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Front Page » November 3, 2005 » Local News » Pinnacle Canyon focuses on future growth, improved facili...
Published 3,625 days ago

Pinnacle Canyon focuses on future growth, improved facilities at school

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Sun Advocate general manager

An inside hall spans the length of the portable classroom set up on the north end of Pinnacle Canyon Academy. The space was needed because the former Notre Dame School was neither big enough nor in condition to accommodate the academy's students when Pinnacle Canyon purchased the building.

Pinnacle Canyon Academy was able to move from its location in Carbonville and start classes in August, with the aid of a portable building purchased from Alpine School District in 2003.

Now, Pinnacle Canyon personnel and students look forward to a future in a permanent location and operate at the former Notre Dame School property for a long time.

"The best thing about all of this is that we are full," pointed out Roberta Hardy, the chief administrator of the school. "Last year at the Carbonville site, we had 310 students. Now, we have over 360. We just can't take on any more students this year."

The school is planning not only for future growth, but to provide better facilities for all the students attending Pinnacle Canyon.

Right now, the buildings on the campus in Price are in transition.

"The portable building we have has provided for some very nice classroom space and when it was assembled I think we were all surprised at how good it came out," continued Hardy.

The units from which it is built, sat for a couple of years on a lot in Helper. Many people traveling on U.S. Highway 6 wondered what the units were for.

"They did come out very nice, but it was a lot of work," said Hardy. "We really got a deal on them when we bought them from Alpine ($5,000) because they needed them moved away from the school where they were located very quickly.

But the real cost of the units came when the academy had to assemble and get the structures ready for school.

Hardy said the expense of putting the units together, upgrading them to modern standards and getting them ready for school was about $225,000.

However, when the units were completed, the structures provided more than 13,000 square feet of office and classroom space.

While the bulk of students are in the portable units, the old Notre Dame building is also being used. After tearing down the end structure on the south end of the existing building this summer, engineers found that the brick wall that separated the oldest part of the building that was taken down and the gym/cafeteria that was built in the 1950's was nothing but soft dust.

Crews have been digging trenches for footings on the south end of the building at Pinnacle Canyon School. The new addition to the charter school will house classroom space, a library, a cafeteria and include an amphitheater as well.

"We had to replace that with a new brick wall," said Hardy. "The classroom part of the main building also needed a lot of upgrading. We redid the entire electrical system and put in new heating and ventilation units."

Previously heated by a boiler system, the building now has separate roof top units that heat and cool the building. In addition money was needed to upgrade the rest rooms because they did not comply with new codes and the American Disabilities Act. The main corrridor also had to be changed to meet codes for fire rating.

Now a new addition is going up on the south end of the school. In the next couple of weeks the footings will be poured for a new classroom, cafeteria and library addition. In addition there will be an amphitheater on the east side of the building. The school also intends to rennovate the old football field that lies on the hill above the school and turn it into a soccer field.

"Once that is done, then we can begin on the north side of the building," said Hardy explaining that it will be a flipped copy (in terms of appearance) of the south end of the facility. "However, we never want people to forget this was once the Notre Dame School. We plan on having a permanent display with Notre Dame photos and information about the school and it's impact on the community."

By the time the entire remodeling is done and everything is in its place, Hardy says the total cost will be around $3.75 million.

"You know we would have liked to have stayed in the building where we were and built there, but things just didn't work out, so here we are," she said of the journey the school has taken.

Many people have wondered how the school will be able to fund all the improvements it needs. While Pinnacle Canyon is a public school, being a charter school they do not have the right to tax or bond. So they must seek out private funds, grants and other kinds of loans to build and equip the buildings.

"For this project most of the money came from the USDA rural development fund," said Hardy. "We are actually the only charter school in the state that has gone that route. Some have been constructed by working with local development companies. Most of the states charter schools lease their buildings. But of course when they do that and they make any improvements to the facility, they just have to leave those upgrades in place and walk away from them if they leave."

The trip toward buying the Notre Dame School and finally getting it open was not easy. The school had looked at a number of sites for a new building and even had some plans for a school on Airport Road at one time. But the Notre Dame site made sense to those involved and after clearances from the Utah Historical Society the school was able to close the deal with the Catholic Church last June. That didn't give the staff much time to rennovate, move in and get set up for classes.

Three days before school started some looked around wondered if it could begin on time. Many parents of students came before school started to help get the building ready for classes.

"I came to the school the day before classes started to help my daughters teacher clean and set up her room and there was nothing done at all," said Kelly Wilkinson. "I couldn't believe what we got done in that one day."

The school continues to hope to have a high school included one day. Presently the facility houses students from kindergarten to ninth grade. Some kids transition from the regular public schools in the area to the charter school and then back again.

"You know, one size doesn't fit all," said Hardy. "That's what having a choice is all about."

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