Provo neighborhoods rally to keep Dixon Middle at current location 05

Dixon Middle School is pictured on Friday, March 22, 2019, in Provo.

The Dixon Middle School building could house community organizations if the school is moved, the Provo City School District announced Wednesday morning.

The district is in serious discussions with the United Way of Utah County and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Utah County to expand their facilities to the school building if the district’s proposed $245 million bond passes in November, according to the announcement.

“This is an option that allows the building to remain there and have a presence with community partners,” said Caleb Price, a spokesman for the Provo City School District.

The district’s proposed bond would include funding for a rebuild of Timpview High School, a rebuild of Dixon Middle school, a rebuild of Wasatch Elementary School, an addition at Westridge Elementary School and security upgrades at schools.

The bond would include relocating Dixon Middle School to the district’s west side, potentially to the area near 890 South near Footprinter Park, where the district owns about 20 acres.

The current Dixon Middle School was first occupied in 1931 and has seen multiple additions built onto it since. It sits on about 8 acres of land, about half the size of modern school sites.

Price said the district has been discussing ways to utilize the building if the bond passes. The district reached out to community partners, and is optimistic about the possibilities.

“These two organizations have been longtime partners with the Provo City School District on a variety of efforts for many years,” the district’s announcement reads.

Details on the renovations, timelines and leasing haven’t been discussed. The district hopes community partners will contribute to the costs of needed renovations.

The district has received confidential offers from local donors for the project.

“This permits us to retain at least a portion of the existing building, since some in the neighborhood have expressed support for keeping it,” the announcement reads. “The school district retains possession of the building and property, as the board has stated is a priority.”

The United Way of Utah County has let Utah County’s cities and school districts know that it’s interested in available space.

“Our barrier of expansion is resources,” said Bill Hulterstrom, the president and CEO of the United Way of Utah County.

Hulterstrom said the organization has a successful program in the south Franklin Neighborhood that houses arts and tutoring programs.

Moving into the Dixon Middle School building would expand those activities.

“The south Franklin community is where we have a concentration of needs, and had frankly remarkable success when neighbors get to know each other,” Hulterstrom said.

The potential move could triple the capacity of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Utah County’s programs, according to David Bayles, the organization’s executive director.

Bayles said the organization had to turn away about 200 children who wanted to attend summer programs this year. Most of those live in the Provo area.

“It is appealing to have a location centered around where the kids come from,” Bayles said.

The announcement isn’t enough to convince a community group that moving Dixon Middle School is the best decision.

The No On Provo School Bond PIC, formerly the Save Dixon PIC, wrote in a statement that the district’s announcement assumes that future school boards will commit money to assure the Dixon Middle School is in a usable condition.

“School districts do not usually allocate these levels of funding to community centers because they move resources out of our schools,” the statement reads. “There are already disagreements among board members of how much we should be spending on peripheral programs, and that attitude will only increase as Provo citizens see taxes skyrocket over the next few years. The only way to ensure that children and residents have access to these valuable community programs is to vote no on this bond, and demand a new bond that maintains Dixon as a school.”

The group says there are unaccounted costs for relocating the school to the west side.

“We have always maintained that moving the middle school to a new site will end up costing taxpayers substantially more than rebuilding onsite,” the statement reads. “The lack of planning for (the) current Dixon location is just one of many reasons why so many citizens have joined us in opposing this bond. The statement is meant to placate voters without providing any real solutions for the future.”

Braley Dodson covers health and education for the Daily Herald.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!