The Hidden Costs of Building Out West, pt. II

In a previous post, we listed some of the infrastructural upgrades Provo School District would have to do to operate on the Footprinter Park site. Facilities director Mark Wheeler told us later that many of those infrastructural costs were factored into the $55 million estimate to build on that site. So we stand corrected.

However, we still believe that a west-side option would still actually be cheaper for the taxpayer. A west-side middle school would also disproportionately hurt the poor. That’s because many parents within the two-mile radius who *may* be ineligible for busing may start driving their kids more, costing more than the increase of taxes from a $10m difference in construction cost.

What would it take to walk or bike to school within that two-mile radius?

Students within the yellow area *may* not be eligible for busing.

A student living in the Dixon, Timpanogos, or Franklin areas would have to cross railroad tracks and an interstate. Because there are only a few ways to cross those, they may have to walk or bike a longer distance, using busier roads that cross the tracks and interstate.

Riding from Dixon to Footprinter Park
Data comes from walkscore.com

Increased Driving

According to Dixon staff, Dixon now has over 300 students that bike or walk to school every day. The streets are lined with trees, parked cars, and grassy medians that put pedestrians far away from moving cars. The sidewalks are complete and on every street.

But the Footprinter Park site looks much different. Some streets don’t yet have sidewalk. If there are sidewalks, there are no tree-lined medians. Many parents would feel uncomfortable sending their children by foot or bike if the school were moved. Many within the 2-mile radius may end up driving instead.

Cost of Driving vs. Increased Taxes

A drive from Dixon to Footprinter Park is about two miles.

If I were a resident living near Dixon Middle (within the two-mile radius) and chose to drive my child to school, I’d drive about four miles a day getting them there and back, two times a day. How much would that cost me?

  • 8 miles a day x 180 days = 1440 miles
  • 1440 miles x $.50 per mile = $720 per year

And what would an increase of $10 million in school construction cost in taxes? At the Rock Canyon Elementary meeting we learned that a $100k homeowner would pay just $1 more over the course of three years (or $.30 per year) for every $1.7m in bond price. So a $10m difference means an increase of just $11 paid over three years (or $4 per year) for a $200k homeowner.

Cost of Driving Would Disproportionately Affect Low-income

The lighter the color, the lower the median household income.

As seen on this US Census map, households within the Dixon, North Park, Timpanogos, Franklin, and Franklin South areas–all within Dixon boundaries–have lower median incomes than those west of the interstate. These are also the parents who are likely to start driving their kids to school because of the unsafe routes.

“But don’t we ask west-siders to make that journey?”

All students west of I-15 are currently eligible for busing. They aren’t expected to get to school on their own. We also hope that in 2030, when we will need three middle schools, that there will be one at the Footprinter Park site to serve those west of I-15.

Current Dixon bus routes

Conclusion

Would you rather pay $4 per year in increased taxes or $720 per year to drive your kid to school? I think I know what a single mom or family with two working parents would choose.

By keeping Dixon in Dixon, we help the poorest families in our city save time and money. Save Dixon and build out west when the time is right.

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