Back in the days (and they weren’t that long ago) when Payson was booming, and we anticipated modest school enrollment growth and funding for schools was not in question; including artificial turf fields for the high school was an “extra” for our kids that the district and community could easily justify. Things changed however, and I commend our governing board for having the foresight and fortitude to make the right call last week, given the economic truths of today.
The reality is that with significant cuts from the state in our funding for capital projects (regular facility maintenance, upgrades and school buses) we need to reserve the nearly $2 million in bond funds that could have gone into fields for the more mundane projects at the high school like roof replacements, HVAC, repair of buildings, the opportunity to remodel a couple of science labs and also to be able to get our kids to and from school in safe and reliable buses. This was the right, but certainly not easy, decision to make.
It will be many years before we have the bonding capacity available to replace Payson High School and with funding from the state problematic, it is our district’s responsibility to ensure that our primary instructional facilities are sound and fully serviceable. As for our current fields, I can assure the community that our maintenance crew will continue to do the same great job they have been in maintaining them.
The new Julia Randall Elementary opens for business on Monday and it is a beautiful facility. There will still be plenty of construction work taking place on the outside, as the former school is removed and new parking lots and entry/egress lanes are created. Some have asked about salvaging materials. The district has done a fair amount of internal recycling and we have also donated some surplus furniture to the Christian school. Items too old or impractical to remove are considered into the contract awarded to the company completing the demolition.
We’ll also begin the remodel of the Rock Building next week. This will take three to four months to complete. The remaining bond projects at the other sites are either completed, or will be by the start of next school year. When all is said and done, I hope you agree that the district has made excellent use of your tax dollars in providing for quality facilities that will serve our current and future students.