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

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● Published by Julie Slama

In 2013, Corner Canyon High School cheerleaders led the gathered crowd in a cheer before the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open their new school. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

On August 13, 2013, hundreds of citizens gathered for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at Corner Canyon High, the first public high school in Draper. Construction began in 2011, less than one year after voters approved a $250 million bond to renovate, build or rebuild schools in the newly formed Canyons School District. 

Now, four years after students first enrolled in the school, voters approved a $283 million tax-neutral bond to modernize and upgrade Canyons School District schools, including extending two classroom wings on Corner Canyon High School.

“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 $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, said Canyons School District Business Administrator Leon Wilcox.

“They will be typical classrooms for math, English language arts, social studies,” he said. “We’ll work on them during the summer of 2018 and 2019 and by then, they will be substantially done.”

As the work will be mostly done over the summer, there will be little disruption to students, Wilcox said. 

“When we built Corner Canyon, it was for a specific number of students, but it’s not big enough now,” he said, adding that student enrollment has increased with boundary changes and students coming from local charter schools. “Included in the initial plans were ways the school could be expanded.”

Preliminary renderings by Curtis Miner Architecture, who designed the school, are already in place, as are some for the other three high schools — Alta, Brighton and Hillcrest — that 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.

Alta High in Sandy also has conceptual renderings of the third phase of its remodel of the 1978 building, said Principal Brian McGill, who said that much of this estimated $38.5 project will focus on a new auditorium and performing arts areas as well as athletic updates.

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

“We want to hold town hall meetings and hear what all our stakeholders have to say,” he said. He has already talked with a group of 30 students, the school community council and Parent-Teacher-Student Association about the bond prior to it passing with 57 percent of the vote.

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, 49-year-old Union Middle School and a yet-to-be-determined White City elementary as well as building a new elementary in Draper.

Briscoe said that 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.” 

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