Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Design work to begin on high school expansion

Uintah High School could be getting something of a facelift in the next year.

In a memo to Uintah School District board members, Randall Upton, business administrator for the district said to refine costs and determine exactly how the facility will look; the district needs to begin to move to the design phase. The broad plan calls for a 16-room addition to the high school to be in place by the start of the 2013 school year.

The district voted to allow the administration and MHTN, a Salt Lake City architecture firm, begin the design phase of the project. Upton noted that the beginning of the design phase does not commit the board to building the project – such approvals would come at a later date, he said.

MHTN architects would be working on a tight time frame. The district hopes to have the new wing at the high school ready for occupancy by August 2013. That would mean construction would need to start sometime in February, Upton said. Drawings need to be done by then to begin work.

Board members and students questioned the impact to students at the school while construction is ongoing. Upton said the project could be worked around to minimize impact to students.

Upton said the anticipated cost would be around $25 to $26 million. The numbers would be refined further as design work progresses.

The high school is the next targeted for expansion or renovation as the Uintah School District tries to keep pace with growing enrollment numbers. For 2011, Uintah School District was the fastest-growing district in the state, up 4.6 percent.

The school district is near completion of its 10-year project to remodel and expand all area elementary schools, Vernal Middle School and Uintah High School. Vernal Junior High School was remodeled before the 10-year plan was outlined seven years ago.

The addition of the wing at the high school is meant to accommodate a reconfiguration of the district, to try and ease crowding at the middle, junior and high schools. Elementary schools should be kept for kindergarten-through-fifth graders, while sixth, seventh and eighth grades would be split between the middle and junior high school. Ninth graders would go to the high school.

The option was seen as more immediate and cost-effective than the construction of another high school, which would require a bond election. The cost would be estimated at $50 to $60 million for construction, not counting the ongoing operation costs, Superintendent Mark Dockins told district members in March. Vernal Express