DUGWAY, Tooele County — Students living on and around the Dugway Proving Ground will soon receive a new high school thanks to a $13.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.
School officials were made aware of the grant on Wednesday after a two-year application process, Dugway High School Principal Robin Nielson said. The grant will allow for the existing school, built in 1959, to be entirely replaced with a new facility.
"I was very happy," Nielson said of hearing the news. "It will become a center for community activities."
While the specific designs have not yet been finalized, Nielson said the $13 million grant — combined with roughly $2.6 million in matching school district funds — is expected to cover the cost of construction. She also said the district funds will not require a tax increase or take money away from current district construction projects.
A groundbreaking for the new school will take place in the spring, with a planned completion date in time for the fall of 2015, Nielson said.
Dugway High School serves approximately 120 students in grades 7 through 12. District officials said the $15 million price tag for the new building is in line with typical district construction costs.
Nielson said roughly 75 percent of the student body lives on the Dugway Proving Ground — a U.S. Army facility located roughly 80 miles southwest of Salt Lake City — including several children of active military personnel. The remaining students live in the nearby areas of Skull Valley and Terra.
She said the location of the school is convenient for families, whose children would otherwise be required to commute to attend class.
"The school is located within a half-mile of all the housing on Dugway," Nielson said. "The nearest public school is 45 miles away in Tooele."
Col. Ronald Fizer, commander of the Dugway Proving Ground, expressed his appreciation for the school and described the grant as great news.
"The new school at Dugway Proving Ground shows the shared commitment that the Department of Defense and the Tooele County School District have to ensure that our students have the greatest opportunities to receive an outstanding education," Fizer said in a prepared statement. "This new facility will greatly improve the educational opportunities and enhance the learning environment for the students in our community and the surrounding areas."
The federal grant is provided by the Public Schools on Military Installations Program, which gives priority consideration to schools with serious capacity or facility condition deficiencies, according to the Department of Defense.
Tooele School District Superintendent Scott Rogers was unavailable for comment Thursday, but in a prepared statement he said the district plans to hold community meetings for input on the school's design. An architect for the project is expected to be selected during the December meeting of the Tooele School Board.
"To get this grant from the Department of Defense is a huge deal," Rogers said.