We are excited to share this project with the community and are anxious to ensure we answer your questions. To address many of the questions we have heard, staff has developed the following FAQs to provide a little more information about the project.
We encourage you to get involved in the project and let us know your thoughts. To sign up to receive regular project updates email your name and email address to Charlotte Reynolds.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the current needs for student population?
Approximately 30% of our elementary student population urgently go to school in modular classrooms or overcrowded classrooms. Additionally, a capacity study completed in late 2015 indicated that future growth projections suggest we need an additional 500 seats by 2025. While not all agree that these numbers will come to pass, the Board of Education is mandated to provide safe, adequate classroom space for the students in Teton County. We are actively working with other agencies to compile the best data possible as the foundation for making the ultimate decisions on future school configurations and capacities.
Why is this location the right one?
With over 97% of land in Teton County in public ownership, there are challenges with finding sites anywhere. When we factored together the number of students traveling from the south, the impact to more traffic through town, and our ability to secure this site at a cost that the State of Wyoming would accept, we zeroed in on just a few sites. This property prevailed as the most suitable. More than 430 students currently live south of high school road. More than 330 live south of Rafter J in Melody Ranch, Game Creek, Hoback, Evans Trailer Court and other neighborhoods in the south county area.
What other sites did you analyze?
We examined all suitable pieces of property that were or may be available for purchase in the county. Of the suitable sites, there was only one that we could afford. State requirements dictated a minimum of 10 acres based on the number of students who will be accommodated at the school. The largest contiguous parcel owned by TCSD is the parcel where Davey Jackson Elementary School sits. The current school accommodates approximately 500 students on the other 5 acres. Adding nearly 600 students to the remaining 4 acres is not feasible or appropriate due to exacerbating traffic issues, exceed best practices for the size of a k-5 facility and would eliminate much needed in-town athletic/recreational fields that are used extensively in the service of students/children. Combining these factors make the Willow Street property inappropriate for the new school.
Will this spur development in the Hog Island area?
Our focus, as a school district, is to meet our mandate to provide facilities to support and promote student learning. We are committed to being good neighbors to the current residents and will continue to support local government officials as they determine the best zoning and development considerations for the area.
What are your options for wastewater treatment?
Our preferred option is to construct a new sewer line that will connect to the Town of Jackson wastewater treatment plant. We feel this is the best option in terms of infrastructure longevity and sensitivity to the environment. We also have the option of constructing an onsite system via a septic system, if that is the choice the local elected officials want us to make.
What students will attend this school?
While the official school boundary areas have yet to be determined, generally speaking students in grades kindergarten through 5th grades who live south of high school road will attend the new school.
We currently have $3.9M allocated from the state for planning and design. Construction is budgeted at $29M for the building and infrastructure. These estimates are based on the state formula for per student square footage and construction costs formulas.
How are you including teachers, educators, and parents?
Due to the nature of real estate purchases, and as allowed in state statute, the school board selected and secured state approval for the land purchase during executive sessions. Once the land was purchased we have held multiple public meetings and workshops to keep teachers, parents, area neighbors and the community at large informed and involved in the project. We will continue to reach out to the community via media, community and stakeholder meetings, postings to our social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter), and website including the intent to install a webcam to capture the construction process. We are open to any suggestions on communication and engagement opportunities. Our goal is to serve the students and parents of the community, and also our talented educators while maintaining the project timeline.
What will the school look like?
While the design work is currently underway we are looking to construct a 584 student elementary school in 77,000 square feet that is sensitive to its surroundings. We want to provide a “sense of place” that honors the unique environment and geography in which we live. It will house four classrooms for each grade level. There will also be a gymnasium, a cafeteria and kitchen, a library/media center, music and art rooms as well as multi-purpose spaces. There will be outdoor playgrounds and likely green space, fields for recreational options.
Will it be energy efficient?
The Board of Trustees have approved constructing a building that will achieve LEED gold standards, though they have not decided whether they will seek the expensive certification. They want an energy efficient building and want to save as much construction expense as possible. They are committed to providing the community with a highly efficient school that will be environmentally friendly and efficient to maintain.
How will transportation work?
TCSD has above average bus ridership and we will continue to encourage school bus ridership as the primary way in which students are transported to and from the new school. We are currently conducting a traffic study to ensure safe access to and from the school from South Highway 89.
Our current route modeling indicate that students in the new school enrollment area will spend less time being transported to and from school than they currently do.
Did the School Board coordinate with others like County Commissioners on the site location decision?
TCSD respects the community’s goals as described through the 2012 Comprehensive Plan. We worked diligently to secure property that would allow us to meet our mandate while considering broader community and land use planning goals. Ultimately there was only one property available to us, greatly limiting the opportunities to collaborate with local government agencies. TCSD will continue to have collaborative relationship with all other public/governmental agencies while each carries out their respective community responsibilities.
While the parcel has sufficient acreage for a second school on the site, at this time our plans remain focused on constructing this new elementary school on the smallest footprint possible as we do not what our future needs may be, or what other opportunities for the site may arise in the future.
How will you maximize space?
The school will be sited in the section of the property most suitable for construction. Options for maximizing efficiency include a second story, a partial second story, and a walk out lower level. In addition, a portion of the facilities may be built into existing inclines on the land, depending on engineering and architectural analysis.
How does the location affect safety?
Local law enforcement agencies and Jackson Hole Fire/EMS will consult and advise to ensure the site meets all health and safety considerations, along with critical input from Wyoming Department of Transportation. These agencies have been consulted prior to the purchase of the site, and will continue to offer their technical expertise. The site is located between Station 7 in Adams Canyon and Station 3 in Hoback Junction, ensuring that in any unfortunate event involving safety, kids are close to emergency services.