Idaho Falls plans for major structural upgrades

Multimillion dollar structural improvements could be coming to the Skyline and Idaho Falls high schools and three elementary schools.

Concepts for what district administrators are calling the “High School Redesign Project” range from a new media center and library at Idaho Falls High to an auditorium and special-needs area at Skyline High.

Funding the project will depend on local voters, said Idaho Falls Superintendent George Boland.

“It will have to be a bond,” Boland said, “and the earliest for that would be November.”

Idaho Falls Superintendent Georg Boland
Idaho Falls Superintendent George Boland

Boland would not provide estimated costs for the improvements but said plans are moving forward swiftly. He did say redesign plans at Westside, Fox Hole and Sunnyside elementary schools will run from $800,000 to $1 million each.

“We are working closely with teachers and building administrators to identify higher and lesser priorities in terms of the changes we want to make,” he said.

Teachers and administrators also have been working closely with planners at Hummel Architects, a Boise firm, to key in on structural improvements best suited for students and staff.

“It’s a way to get lay people providing input for best strategies,” he said. “We are looking at everything from current layouts to flow patterns inside and outside of the schools.”

Though some of the changes cater to extracurricular and community activities, such as sports and fine arts, Boland said classroom instruction is driving 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.”

Some of the changes are aimed at better compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some of the physical education facilities are downstairs and that presents problems for some students.

A series of PowerPoint slides on the district’s website provide areal views of the schools, as well as currently proposed interior and exterior upgrades.

The district hopes to have a finalized plan and cost estimates for the entire project by July.

An open house for parents and other stakeholders to provide input will be held 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 25, at the Willard Arts Center in Idaho Falls.