Bonneville reveals boundaries for new high school

IDAHO FALLS — The Bonneville School District has carved up potential boundaries for its new Thunder Ridge High School.

The area encompasses neighborhoods east of Idaho Falls, with U.S. Highway 26 to the north, 45th East and Ammon Road to the west and 17th Street and Sunnyside Road to the south.

Bonneville assistant superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme unveiled the proposed area during a special board meeting Friday afternoon, and fielded questions from trustees over criteria used to set the boundaries — from enrollment to district demographics.

Woolstenhulme’s current estimates show Thunder Ridge absorbing 1,391 (38 percent) of the district’s high school-age students in 2018-19, when the school is slated to open its doors. That would keep roughly 1,135 (31 percent) of high school-age students at each of the district’s two current high schools.

Woolstenhulme also said the boundary proposal  spreads both economically disadvantaged students and disabled students “fairly evenly” throughout the three high schools. Current estimates show all three high schools serving a disabled student body of between 9 and 10 percent, and an economically disadvantaged student body of between 37
and 46 percent.

“The boundaries look pretty good,” said school board chairmen Jeff Bird. “But we’ll be interested to get some survey data back from patrons.”

Woolstenhulme said he’ll make an online survey available to patrons sometime this weekend. Trustees will then comb through the feedback and prepare to make a final decision regarding boundaries during a special board meeting slated for May 23 at 7 p.m.

Woolstenhulme also outlined proposed plans for students who won’t want to switch schools when Thunder Ridge opens its doors in 2018-19.

“I think that might be the most controversial thing about all of this,” Woolstenhulme said, adding that the district will likely allow seniors to attend the high school of their choice in 2018-19.

There also will likely be “some leeway” for 9-11 graders who don’t want to switch, but if requests become too high, the district won’t allow any students to stay behind.

After the school’s first year of operation, Woolstenhulme said all students — including seniors — will be expected to attend the school assigned to their home address.

“Honestly, when the district underwent boundary changes years ago, people eventually just settled into the boundary in which they lived,” Woolstenhulme said.