Save PHS from expediency

May 17, 2019

I read a recent ISJ Editorial from 5/1/2019 that read in part: “We implore those fighting the renovations to come to the realization that changes need to be made to the school”. I personally see that as a misrepresentation of the purpose or actions of the Save Pocatello High School (SPHS) group by ISJ. The basic description of the group is: “A grass roots effort to save the architectural beauty of Pocatello High School”. I support SPHS in it’s attempt to open up the discussion about the planned upgrades and changes for PHS.

In my opinion the real problem is with the School District Trustees and Administration. As stated in the same ISJ Editorial, “Equally foolhardy is the marginalization by district officials of the input of the community and Pocatello High School alums regarding what happens to a school with roots dating back to the Gate City’s start.” The lack of transparency and the unwillingness of elected and non-elected officials to invite more public involvement and commentary with open arms has created this mess. Changes and upgrades are necessary for PHS. SD25 doesn’t have a great reputation for being open armed and transparent. (Our way or the highway).

The choice of Hummel and their designs may have followed rules and regulations but has left a lot to be desired. Other architectural firms have shown the desire to give SD25 other options and points of view. Hummel published their Revised Addition Floorplan on 4/12/2019. (Was there a public comment time allowed?) They are trying to solve some basic needs with “Common Areas”. Using the proposed 14,400 square feet for both levels, subtracting the stairs and elevators, the Common Areas seem to be just a wide hallway at best. Hummel also went so far as to name the Fire Evacuation Routes as “Social Stairs”. Will there be a “Social Stair Exemption” to the Pocatello Fire Code?, I ask rhetorically.

The Historical Commission is sometimes laughable and sometimes very sad, (see multiple videos of them in action), and can be overridden by the City Council if need be. Elected City of Pocatello officials should stand up for their constituents. They should take charge of the issues created by the Commission and Mr. Nielsen’s desire to read City Codes instead of listening to the citizens and respecting their right to be heard. Has anyone from the City Council noticed the need for reviewing obviously antiquated City Codes and how it is pertains to citizen involvement and commentary on local issues?

ISJ Editorial Board, I agree with you in this section of the Editorial from 5/1/2019: “We also implore the School District 25 Board of Trustees as well as district administrators to realize that more input on this project will result in a better project. We urge the district to put the brakes on the project temporarily so that an advisory committee can be formed to review the proposed renovations and make sure the school board is being presented with the best options”.

Francis McNamara,

Worthington, Minnesota