Idaho Falls revises bond issue

The Idaho Falls School District could float a revised bond issue to upgrade its two high schools as early as May.

Trustees met Friday morning to pinpoint ways to whittle down a $110 million measure to rebuild Idaho Falls High School and extensively remodel Skyline High School. Fifty-eight percent of voters supported this measure in November, but it still fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass.

Scott Straubhar of Hummel Architects and Mike Clements of Bateman-Hall contractors presented trustees with ways to trim the measure, from scrapping a proposed auxiliary gym to scaling back administrative space.

Trustees placed color-coded stickers next to design features they would be willing to consider cutting, reducing or adding to the measure on a contingent basis. Four unanimous selections revolved around drafts for a new Idaho Falls High School:

  • Removal of an auxiliary gym: $2.5 million.
  • Removal of an auditorium: $7.8 million.
  • Removal of eight classrooms: $2.3 million.
  • Combining a media center and commons area: $270,000.

All trustees also agreed on the possibility of reducing parking and the size of a proposed administrative addition at Skyline High School — a combined reduction of about $3 million.

Clements acknowledged that these $14 million in possible cuts would reduce project costs. But it wouldn’t cut the bottom line from November’s $110 million request.

“If we were to go out and bond today, it would be for $114 million,” he said.

The difference, he said, stems from rising construction costs and material shortages.

Though the board is still in the early stage of drafting a measure, trustees Lisa Burtenshaw, David Lent and Deidre Warden expressed support for a revised bond issue of $85 million to $90 million, with optional “ancillary” improvements tacked on.

Lents and trustee Larry Wilson expressed support for putting the measure on the May ballot.

“I want to get this done,” Wilson said.

Trustees have until March 16 to file paperwork with the Bonneville County Elections Office.

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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