Superintendent: New Idaho Falls High School biggest bang for buck

IDAHO FALLS – Officials could table plans to remodel Idaho Falls High School, opting instead to build a new school at a different location.

“It just seems to be the most bang for our buck,” said superintendent George Boland.

Idaho Falls Superintendent Georg Boland
Idaho Falls Superintendent Georg Boland

Boland and Idaho Falls board members met Tuesday to review options for updating and modernizing Idaho Falls and Skyline high schools. Earlier this year, the group embraced plans to redesign both schools. However, financial projections show that remodeling Skyline and rebuilding Idaho Falls stays within the $90 million originally projected to redesign the schools.

No board members voiced opposition to building a new school, but an official decision is yet to be made. Board members have said the district might seek a bond issue as early as Nov. 8, when the nation will choose a new president.

Demolition drives up the cost of potential remodels, Boland said during the meeting. Idaho Falls High School’s location complicates a remodel: The school is landlocked in a residential area, making it difficult to add the gymnasium and parking space originally planned for in the redesign.

Board chairwoman Lisa Burtenshaw said replacing the 64-year-old school is the best option. She pointed to longevity benefits: A new high school would serve students for much longer than a remodel, she said, buying the district roughly 20 years of time.

The board still plans to redesign 50-year-old Skyline. Though some proposed upgrades cater to extracurricular and community activities such as sports and fine arts, Boland said classroom instruction drives most of the planned improvements.

“These changes are primarily intended to facilitate collaboration for teachers and students,” he said. “We are looking at more flexibility in ways to configure a classroom in order to meet a variety of teaching strategies.”

Members plan to research the option to rebuild Idaho Falls high, identifying best locations for a new school and considering what to do with a vacated school building.

District officials must file paperwork with the county clerk by Sept. 9, in order to add a bond issue to the November ballot.

March 14 is the next option, with a Jan. 23 filing deadline.