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Upgrades to Idaho Falls schools could start at $78 million

Education

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Idaho Falls Superintendent George Boland discusses districtwide upgrades during a recent community meeting. | IdahoEdNews.org

IDAHO FALLS — The first phase of a longterm plan to upgrade the Idaho Falls School District 91’s aging infrastructure could start at $78 million.

The district on Wednesday shared draft recommendations for a three-phased plan to upgrade its schools in the coming years.

The first recommended phase includes a $78,100,611 potential price tag and revolves around “safety, capacity and critical upgrades” at Idaho Falls and Skyline high schools and Eagle Rock and Taylorview middle schools.

Phase 1 recommendations include:

  • Added classrooms and labs at Idaho Falls High School, as well as a new student commons area, administration and counseling space, front entrance and other safety upgrades.
  • A new front entrance, auditorium, administration and counseling space and repairs to the roof and parking lot at Skyline High.
  • New additions at both middle schools to absorb the district’s sixth graders, who now attend elementary schools.

Phase 2 recommendations include further upgrades to the two high schools, building a centralized career-technical center, rebuilding Temple View and Linden Park elementary schools and repurposing Theresa Bunker Elementary School as an early-childhood center.

Phase 3 would include completing Idaho Falls High School renovations, elementary modernization projects and the early childhood center.

The district does not yet have estimated price tags for phases 2 and 3, said Idaho Falls spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne.

A 34-member steering committee comprised of parents, educators and community leaders spent months developing the recommendations through community feedback. The group discussed the recommendations during a meeting Tuesday.

Draft recommendations will now go before trustees during their Nov. 13 board meeting. The board’s consideration will likely commence talk of future ballot measures to fund the scope of work.

“These are conversations the school board will have in the coming weeks and months,” Wimborne said.

It’s not the first time Idaho Falls has drafted recommendations for updating infrastructure. Previous calls for community input contributed to a $110 million bond issue to rebuild Idaho Falls High School and remodel Skyline High School. Voters rejected the measure in November.

The district then pushed a pair of proposals totaling $99.5 million for similar upgrades to the high schools. Both of those measures fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass.

This time, trustees hired consulting firm Cooperative Strategies to help draft the recommendations. The district agreed to pay a flat fee of $170,000 for the firm’s services in fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Click here to view the recommendations presented to Tuesday’s steering committee meeting.

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