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New Corner Canyon, Olympus and Granger high schools top school construction in 2013

Published: Friday, Jan. 3 2014 11:09 p.m. MST

Crews lower the school's dome onto the building as Canyons School District celebrates a historic milestone in the construction of the new Corner Canyon High School in Draper, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

DRAPER — The opening of Corner Canyon High School in August was heralded by school officials as a historic day for Canyons School District and residents of Draper.

The city's first comprehensive public high school — and the first high school built since Canyons' split from Jordan School District in 2009 — Corner Canyon welcomed its first class of Chargers this fall. Its motto: "semper excelsius," Latin for "always higher."

"The community has been thrilled, absolutely thrilled," Canyons spokesman Jeff Haney said of Corner Canyon's maiden year. "They have a high school of their own."

In addition to Corner Canyon High School, 2013 also saw the opening of new buildings for Granger High School in West Valley City and Olympus High School in Holladay, both part of the Granite School District.

Granite District spokesman Ben Horsley said those openings were culminating projects in the district's construction plans. He said growth in the district has largely stabilized and there are no plans in place for further high school construction.

"At this point in time, we’re not anticipating new buildings without some new growth," Horsley said.

On the west side of Salt Lake County, Jordan School District officials continue to look at strategies for mitigating rapid population growth. The district asked voters for $495 million in bond funding to construct 11 new schools, but the proposal ultimately failed during November's election.

District spokeswoman Sandra Riesgraf said the board has not made a final decision on how to immediately address overcrowding at schools. But board members are considering converting several elementary schools to year-round schedules and various school boundary options to redistribute students.

"We just don’t know right now what direction the board is going to go," she said. "If we do need new buildings, we’re going to need a bond."

In Davis School District, members of the school board have discussed the possibility of a new high school in Farmington, spokesman Chris Williams said, but no formal proposals have been made.

Williams said that Davis School District is projected to experience a slower rate of growth when compared to previous years, and by 2035 the district expects to have roughly 75,000 students, up from 68,000 now.

"We continue to grow," he said. "The future, as far as a (new) high school, would be tied to a bond election."

In Utah County, Alpine School District is growing at a rate of roughly 2,000 students each year, spokesman John Patten said. The district opened a new middle school this year and is in the process of major renovations at American Fork High School, which opened a new wing this fall.

Two new elementary schools will open in Alpine School District in the fall, Patten said, and the district plans to open a new high school in Lehi in 2016.

"Growth is always something that we're managing," Patten said. "We very carefully use student enrollment projection data."

Cache County School District plans to open two new high schools, the first in 2016 and the second in 2017, after voters approved a $129 million bond by a margin of slightly more than 200 votes. A replacement facility for the district's alternative high school is also scheduled for construction.

Dale Hansen, the district's business administrator, said the new schools mark the first time Cache County School District has opened a high school since Mountain Crest's completion in 1983.

"It’s a big task to try and pull off opening two high schools that close together," he said. "It’s going to be major."

In addition to Corner Canyon High School, Canyons School District also completed additions to Brighton and Hillcrest high schools. Those additions were made to address increased enrollment related to the district's decision to move ninth-grade students from middle schools to the district's five high schools.

With those additions, Haney said, the district has the space necessary to address housing for the near future. He said the district's construction priorities for next year are addressing maintenance issues at existing schools, which average 42 year's old.

"What we’re doing right now is we’re going school by school with the money that was given to us so graciously by the public in 2010 and improving schools," Haney said.

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com, Twitter: bjaminwood

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