Weber School District board meeting

A screenshot of a Weber School District board meeting held July 29, 2020.

Students in the Weber School District will have shorter school days by 45 minutes for at least the first quarter of school. The 45 minutes will come off the end of the day, meaning an earlier release for students.

The shorter school days, a big change to the district’s reopening plan approved Wednesday night by its school board, will be used for teachers to check in on their online students, which means teachers will be expected to shoulder the extra load of teaching in-person and online classes.

Not every day will be shortened by 45 minutes, per the district. The first three days of school are minimum days and not being shortened an extra 45 minutes.

Every Wednesday is an early out day for elementary schools and it’s every other Wednesday for secondary schools. Those days will also be shortened 45 minutes.

The extra 45 minutes will also be used for building sanitation. More schedule adjustments may happen as public health conditions change.

District superintendent Jeff Stephens said he hopes that within the 10-14 days of the start of school, the district will make a “preliminary” announcement about what protocols the district will open with.

The district’s reopening plan has three levels: moderate, enhanced and intense precautions. WSD is currently planning to open with moderate.

A handful of speakers commented about the plan.

Jennifer Graviet, a teacher at Sand Ridge Junior High and the District 4 representative on the Utah State Board of Education, implored the district to delay the opening of school in light of the rising positive COVID-19 case rate in Weber County.

THE BALL IS ROLLING FOR A NEW HIGH SCHOOLIn the next few years, voters in the Weber School District will likely see a bond measure on their ballots for a new high school in Taylor. A start date for construction has not yet been determined.

The board approved Hogan and Associates as the construction manager/general contractor for a future high school, whenever it’s built.

“As you recall back in March, looking forward to the need that we see coming for a new high school in the future, the board made the decision with a lot of foresight to hire an architect to start the design process for a new high school,” district facilities director Scott Zellmer said to the board.

To do this is easily a two-year process, we’re in the middle of that. We’re trying to be ready in the event that a bond will be approved by voters at some point in the future. We’re going to be ready to hit the ground running,” Zellmer continued.

Zellmer told the board that he and the district want to ensure the new high school would be top-of-the-line in many ways.

Stephens did pump the brakes a little bit on the board’s approval.

“Board if I can just say one thing, I want to be very clear that we’re not trying to get ahead of the voters in a bond election. We absolutely understand and respect that before a high school or anything is built this has to go before the voters,” Stephens said.

“What we know is that we haven’t built a high school in nearly 30 years. We have a number of new construction — elementary school and junior high schools — that when we go to the voters and then ask for permission to bond, they can go to one of these model school sites and get a feel of ‘What do we pay for,’ but with a high school having been nearly 30 years since our last high school was built, we felt like, and the feedback that we were receiving, is that voters were saying what would this entail, what would this look like,” Stephens said.

If anything, though, picking Hogan and Associates gives Weber County voters an idea of what to expect with a new high school. Hogan and Associates built the new, flashy $75,755,071 Farmington High School that opened in 2018 on a 46-acre parcel next to Legacy Parkway in Farmington.

The district owns a 52-acre plot of land in Taylor at 2200 S 4300 W, per a district spokesperson, for a new high school that would theoretically split up Roy and Fremont High and likely involve a boundary adjustment with Weber High as well.

Fremont, which was built in the early 1990’s, had 2,020 students in grades 10-12 and Roy had 1,834 according to state enrollment numbers from Oct. 1, 2019. The district recently added a new classroom wing at Fremont to deal with overcrowding there.

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickcarr17/.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!