Remodel Polk Elementary, or tear it down and start over?

May 11, 2018, 6:56 PM | Updated: May 12, 2018, 9:21 am

OGDEN, Utah – Renovate and upgrade the old school, or tear it down and start over? Those are the choices Ogden School District faces with Polk Elementary School which opened for classes nearly 90 years ago.

Two recent engineering reports show a tough decision needs to be made.

Two engineering firms hired by Ogden School District conclude in their surveys of the school that there are significant problems with the structure of Polk Elementary, and it could not withstand an earthquake. Many Utah school districts face similar dilemmas.

“It was a lovely school. But, what does a child know?” said Judith Mitchell who attended Polk Elementary in the early 1940s, and sent three kids here.

She believes Polk Elementary should be saved.

“That doesn’t mean that we don’t upgrade, or that we don’t add to it in a way that is complementary. We want to do that,” she said. “But we’re always ripping stuff down. They need to do what they have to do to make sure that it is seismically safe for the children. I certainly don’t disagree with that but, we can build up in a way they could be complementary.”

Josh Crowton agrees. His parents and grandparents went to school at Polk, and so do his kids. It’s part of his neighborhood.

“Preserve the feel of a neighborhood walkable school,” he said. “Not a lot of places have that. So let’s keep it. Let’s keep it unique to this area.”

He believes renovating and seismically upgrading the old part of the building and adding on new modern educational areas in a complimentary wing would be a win-win for the community.

“It’s a neighborhood feel,” he said . “You aren’t lost in the shuffle. People know each other. Kids are in small classes. Preserve something beautiful and historic, and add on something that matches it well, but still gives you the workable flow you’re after.”

The engineering reports show the cost to rebuild, and the cost to renovate and seismically upgrade would be similar, about $18 million. But, the school district says renovating would force them to revisit the issue in another 20 years, which they wouldn’t have to do with a new school.

“The greater cost value for their tax dollars is to rebuild. There is absolutely no question of that,” said Jer Bates, a spokesperson for the school district.

But, that does not take into account the love for the school in the neighborhood, and throughout Ogden

“I do think they need to go to the community and see what the community wants,” said Connie Cox, with the Weber County Heritage Foundation. She also taught in Ogden Schools 35 years. “It’s a value judgment when it comes right down to it.”

Some want their tax dollars used for preserving and upgrading. Another parent I spoke with says the priority should be safety and better learning spaces for kids and teachers. Preserving the old building would be nice, she said, but not at the expense of making classrooms larger and more functional, and improving earthquake safety.

School improvements here were part of a bond last fall, which voters rejected.

”It is a very passionate issue, and I understand that.“ said Bates. “Our Board of Education and our school district are really trying to be very responsible about any decisions that are made in the community.“

There are other critical issues the district must consider, he said. Elementary enrollment in Ogden is declining, and operating 14 elementary schools may no longer be viable. In addition, nine of those schools are in need of serious upgrades or replacement, Bates said.

“So, we’re trying to factor in both of those two things as part of a district wide and city wide picture or puzzle, that we’re trying to put together. This neighborhood is one important piece.”

The school district is working on putting together a bond committee that will come up with a proposal for the community to vote on.

“There’s still no final determination that’s been made,” said Bates. “We want our public to be engaged, and we want them to understand that no decisions have been made, and any decisions that do get made will incorporate public feedback.”


KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Dozens gathered at the steps of the Utah Capitol on Saturday in support of Ukraine on the second of...

Brianna Chavez

Dozens gather in support of Ukraine two years since Russia’s invasion

Dozens gathered at the steps of the Utah Capitol on Saturday in support of Ukraine on the second of anniversary of Russia's invasion.

11 hours ago

FILE - The Utah Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023. A Utah legislative committee voted not to advanc...

Daniel Woodruff

Utah lawmaker’s push to regulate short-term rentals falls short

A Utah legislative committee voted not to advance a bill that would have imposed regulations on short-term rentals in the state.

12 hours ago

Juan and Rosa Mercado attend a news conference in Salt Lake City on Sept. 16, 2019. A judge has dec...

Cassidy Wixom, KSL.com

Judge declines to throw out suit against Ogden police officers who shot, killed knife-wielding man

A U.S. district judge has declined to dismiss a case brought against the city of Ogden and a group of police officers by the parents of a pocketknife-wielding man who was shot and killed by police in 2019.

12 hours ago

emergency lights...

Mark Jones

17-year-old ‘not expected to survive’ following a motorcycle crash

A 17-year-old male is not expected to survive after his motorcycle struck a vehicle on Saturday afternoon, according to the Lehi City Police Department. 

13 hours ago

A trip to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines quickly became personnel for...

Dan Rascon

Members of Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square pay respects to fallen US soldiers in the Philippines

Members of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square visited the largest American cemetery outside of the United States, making it a tender and special day for all.

15 hours ago

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performs for the first time in the Philippines in the grand b...

Dan Rascon

Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performs for first time in the Philippines

History was made for the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square as it performed its very first concert ever in the Philippines.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Remodel Polk Elementary, or tear it down and start over?