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Provo High won't be moving; Timpview to get a new gym

The Provo School Board is finding out the real growing pains of trying to build enough classroom space for students.

School construction was the topic during a combined work session and board meeting Wednesday. The board must meet the demands of a $22.5 million, 10-year school bond passed last year - and is finding the task difficult.At the meeting, board members showed they are apparently ignoring a plea to relocate Provo High School. Instead of replacing the aging school, board members favor continued improvements.

The board also voted to spend nearly $1 million over budget to build a new gymnasium at Timp-view High School.

The board was cautioned not to build a southeast elementary school near Bicentennial Park after a geological survey recommended against it. The board also discussed going over budget by some $375,000 on the Amelia Earhart Elementary School in southwest Provo.

Without discussing a Parent Teacher Association suggestion that Provo High be replaced, the board forged ahead on completing the new media center, plans for remodeling the old library area into offices and a more-inviting lunchroom. It also discussed remodeling the student auditorium.

Later, Superintendent Mike Jacobsen told the Deseret News that the board chose not to pursue the idea of relocating the school, an idea discussed at a previous school-board meeting. In recent years the district has spent millions updating and refurbishing the high school.

Principal Samuel Jarman said the new media center would come in at about $935,000, about $400,000 under budget and should be completed with adequate equipment, including a host of new computers. Residents voted for a complete media center, not a shell, he said.

The major remodel of the old library area will include an improved counseling center, computer network administration office, doubling the faculty lounge, increasing the size of the cafeteria, moving and improving the main office and adding a classroom with a work area. High school drafting students drew the preliminary plans, which will be turned over to a professional architectural firm, Jarman said.

Assistant Principal Sam Ray said remodeling of the auditorium should make it safer, while improving the lighting and acoustics. Improving the stage area, including adding an orchestra pit are also in the plans.

Jarman said the bond earmarked $250,000 to remodel the auditorium, but a year-old estimate by assistant superintendent Patti Harrington put renovation costs at $1 million.

After hearing pleas from Timpview High School Principal Randy Merrill, the board voted to accept the low bid from Interwest Construction of North Salt Lake for the new gymnasium. Originally projected to cost some $2.5 million, the low bid was $3.35 million.

Merrill said he has been at Timpview 13 years and has had to live with poor planning by his predecessors. Merrill called the $2.5 million estimate a pie in the sky number which failed to recognize the school's true gymnasium needs. He wanted a gymnasium that would meet the needs of the school for 50 years.

Merrill got his wish, but at the expense of at least four more classrooms, which were moved to the bottom of the building wish list. Merrill said the school's population this year has dropped, making classroom space manageable.

The new gym will have an 8-foot-wide track that circles the upper floor and will serve as a corridor to move people in and out of the bleachers from the top.Capacity is estimated at 2,000.

Additional team rooms, locker rooms and storage also expanded the building. Merrill said the team rooms were needed so the building wouldn't have to be left open while teams used older locker rooms.

On the new southeast elementary school site, a letter from the Utah Geological Survey suggested the district not build the school there. But it also offered guidelines if the district chooses to go ahead, said Phil Lott, director of transportation and maintenance.

The site, in the vicinity of Bicentennial Park, 1440 South and Slate Canyon Drive, lies between two faults. Lott says the district won't build there if it has another option.

The board also said Amelia Earhart Elementary, which opens in the fall in the Harbor Park area, went over budget about $375,000 because of unexpected site preparation work.