District 25 to consider funding for high school expansion, kindergarten schedule change

February 12, 2019

POCATELLO — The School District 25 Board of Trustees is scheduled to make decisions Tuesday affecting both the future of Pocatello High School and parents of children entering kindergarten next fall.

During its regular meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the district’s office, located at 3115 Pole Line Road, the board is expected to take action on revising the kindergarten schedule to include both morning and afternoon sessions lasting two hours and 45 minutes during every weekday.

The board will also consider transferring another $2.5 million from its general fund toward a planned expansion of PHS.

Prior to the 2010-2011 school year, the economic recession led the state to cut funding for midday busing and field trip transportation, prompting District 25 to implement its current kindergarten schedule.

Kindergarten students now attend school every other weekday for the duration of the school day, with alternating Mondays off.

Improvements to the state’s economy prompted the state Legislature to restore transportation funding prior to the 2017-2018 school year, providing the district the opportunity to return to offering shorter classes on every weekday. District officials said parents who responded to a survey strongly supported the proposed change.

According to a district memorandum, the funding transfer for the PHS project will help the district cope with rising cost estimates due to design challenges posed by buried main sewer and water lines that pass through the campus. The district initially set aside $4.5 million for the project and allocated another $500,000 in January.

Hummel Architects, based in Boise, designed plans to improve student safety at PHS by building a transparent commons area connecting its main campus with the second unit of the campus, which includes a gymnasium and auditorium.The new common area would also alleviate lunchroom overcrowding, and an elevator would be built to improve access for students with disabilities. Furthermore, a third building would house science and math classrooms.

District spokeswoman Courtney Fisher said those initial architectural plans are now being updated, based on issues relating to the buried lines.

According to the school district’s memorandum, it would be “impractical and unwise to construct a major building over this area.”

“The project is still in the problem-solving phase,” Fisher said. “There are no final designs.”

Fisher said the district, nonetheless, has the necessary funding set aside for the project and bonding won’t be necessary.

Some alumni have voiced concerns that preliminary designs have been too modern and haven’t adequately preserved the historical integrity of the PHS architecture. District officials have emphasized that the clear common area connecting the buildings would be ideal because it wouldn’t obstruct the view of the historic architecture.

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