Twin Falls weighs building expansion

TWIN FALLS – Twin Falls School District trustees are studying a plan to build three new schools and expand a fourth.

Twin Falls logoEnrollment has increased by about 4 percent in each of the last two years, leaving the district with 726 additional students.

“For sure we’re seeing the largest size classes that we’ve had,” said Amy McBride, principal of Robert Stuart Middle School, where enrollment is up by 45 students this year. “It’s not unusual to see 34 in a classroom, but we try really hard to keep it under 30.”

Superintendent Wiley Dobbs and district leaders convened a facilities planning committee of 16 district staffers and 16 community members to review data and growth trends over the past year. In July, committee members recommended a plan to build two new elementary schools, a new middle school and add on to Canyon Ridge High School.

Trustees and district leaders will meet this week with a financial analyst to determine the taxpayer impact. Then trustees will weigh the financial implications for a month before deciding whether to pursue a tax levy, likely in March 2014.

“If it’s approved, we will communicate clearly with our constituents to make sure they have the information they need to cast an informed ballot, and then we’ll encourage them to vote,” Dobbs said.

The district is looking to increase the number of buildings by nearly 25 percent. The district now maintains 13 schools, including two high schools, two middle schools, seven elementary schools, an alternative high school and a school in the local juvenile detention facility.

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Twin Falls patrons have supported bonds and levies. During Dobbs’ 10-year tenure, voters approved all four of the district’s levies: two supplemental levies, a facilities levy and a plant facilities levy.

“For each one, we made over 100 presentations to the community, including at each of the schools, service clubs and other groups,” Dobbs said. “We’ll replicate that if the board decides to go forward.”

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