school construction

Workers build an extension onto Green Canyon High School on Monday afternoon.

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The Cache County School District has been growing steadily over the last decade, putting enrollment at approximately 20,000 students this year. Some schools in the district are over capacity, while others are quickly reaching the maximum.

“We’ve been experiencing significant growth for some time,” said Tim Smith, CCSD’s public information officer. “We’ve grown over 700 in this last year alone, which is about the size of a large elementary school.”

The 2021-2022 school year saw an increase of 718 enrollments, compared to 27 during 2020-2021 and 537 during the 2019-2020 school year. This is total enrollment from grades K-12.

Of course, the students are spread out across the many schools in the district, but Smith still calls it a significant number. CCSD is the 11th fastest-growing school district in the state of Utah, according to both Smith and the school marketing website Number one is the Alpine School District, with roughly 84,000 students enrolled.

The latest capacity report was presented to the school board in October.

Green Canyon High School was at 87% capacity, but this is the estimated percentage following construction of 10 additional classrooms set to be finished in March. Last year Ridgeline High School installed 10 classrooms of their own; the school is currently at 93% capacity.

The elementary schools are struggling the most with overcapacity. Out of the 17 total, 11 are over 100% capacity, with Heritage Elementary coming in at 116.5% capacity and four portable classrooms. River Heights Elementary has six portables but their capacity is only at 111.40%.

Smithfield currently has the most residents in the district at 3,607. Following is Hyrum with 2,360 students.

Green Canyon High was established in 2017, with Ridgeline in 2016 and Lewiston Elementary reestablished in 2015. The district currently has 25 schools total — 17 elementary schools, three middle schools and five high schools.

With the current numbers, CCSD will have to look at building new schools in the future. The process, according to Smith, involves a lot of time and effort.

“We go through a process where we get a committee of parents and businesses in the valley,” Smith said. “We’re actually thinking of starting that process. Then we research out where we have the most growth and where we think we need schools. The committee typically makes a recommendation to the board and then the board makes a decision of whether to put that issue to a vote for a bond for the area.”

Under a capital bond, the school district asks for an increase in property taxes, which will pay back lenders and interest on the loan. The state of Utah and local voters will have to approve any new bonds before building can begin.

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