Donna Hogge has spent a total of 37 years at T.O. Smith Elementary School on Gramercy Avenue in Ogden — first as a student, then as a student-teacher and now as a third grade teacher. On Monday, she said goodbye to the building she spent more than half of her life learning and teaching at as she helped break ground for a new school.
“I’ve been asked many times, ‘Don’t you want to have a brand new school?’ Well, no, not really,” Hogge said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “I even have to admit, this vintage building needs to be put to rest.”
The replacement of the school built in 1955 is the final project included in an $87 million bond to replace and renovate buildings in the Ogden School District approved by voters in 2018. The initial bond resolution estimated the cost of the project to be $25 million dollars, but a soft cost estimate presented to the district’s board of education on Sept. 3 figured at $25,591,349.
Although the extra half million will likely come from taxpayers’ pockets, speakers at the event said the new building was a needed boost for the low-income school, which has been designated Title I by the U.S. Department of Education. A school’s Title I categorization is based primarily on its concentration of students who are living below the U.S. Census poverty level.
“We need to commit to the future generation, and that’s where we have before us — an opportunity to build a wonderful new school here that will stand in this community as a fixture for decades to come,” said Superintendent Rich Nye.
While they await the construction of their new school, T.O. Smith students have been attending class at the once-shuttered Gramercy Elementary School, built in 1953. Although the building — which had previously been used for police training and a parent-student reunification site for Mound Fort Junior High School — received some updates in preparation for the T.O. Smith Tigers, students are anxious to get into their new building.
“I don’t really like it,” sixth grader Roberto Candido Jr. said of Gramercy. Even though he won’t be attending school at the new building next year, Candido attended the groundbreaking with his mom, who is a secretary at the school. “To be honest, I’m pretty jealous,” he said.
Eli Garcia, a first grader who was also at the groundbreaking, said he was sad his first school is being taken down, but he is most excited about what the new school will look like.
Construction on the new building is expected to be finished in 2022.
In the meantime, T.O. Smith Elementary will continue operations from the Gramercy building on 12th Street.
“No matter what building we are in, it’s the people who make T.O. Smith what it is and will carry on its legacy,” Hogge said.