Following more than a year of discussion and input from parents, neighbors and patrons, the Boise School District has decided to build a new Highlands Elementary school, rather than remodel the existing aging school.
Officials say the decision to rebuild the school -- rather than remodel -- was made after a detailed analysis of educational impact and safety; parent, staff and neighbor preference; budgetary constraints; at-large patron preference; as well as preservation, environmental and outdoor opportunities and limitations.
“Survey results from more than 600 community members showed overwhelming support (68%) from Highlands parents, staff and neighbors for a new school, with 82% of Highlands parents supporting a new school. Budgetary constraints were also a key factor. A remodel would have required an additional 6,000 square feet of space to meet similar educational and safety standards as a new school. This would have driven costs well above what the District’s Board of Trustees and taxpayers approved during the March 14, 2017 bond election,” said Boise School District spokesman Dan Hollar in a news release.
“A new Highlands Elementary school is the best fit, educationally, economically and environmentally for our students and the school’s parents, staff and neighbors,” said Dr. Don Coberly, Superintendent of Boise School District. “With the needs of our primary constituencies now met, we look forward to designing a school that may incorporate many of the amenities requested by the public at large.”
The District will now move into the design phase of the new Highlands school.
The design phase will continue through August.
Several features suggested by remodel and preservation proponents, as well as neighbors, will be included as site plans develop, Hollar pointed out. They include:
•Preservation and/or reclamation of unique structural and architectural components
•Maximization of play area and green space
•Public access to open space/green space
•Compatibility with neighborhood culture and design
•Traffic mitigation during construction
The current school, built in 1961, was rated as the second-worst elementary school during the 2016 Facilities Audit.