School officials assured the county that 3 acres of exaction land in Teton Village will be put to good use, possibly as a school for teen athletes.
In a June 6 meeting with Teton County commissioners, Teton County School District Assistant Superintendent Jeff Daugherty said the land might be used for a school for “elite athletes,” specifically skiers and potentially hockey players.
“We’re considering a magnet-type facility there for hockey and skiing,” Daugherty said.
School board member Keith Gingery emphasized that the discussions surrounding what type of a school, if any, would go in Teton Village are in their nascent stages.
“These are really preliminary conversations,” he said. “It was just a real preliminary concept simply to show that the school district really did have a need, potentially, for that property.”
Gingery said the school district was just trying to demonstrate need for the land. The full school board hasn’t discussed the idea as a group, but Gingery said he’s talked with Superintendent Gillian Chapman a few times about the concept.
“There had been some comments that the school district may not need the property because there’s really no need for an elementary school out there,” Gingery said. “There’s not a large population of kids, and they can certainly make it to Wilson. The question was: Is there a need for the school district to take that land if there is no intention of building a school?”
Gingery and Daugherty reiterated that the school district will make use of the land in some way.
“It could end up being an elementary school, it could be a high school for skier athletes, but the point we were trying to make was that the schools definitely need that land and we will certainly find a use for it,” Gingery said.
Teton County Land Development Regulations say that when land developers develop property, they are required to give an exaction for community needs. These regulations say that 0.03 acres are to be designated for the Teton County School District or Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation for every lot or parcel that is created in the county.
Teton Village developers were given the go-ahead to start construction on 10 affordable houses on June 6. The units are part of a larger Teton Village Area 2 Resort Master Plan, first approved in 2005, that commits the resort to housing 220.5 people in 100 affordable units.
Of the 12.25-acre exaction parcel, 5.24 acres are a conservation easement. The county will end up with some of the remaining 7 acres, potentially for recreational uses like soccer fields.
After the property is conveyed to the county and the school district takes a partial title, a potential immediate use is an agreement with Parks and Rec that would “let them use it for fields until we need it to build our school,” Gingery said.
Funding is big question
Where construction funds for a school in Teton Village would come from remains to be seen.
Money for the district’s new Munger Mountain Elementary School came down to the last minutes of the Wyoming Legislature’s 2017 General Session. The $29 million request seemed to be in jeopardy as the Legislature debated funding cuts during tough budget times.
“We’re getting free land, but how would you build it?” Gingery said. “You’d probably have to partner with someone.”
Many Jackson Hole High School high athletes enroll in the school’s “zero hour” classes, which run from 8:05 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. The option helps them leave earlier in the day to make it to things like ski practice but still get the credits they need to graduate on time.
Public schools for athletes are fairly rare. The Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy is the first public ski and snowboard academy in the country. It’s part of the Eagle County School District in Colorado.
Every aspect of the school, including academics and scheduling, is structured to accommodate the needs of the full-time student athlete who might be competing on the international or national level and traveling frequently.
Being a full-time athlete at the Vail Ski & Snowboard Club is a prerequisite for attending the academy, a college preparatory school whose goal is to “challenge its student athletes with a rigorous academic curriculum while supporting a world-class training and competition schedule.”