Sandy High bursting at the seams

It's time for a new building
by: contributed photo, Elyse Izer

I live within a stone's throw of Sandy High School - literally. I have lived there for more than 12 years, and in all that time I had never been inside it, nor did I have any occasion to be. However, about five months ago I got interested in the talk about possibly trying to build a new high school, and since I have small children who would surely benefit from one, I decided to find out more about it. In doing so I was given a tour of the high school, and let me tell you, I was shocked at the things I have since learned.

Granted, because of my location, I have seen the many traffic problems and the large number of students coming and going all day. Now I know why.

The high school is 200 students over capacity and 37,000 square feet undersized for the current population. The cafeteria and kitchen are so small for a student body of over 1,400 students that it is laughable. Therefore, Sandy High is the only school in the district with three lunch periods and an open campus to try and feed everyone in a timely manner.

The students are so crowded in classrooms that they have to use other areas for classroom instruction such as the library, the wood shop, even the old bus garages. Students have to race to class to get a seat, and the ones who get hung up in the overcrowded halls end up sitting on the floor. Locker space is so limited that students have to get on a waiting list or share the space; so many students are dragging heavy bookbags around school all day. Tthere are only enough restroom facilities to accommodate 1,000 students.

The school was built in 1922 and has undergone many changes and additions since then. Because of all the add-ons and outbuildings used as classrooms, there are more than 48 ways in and out of the buildings. This is extremely dangerous in today's day and age and very difficult for the staff to monitor. Lockdowns, lock-ins and fire alarms are a huge problem.

I find it interesting that we are hearing so much lately about Gresham/Barlow and the new high school that they plan to build because they are a whopping 50 students over capacity. Sandy High was 50 over capacity more than 15 years ago.

Citizens are starting to get organized, and the district hopes to get a bond on the ballet for November 2008 to build a new high school. If all goes perfectly, the school would be built by 2012. Sadly, that's the soonest it can happen, so currently they are putting in even more modulars to try to accommodate the growing student population.

I shudder to think what would happen if a bond doesn't pass. I urge all community members to get involved. If you need persuading, contact the high school.

The principal, Jim Saxton, would be happy to give you a tour during school hours so you can really see the problems. If you are already in agreement, then get involved. There are going to be several task forces forming in the next few months, and they could use your help. If you are interested in finding out more, send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or at the very least, talk to a few family members, friends and neighbors and get them on board so the vote will pass. November 2008 is still a long time away, but it's never too early to start getting the word out.

Parents of high school students or recently graduated students have known about these problems for a long time. But if I didn't know, and I live within walking distance, then we need to do a better job of getting the word out. This affects our whole community, not just parents. A high school is the focal point of a community. It helps bring better businesses, better jobs, and it helps everyone's property values.

We need a new high school for our community and most of all for our kids.

Elyse Izer is a Sandy resident.