Rapid growth in the Tooele School District will require 250 students to change elementary schools next year and the district to raise a recommended $21 million for a new middle school and other building upgrades.
The Tooele Board of Education last week approved altering five elementary school boundaries, expected to leave elementary schools at 80 percent and 90 percent of enrollment capacity.A board-appointed citizens committee recommended the district find $8 million for a new middle school, $8.8 million to remodel Tooele High School, $2 million for a second gym and eight classrooms at Tooele Junior High, $1 million for 10 classrooms at Grantsville High, $1 million for four classrooms and a commons area at Grantsville Middle School and $50,000 for minor Ibapha Elementary upgrades.
Such projects would require bonding, said Richard Tolley, district business administrator. While no decisions have been made, the school board is leaning toward a November bond election of $20 million to $25 million for buildings and to upgrade technology, Tolley said.
A $45 million bond proposal failed last November. The citizens committee, formed in January, recommends giving a new middle school priority and looking at the high school down the road, rather than vice-versa, Tolley said.
Tooele schools are bursting at the seams. Tooele Junior High enrolls 825 students in a building built for 650, while Tooele High teaches 1,600 students in a school built for 1,200. Even more students are expected next year.
Help is on the way. East and Stansbury elementary schools will open 10-classroom additions this fall. But growth in East neighborhoods is less than that near Harris Elementary.
Under the boundary changes, Harris Elementary students living in east Tooele and Stockton children attending West Elementary will attend East Elementary next fall.
"Anytime you make changes with boundaries, it is emotional," Tolley said. "Not everyone liked what we did, but they understood it had to be done."
Northlake and Stansbury elementary boundaries will be split on an east-west configuration, rather than using U-36 as a boundary.
While that will only slightly shuffle Erda schoolchildren, who currently choose between the two schools, the change is expected to halve the four crisscrossing bus routes serving the area and save the district up to $32,000 annually, Tolley said.
The two Ophir area children attending West Elementary and the more than 30 Rush Valley students attending Northlake Elementary will not have to change schools - yet.
"But as Northlake fills up from growth on the north side of town, we'll probably have to move the Rush Valley students within a few years," Tolley said.
The school board last month postponed voting on proposed boundary changes to allow for public meetings in Rush Valley and Erda.
The school board in February voted to bus 125 Tooele Junior High seventh- and eighth-graders living in Stansbury and Lake Point to Grantsville Middle School. Tooele High boundaries are not expected to change.