025 students five years ago, with this year’s Freshman class (the WHS Class of 2025) comprised of a record 666 students. The most recent U.S. Census placed Wasatch County as the third fastest-growing county in the country, based on percentage increase in population, while The New York Times reported in April of 2021 that Heber City ranks fifth in the nation for the biggest change in net in-migration out of 926 metro areas across the country.
This past spring, the District issued a Request for Proposal (RFP), with respondent firms evaluated by a District facilities committee that included staff and board members. The top two candidates were identified and interviewed by the Board of Education, with GSBS selected after further vetting, which included subsequent meetings to ensure the firm was one the Board was confident could accomplish the critically important task of creating a Master Facilities Plan to serve the District and its students for years to come.
GSBS’ planning projects include Park City School District’s “The Future of Learning” Education Master Plan, Salt Lake City’s Regent Street Redevelopment, Lehi City’s Facilities Masterplan, and the Summit County Facilities Master Plan.
“I feel 100-percent comfortable in moving forward with this,” Board Member Kimberly Dickerson said of contracting with GSBS. “This is definitely feedback I received from the community, to have some kind of plan, and I believe that GSBS will help us move forward with a good plan.”
Board Member Marianne B. Allen noted, “We’re once again one of the fastest-growing counties, and everyone knows that. This is going to help us plan for that … It’s a third party, they’re coming in fresh, and they can look at it with new eyes and tell us what we have and what we could have, and that’s what we need.”
As part of the FSP launch, a community survey and informational website will roll out next month, with all work culminating in a presentation of the Master Plan to the Board of Education in early summer 2022 for their consideration and future implementation.
For more information or interview opportunities, please contact Kirsta Albert, WCSD Public Information Officer, at 435-640-1638 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About GSBS GSBS provides architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, sustainability consulting, economic consulting, planning services and experiential design through offices in Salt Lake City, Utah and Fort Worth, Texas. During the last 40 years, the firm has completed hundreds of projects of various project types including recreation, commercial, academic, government, justice, hospitality, and healthcare.