Vista School breaks ground on $13M expansion

ST. GEORGE — Faculty, parents, students and members of the Vista School Board broke ground Saturday afternoon on an expansion to the school’s campus in Ivins. The ceremony also showcased several of the school’s artistic groups.

Golden shovels line the sidewalk as part of a groundbreaking ceremony for Vista School’s campus expansion, Ivins, Utah, Jan. 16, 2021 | Photo by Hollie Stark, St. George News

The public charter school, which houses students in kindergarten through 9th grade, boasts a triple focus of arts, technology and academics.

For several years, the school has had a waiting list of nearly 300 prospective students, and the new expansion will allow for increased enrollment across all grades. It will also allow the school to provide enhanced offerings in their arts and technology departments.

“The school’s been here for 11 years, and the kids have progressed and the programs have progressed so much that I think we kind of exceeded the quality of our facility,” Vista School Director Sam Gibbs said. “We felt like we wanted to create a place where they could put on professional-grade performances and use state-of-the-art technology labs.”

The roughly $13 million, 100,000-square-foot expansion building, which is now under construction directly behind the current facility, will include a 510-seat theater; choral, instrumental and dance rooms; makerspace, technology and science labs; and a state-of-the-art counseling center.

Funding for the building was largely secured through municipal bonds that were sold on the stock market, Gibbs said.

“We worked over the last year and a half to certify as a municipality, and we sold municipal bonds on the stock market, and we are paying down those bonds,” Gibbs said. “We didn’t do any taxpayer funds.”

The groundbreaking was touted as an event that was years in the making and one that would go a long way toward enhancing the school’s mission of helping students discover who they want to become.

Members of Vista School’s Vista Rising Stars perform at a groundbreaking ceremony for the school’s campus expansion, Ivins, Utah, Jan. 16, 2021 | Photo by Hollie Stark, St. George News

In addition to specialized academic instruction, students are provided opportunities to explore elective coursework in visual and performing arts and technology, the school’s website states.

“Our students look forward to coming to school because offerings match their interests, which benefit all aspects of their academic experience including academic achievement and attitude,” the website says.

Board chair Matt Middione said that the school’s focus on academics, arts and technology is rare in charter schools that typically have a single focus, but that is precisely what gives the school the ability to create a space where students can become well-rounded and have opportunities to really discover what kind of future they want and what kind of people they want to become.

Middione has been a member of Vista School’s board for four years, and while he doesn’t currently have any children in the school, he said that hasn’t stopped him from catching the vision of what Vista offers.

Saturday’s groundbreaking featured performances from several of the school’s arts programs, including its advanced orchestra, intermediate band and percussion and the school’s song and dance performance group, Vista Rising Stars.

Following the program, Gibbs joined members of the board in a ceremonial groundbreaking.

Construction of the building will be done by Utah-based Hughes General Contractors. The facility is set to be completed in summer of 2022.

“I feel awesome,” Gibbs said. “This is such a great thing.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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