Big changes for Helper Junior High are being contemplated by the Carbon County School Board. The current building was built in the 1930’s and while it possesses no current threat, the board feels it is time to start making plans to move on.
These plans will not be put into action for three to four years, but the school board is getting an early start to ensure the junior high is everything and more for the youth of Helper City.
A public meeting was held Thursday, to notify the community why the Board believes an upgrade is needed as soon as possible.
Right now, the school is receiving a fund from the Necessarily Existent Small Schools fund each year in the amount of $369,500, when it costs almost $1,274,054 to run the school. The purpose of NESS is to help schools in remote locations thrive and remain a part of the community. Because the current Helper Junior High building no longer complies with parameters outlined to receive these funds, a new building may be the only option.
The Board is looking at a new location they feel would better accommodate the space of the Junior High and help minimize traffic congestion.
The board also feels that each grade level should be separated, rather than six grade classmates mingling with ninth grade classmates in the halls. TheyвЂ™ve seen this done successfully in other schools and want to provide the same segregation. An exact square footage has not yet been decided, but the school must be large enough to house over 300 students.
The new project would cost an estimated nine million dollars. If district debt is paid in full in the next few years, which it is expected to be, then there will be funds available for the construction of the new Helper Junior High building.В The construction of this new building would require significant investment of capital funds and leave the district with a $370 thousand dollar shortfall in operating revenue.
вЂњThis building has served its useful life and I donвЂ™t think its suitable to be teaching our kids in,вЂќ said Dean Armstrong, Mayor of Helper, who is supporting the school board with their decision to move the junior high.
Those who were in opposition feared their children would be transported to Price to attend Mont Harmon, or worried what the vacant building would be used for.
вЂњWe are not even contemplating shutting down school,вЂќ said Wayne Woodward, President of the Carbon County School Board.вЂќ We simply want to create a better and more safe learning environment for the students of Helper Junior High.” More public hearings are planned for the future as the Board continues to consider a new building.