SPRINGVILLE -- Excavation equipment will be arriving in the next few days to begin work at the site for the new junior high school in Springville. Although there will be no official groundbreaking, work will begin this month with an expected completion date of June 2014. The site is on the east side of the city in the area between 1470 East and 1700 East and 50 South and 400 South.
"We have been told to be ready to take possession of the building June 14 of 2014," Ken Van Ausdal, principal at Springville Junior High School, said. "The building will then be made ready for students in August. Since the design is basically the same as Mapleton Junior High and the new Salem Junior High, there are considerable savings, not only in funds but in time."
The old junior high was dedicated in 1957 and has had a few additions and upgrades, but now needs to be replaced.
"This building has served our community well and many people received a good education here," Van Ausdal continued. "We are at capacity with 945 students. We are using every available room and as our numbers are increasing we need to find more space. Also, this building was not designed for 21st century technology and we need to be able to make that technology available to our students."
As it became obvious something needed to be done to solve the overcrowding and aging facility problem, Van Ausdal and Nebo School District officials looked at their options.
"When it got to the point that the space wasn't adequate we tried to find ways to accommodate growth. Maybe we could take out the field on the east side, but then where would our PE classes go? We could bring in portables, but where would we put them? We already do not have a parking lot available so we were very limited on what could be done at this site," Van Ausdal said.
John Taylor, the chairman of the parent committee, came to the same conclusion after his research.
"Honestly, my first thoughts were to try and keep the original location for a new junior high," Taylor said. "I was asked to be on the committee because I serve on the school community council. I pushed hard to see if the city-owned park between Grant School and SJHS could be included in a plan where we would close the street and have that area for a new school. The park was donated and couldn't be used. We also looked at building a two-story school but finally realized we needed a new location."
"Our committee then went out and looked at the sites in the west fields area where the district owns land. After analyzing building cost, busing cost and safety concerns we finally chose the location on the east side of Springville. The choice had unanimous support from parents and the school board after we presented our findings."
The committee worked for several months, gathering data on the student population and predicted numbers in the city. They looked at the numbers of elementary school children and where they resided. They also looked at routes children would travel to school and which location would be the most economical.
"We were surprised to see that most of our elementary students, more than 1,000 of them, lived on the east side of the railroad tracks. Building the school on the west side would have also have required students outside the two-mile busing radius to walk across railroad tracks and very busy roads like 400 South and the road which runs beside Walmart," Taylor said. "This would affect most of the children living on the west side. Ten to 15 buses would have to be purchased for those students who could be bused and then the expenses for running them daily."
Taylor said that another school may have to be built on the west side several years from now, but the chosen site is a better use of funds and better for students who will attend during the next 10 or 15 years.
"Who knows what we will need in the future -- that's crystal ball planning," Taylor said. "I feel strongly that we did due diligence for the school we need now. It was frustrating for the district to purchase land but our community will be getting an excellent, beautiful new junior high in the right location. It all came together and we were very lucky."
City administrator Troy Fitzgerald is looking forward to work starting at the site. He also clarified the access road in answer to questions from residents at a city council meeting in December.
"The junior high site plan received approval from the Springville City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012," Fitzgerald said. "The primary access route will be 1470 East between Center Street and 400 South. Springville City is excited to have a modern, well-designed secondary school built in our community. We have been pleased with the coordination between the Nebo School District and Springville City as we worked to making the school and site as safe and functional as possible."
Van Ausdal believes a new school building will have a positive influence on the community, the teachers and the students.
"We're looking forward to having a new building we can all be proud of where our teachers and students will continue to build a culture of learning," he said. "Our teachers will be ready and we will make this move to a new school a positive experience for everyone."