Timpview High School will be fully rebuilt and Dixon Middle School will move to the Provo City School District’s west side if voters approve a proposed $245 million bond in November.
The Provo City School District Board of Education unanimously voted Tuesday to place a $145 million rebuild of Timpview High School, save for the Thunderdome, which already sits on piers, a $55 million relocation and rebuild of Dixon Middle School, a $30 million rebuild of Wasatch Elementary School, $10 million for an addition at Westridge Elementary School and $5 million for security upgrades on the November ballot for Provo voters.
During a study session prior to the meeting where they voted on bond priorities, school board members voiced concerns that putting the more pricey option of a full rebuild of Timpview High School was a gamble over putting a $65 million or $93.4 million first phase of a rebuild because the higher overall price might cause the bond to not pass.
“That is the hard thing to do, but it is the lowest cost,” said McKay Jensen, a member of the school board.
Rebuilding the school in one project instead of multiple phases is expected to reduce the amount of disruption caused by construction to the school and its community.
Despite the risk, board members said it is the better financial design for the district as opposed to $200 million that could be spent on the school over multiple phases of a rebuild project.
“Financially, I can’t go with the partial rebuild because it would cost the taxpayer so much more in the end,” said Nate Bryson, a member of the board.
The vote came following more than a year of study into a potential bond and was spurred by deteriorating conditions at Timpview High School.
The school has been deemed as not being seismically safe and came to the district’s attention after a harsh winter two years ago caused the soil underneath part of the school to settle and a piece of masonry to fall through the media center’s ceiling tiles. Cracks have also appeared in the school’s walls as recently as within the last two months.
Bryson said a bond survey conducted by the district showed that 69% of those who live in the Timpview High School area were in support of a full rebuild.
He said the same survey showed that 53% of the people who live within the Dixon Middle School boundary wanted the school to move.
Bryson said moving Dixon Middle School to Provo’s west side would provide space for future growth and would be safer for students during construction.
“I think that moving the school is the best option,” Bryson said.
Dixon Middle School was first occupied in 1931 and has seen multiple additions built onto it since. The school sits on about 8 acres of land, about half the size of current school sites. A potential rebuild and relocation of the school was considered for the district’s last bond, but the project was bumped in favor of rebuilding Provo High School.
The Board of Education was faced with rebuilding the school at its current site, renovating the 1931 part of the building and constructing a 130,000-square-foot new school for $65 million, and a second option that would build a 150,000-square-foot new school on a new site for $55 million.
The school could be relocated to the area of 890 South near Footprinter Park, where the district owns about 20 acres.
Community members have argued that moving the school would make walking to school less safe and harder on students and families, and that losing the school would impact the surrounding neighborhoods’ sense of community. Residents in neighborhood surrounding Dixon Middle School have also said they’d oppose a bond if the school was proposed to be moved.
An online petition to keep Dixon Middle School at its current location had gathered more than 840 signatures online, as of Tuesday evening. A website, http://savedixonmiddle.home.blog, was also created outlining arguments to keep the school where it is at.
Board members said that the decision to move the school was not easy, but that moving it would place it closer to more students.
“I feel like we should move the school,” said Rebecca Nielsen, a member of the school board. “I feel the evidence is there. I feel we can’t favor one neighborhood over all the other neighborhoods that are going to gain from having a middle school.”
She voiced support for keeping the site and using it to potentially rebuild Timpanogos Elementary School on the site or to hold adult education classes there.
“I am firmly committed to repurposing that site,” Nielsen said. “I am not interested in selling it.”
Members of the Dixon Middle School community spoke out in favor of keeping the school on site and moving it during the Tuesday meeting.
Christy Giblon, a teacher at Dixon Middle School, said the school is not built appropriately and does not fit well on its site.
“I have spent these 12 years teaching in a music facility that is woefully inadequate,” she said.
Jamie Littlefield, who lives in the area around Dixon Middle School, urged the board to keep the school at its current location. Littlefield said the school is about more than how many acres it sits on.
“Families choose to live nearby so they could support their local schools knowing that their kids could walk,” she said.
Depending on which projects ended up on the proposed bond, the district had previously presented information stating that a bond costing between $255 million and $165 million would lead to a projected yearly tax increase of between $90 and $147 over the course of three years on a $100,000 home.