T.O. Smith Elementary selected as 2nd Ogden school to be rebuilt if bond passes

Friday , September 08, 2017 - 3:52 PM1 comment

ANNA BURLESON, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — The Ogden School District Board of Education has approved rebuilding T.O. Smith Elementary School, should voters approve a $106.5 million bond initiative in November.

T.O. Smith has been selected, along with Horace Mann Elementary School, but the location of a third planned rebuild is still under consideration.

Principal Terry Humphreys said she is thrilled by the prospect of having enough room to house students comfortably and expand the library, gym and cafeteria.

“We’re very excited there’s a possibility our students would have a new building to go to school in,” she said. “They definitely deserve it.”

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District spokesman Jer Bates said T.O. Smith was chosen based on the condition of the building and the board’s desire to rebuild one school to the north, one in the east-central part of the district and one — T.O. Smith — to the south.

“This falls in line with the original vision for the bond,” he said.

For the third school rebuild, the board is considering Polk Elementary School but has not officially approved it yet. Bates said students from Taylor Canyon Elementary School could potentially be sent there, eventually resulting in its closure.

Bates said the consolidation of those two schools makes sense because both have small enrollments. According to district data, Polk has a projected enrollment for this school year of 306 and Taylor Canyon has 403.

It’s still unclear which schools might close in relation to the rebuild of Horace Mann and T.O. Smith because Bates said some nearby schools are equally as large and combining the two into one building wouldn’t work.

For example, this year’s projected enrollment at T.O. Smith is 493 students. Bates said they wouldn’t fit in one building with the neighboring school, James Madison Elementary School, which has a projected enrollment of 500.

Bates said if the bond passes, Horace Mann and T.O. Smith are being considered for open enrollment after they’re rebuilt, which means they would be open to any student no matter his or her address. Boundary adjustments could also be on the horizon for the three rebuilt schools and any neighboring schools.

Bates said a boundary study would include community involvement.

By law, bond funds can only be used on construction projects. The district is proposing putting the money into rebuilding three elementary schools, adding Professional Gateway Centers to junior high schools and rebuilding the Ben Lomond High School gymnasium.

T.O. Smith was built in 1956 and is in need of $1.5 million in baseline repairs based on figures from a 2016 facilities condition report. Polk Elementary was built in 1926 and is in need of $2.9 million in baseline repairs.

The rebuilt schools would house up to 800 students, but parents and community members have expressed concern, hoping to keep the schools smaller at bond initiative town hall meetings.

After the board approved the proposed T.O. Smith rebuild at a meeting Thursday, Sept. 7, President Jeff Heiner said it’s important to seek community feedback and prioritize student safety.

“We need to be mindful of what will give our students the best opportunity for success,” he said. “If the bond is voted down, we all lose, regardless of whether a new school is built in their area or not.”

More bond open houses for the public will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 13 at T.O. Smith and at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at Polk. Detailed bond information is available online at ogdensdbond.org.

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at aburleson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/BurlesonReports. 

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