Provo Board of Education votes 4-3 to move Dixon Middle School to new location
The grand dame of schools in the Provo City School District met her match Tuesday when the Board of Education voted 4-3 to build a new middle school at Footprinter Park.
Dixon Middle School is a 90 year old structure at 750 W. 200 North in Provo. It has been an integral part of the downtown neighborhoods over the decades. With Tuesday’s vote, the current school will close and a new one built.
Numerous residents rose to defend the school by asking that a new school be built at the same location where Dixon stands, rather than the newly selected plot at Footprinter Park located at 1150 S. 1350 West.
The school’s designs indicate the new school at Footprinter will be one story with three times more available ground space. The current site of Dixon does not have much ground to enlarge the school and would have expanded to four stories.
The discussion regarding the future of Dixon is older than any of the 986 students attending the seventh and eighth grade classes. Two bonds have come and gone without Dixon getting its turn.
Much of the public comment period was spent defending, and speaking on behalf of, those who weren’t in attendance. The neighborhood is in a lower-income area that has great diversity in culture and educational background.
“I attended Dixon. None of us are here to destroy the neighborhoods,” said resident Kimberly Lamb. “We need to think what’s best for the entire city, not one small neighborhood.”
Another resident said she was there to represent the poorer community. “It’s an uphill battle with lots of hurdles,” she said. “We don’t need another hurdle by moving the school. We want to be up with you and moving Dixon makes it harder.”
David Harding, a member of the Provo Municipal Council, spoke briefly on the need to have a family friendly infrastructure in the core of the city and how Dixon is part of that. He said to keep Dixon where it’s at.
Resident Austin Taylor claimed the majority of people want to see Dixon rebuilt on-site. He added that the Dixon neighborhood has an average yearly income of $36,000 and the Footprinter neighborhood has an average yearly income of $58,000.
Taylor asked the school board, of those two neighborhoods, which one needs Dixon more?
Some residents believe there is justification in looking at rebuilding Dixon and building a third middle school of about the same size. They believe the need is already in Provo for a third school.
A number of former Dixon PTA presidents, students and teachers rose in favor of keeping the historic building — at least if the district was not going to keep the school there, which remained their preferred outcome.
If Facebook posts are an indication, it appears many residents are not happy with the Tuesday vote and will begin a petition that, if enough valid signatures are acquired, would put the subject on the November 2022 ballot.
Benjamin Ellis, the Dixon Neighborhood Chairman, posted this on the Dixon Facebook Page:
“Neighbors, I’m sad to report that the school board has gone against the bond vote, against the majority of opinions, against data, logic, emotional appeals by those whom will be affected the most, and decided to vote to move Dixon Middle School out of our neighborhood.”
“The arguments ranged from ‘A mega school will be better educationally for our students’ to nebulous threats that 20 years down the road Timpanogos Elementary will be shut down because a middle school doesn’t attract density (and all of the housing being built around it right now is suddenly going to go away?),” Ellis added.
“But I have some good news. The board KNOWS that we will launch a campaign to fight this decision – they hoped we would be swayed by their arguments, but we are not. Dixon belongs in Dixon,” he said.
“We will need to gather about 4000 signatures to give the community a vote on the decision of where to build the new middle school,” Ellis said. “This is where WE, the Dixon Neighborhood, can shine.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story gave an inaccurate description for the number of stories at the current Dixon school site as well as the number of floors planned for a new school to be constructed.