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Provo District lacks funds to fix schools

Some members of the Salt Lake City School Board are drawing criticism after being caught sending vulgar and inappropriate messages to one another. (Photo: John Wojcik, KSL NewsRadio)

PROVO, Utah — The Provo City School District currently has about $10.5 million in funds available to address repair needs at three schools. Taken on its own, that seems like a hefty chunk of change. Unfortunately, there’s close to $77 million in needs at Timpview High School, Dixon Middle School and Wasatch Elementary School. Simply put, the Provo School District doesn’t have enough money right now to fix Provo schools.

Pushing it down the road

That figure is taken from a January 28 board of education meeting. The district’s director of facilities, Mark Wheeler, explained the urgency of their problems.

“If we keep pushing this stuff down the road, it’s irresponsible,” he says.

He’s more than likely referencing a $245 million bond that was proposed last year, but failed in November.

The Daily Herald reports a majority of the bond money, around $145 million, would have gone towards rebuilding Timpview High School. Officials say the building is deteriorating, because of rough winters that have caused the soil underneath to shift.

A draft report last month showed the building had settled up to 5.5 inches. For context, most modern buildings are designed to handle about one-and-a-half inches of settlement.

$55 million of the bond money would have gone towards relocating and rebuilding Dixon Middle School, while $30 million was intended for the rebuild of Wasatch Elementary School.

The remaining $15 million was to be divvied up between an addition at Westridge Elementary School and for security upgrades.

Identifying another option

Wheeler says the various projects have been simply put-off, because it was long assumed the schools would all be rebuilt.

“We shouldn’t be talking about Dixon and Wasatch,” he explains. “Those two schools should have been rebuilt 20 years ago.”

Of course, leaders say there’s a “Plan B” if they can’t fix Provo schools.

The board may still choose to vote to close Timpview High School. One option would be to bring students to Provo High School, but that would require overlapping student schedules. Additionally, it creates a possible bussing problem.

“The transportation alone would be a logistical nightmare,” says the district’s business administrator, Stefanie Bryant.