Ogden school bond initiative will keep small student/teacher ratios

Friday , October 13, 2017 - 4:00 AM1 comment

JEFFREY HEINER, special to the Standard-Examiner

The Ogden School District Board of Education has solidified its proposal for the $106.5 million bond initiative. The bond will not increase the school tax rate.

As proposed, the bond will pay for replacement of the Ben Lomond High School gymnasium, professional gateway centers at Highland and Mount Ogden junior high schools (a third will be built at Mound Fort Junior High using existing capital funds), and the replacement of three elementary schools: Horace Mann, T.O. Smith, and Polk.

This bond is considered phase two of four. Phase one addressed needs at Ogden and Ben Lomond high schools and renovations to each junior high school. Odyssey, Heritage, and Shadow Valley elementary schools were also built with previous bond funds. Additional renovation projects have been completed at Ogden High that would not have been possible without substantial financial help from generous community donors.

The board also recognizes the support of the community in creating the Spence Eccles Soccer Complex and the renovation of both high school swimming pools. Most recently, New Bridge School was built and the tracks and fields were replaced at both Ogden and Ben Lomond, using district capital funds.

During phase one, the Ben Lomond gym was not addressed. The Board of Education is committed to finish what was started and complete the BLHS gymnasium with this bond. It is proposed to rebuild the BLHS varsity gym and practice gym, and add an additional practice gym with an indoor track to provide greater opportunity for school and community use. The rebuild will also improve the softball field and provide additional tennis courts.

The PGCs at the junior highs will provide unique curriculum which will help students develop practical skills in areas ranging from liberal arts to next-generation technology. The PGCs will engage all students allowing them to become future innovators, educators, researchers, and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges. The centers will house career and technical education, engineering, computer science, and health science workplaces, industry and community collaboration spaces, prototyping and research spaces, and academic work spaces.

The new Horace Mann, T.O. Smith, and Polk elementary schools are proposed to have four classes per grade level (four sections). Nearly all of our older elementary schools were designed as three-section schools. A four-section school would mean adding seven classrooms (kindergarten through sixth grade) in most cases and portables would be removed. Four-section schools are designed to keep our small student-to-teacher ratios and would give the district greater flexibility to work toward reducing class size. These new buildings will provide students learning experiences not possible in older schools and in a far safer setting.

Phases three and four will address the junior highs and the remaining older schools. The 2017 bond will do the most good for the most students possible. If the bond fails, all students in Ogden stand to miss out.

To learn more, please attend one of the remaining open houses. The open house schedule is found at www.ogdensdbond.org.

Jeffrey Heiner is president of the Ogden School Board. Email: heinerj@ogdensd.org. The seven-member board also consists of Jennifer Zundel, Don Belnap, Doug Barker, Nancy Blair, Susan Richards and Joyce Willson.

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