Idaho Falls gathers input for longterm facilities plan

IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls School District could have a plan and estimated price tag for upgrading its facilities before fall.

But first, patrons must drill down what they like — and don’t like — about options on the table.

“If I don’t know your objectives, how can I get you a cost?” said Tracy Richter, president of Cooperative Strategies, the consulting firm helping the district develop a longterm plan to upgrade its aging infrastructure.

Idaho Falls patrons consider options for upgrading the district’s aging schools.

On Wednesday, Richter walked nearly 100 Idaho Falls patrons through a range of options for creating a 10-year master facilities plan for the district.

Some options include:

  • Updating, modernizing or replacing the district’s two high schools.
  • Replacing Temple View Elementary School.
  • Repurposing Theresa Bunker Elementary School into a district-wide magnet school.
  • Maintaining current elementary schools and adjusting boundaries.

The district is also seeking feedback on whether or not to centralize future learning and extracurricular programs, from career-technical space to athletic facilities. (Click here to view a YouTube video that contains all upgrade options.)

Following a nearly hour-long presentation from Richter, community members formed groups of four to seven people to outline each option’s perceived benefits and challenges.

At least one patron wondered why options did not include projected costs.

Richter reiterated the meeting’s focus on gathering input before developing price projections. Once Cooperative Strategies learns what people want, he added, it can “fit the budget to get there.”

Though options did not include a price tag per se, the district provided each group with a data summary sheet that included both estimated renovation and replacement costs. These ranged from $7.2 million to replace Theresa Bunker Elementary to $73.7 million to replace Skyline High School.

District spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne said Cooperative Strategies will analyze input from the meeting to move closer to a final plan. The district hopes to present final recommendations to its board of trustees in September.

It’s not the first time Idaho Falls has asked for feedback on updating the district’s aging infrastructure. Previous calls for 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.

Those who did not attend Wednesday’s meeting can take an educational framework survey here.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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