Crimson Cliffs Middle School ready to open; school district makes plans for future projects

The front of Crimson Cliffs Middle School in Washington City, Utah, July 27. 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — Crimson Cliffs Middle School’s doors will open for the first time to approximately 600 students Aug. 13.

The gymnasium in Crimson Cliffs Middle School in Washington City, Utah, July 27, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

The middle school, located in Washington City, has been under construction since summer of 2016 at a cost of $25 million, a price that includes all the school’s amenities, from furniture to lockers.

The school is meant to help with the congestion of other middle schools in the area, like Desert Hills and Pine View, said Steven Dunham, communication and public relations director for Washington County School District.

With three floors and over 30 classrooms, the school will be staffed with 27 teachers, five administrative faculty and five office staff.

On the same campus as the middle school is Crimson Cliffs High School, which is set to open in fall 2019.

Even though both the middle school and high school were needed additions to the community, Dunham said, what the school district really needs is an intermediate school.

Construction underway for Washington Fields Intermediate School in Washington City, Utah, July 27, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

“Sunrise Intermediate, they are 1,100 kids,” he said. “Fossil Ridge, they are really pushing toward 900 kids.”

School district officials were originally hoping to get land for Washington Fields Intermediate School, also estimated to open in fall 2019, directly by the Crimson Cliffs campus.

“We had a piece of land that we had our eye on, but it wasn’t perfect. We were looking for a piece of land out by Crimson Cliffs, and we couldn’t get it for a reasonable cost.”

Instead, Washington Fields Intermediate is located on 1140 South Street in Washington City, a few blocks from the Crimson Cliffs location.

“It’s not the perfect location,” Dunham said, “but we needed the building, and for our budget, that was the right price for the land.”

Future plans

According to its adopted budget for the fiscal year 2018-19, the district projects countywide enrollment will reach 30,569 students by Oct. 1, which is an increase of 554 students from last year.

Commons area in Crimson Cliffs Middle School in Washington City, Utah, July 27, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

Coming up in November, the school district will be asking voters to approve a “tax neutral bond,” Dunham said. As the school pays off old debt, property tax will decrease, so it only has to tax the amount it needs to pay off old debt.

“What we’re going to ask voters to do is let us freeze the tax rate where it is,” Dunham said, “and it will give us sufficient money for a new bond, and we don’t have to raise taxes anymore.”

The district is proposing that the bond will allow it to fund $125 million worth of projects without raising taxes.

Among those projects is a career and technical high school inspired by a high school in Houston, Texas. Career and technical high schools are formatted to each student depending on their desired career.

“We’ll have a focus, so that students can come in knowing a pathway they want to go through,” Dunham said, “and they can get their certificate, as well as their degree.”

Crimson Cliffs High School, which is estimated to open for the fall 2019-20 school year, under construction in Washington City, Utah, July 27, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

The school district will be formatting the career and technical high school’s pathways in cooperation with Dixie Applied Technology College and Dixie State University, Dunham said, so they can be employable after earning a basic certificate in high school. This will allow students to work and pay for their college tuition.

The school district hopes to format the future high school like the one in Houston, Dunham said.

“It is their highest performing school for grades,” he said of the Houston school, “because the kids want to be there. They see a relevancy for what they’re learning and how they’re going to use it in their life.”

Besides future plans for a career and technical high school, Dunham said the school district is also looking at purchasing land for more elementary schools to address continuing growth and development past the St. George Regional Airport.

“That will be part of (what) our bond in November is, we’re projecting that we’ll have to buy several million dollars worth of land with continued growth,” he said.

Email: mheckenliable@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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