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Twin Falls Needs Three New Schools

We are all excited about the growth Twin Falls has seen in the last few years but with growth comes overcrowded schools. The Twin Falls School District needs two new elementary schools and a new middle school within four years, according to a recommendation by a facilities committee and magicvalley.com

School board members heard a presentation during a Wednesday work session, but didn’t make any decisions.

In total, the proposed projects would cost $73.86 million.

A 32-member committee is recommending a bond should be taken to voters during the March 2014 election. The school board hasn’t made a decision yet. A descion may be made by October.

The committee based their recommendations on a 2 percent yearly enrollment increase for first through 12th grades by using city and county population projections

They decided on a slightly higher growth rate for kindergarten — 2.25 percent.

Enrollment in the Twin Falls School District is growing rapidly.

Schools in the Twin Falls School District range in age from Bickel Elementary (opened in 1938) to Canyon Ridge High (opened in 2009).

Two New Elementary Schools

One of the largest proposed projects is the construction of two new elementary schools, which would both open in 2016.

Each elementary school would house as many as 650 students on 10-12 acre sites. Proposed locations haven’t been decided.

The total price tag: $30.8 million – or $15.4 million for each school.

There are currently seven elementary schools in the Twin Falls School District.

Assuming there’s a 2 percent enrollment increase each year, the school district would be 950 students over capacity in its current schools by 2016.

That translates into one-and-a-half schools, Straubhar said.

Committee members looked at the option of taking classroom space away from computer labs and special programs.

But even then, elementary schools would still be over capacity by 650 students by 2016.

Trustee Bernie Jansen said taking away classroom space from special programs would be a short-sighted decision and “a wreck.”

A New Middle School is also in need.  It would have a 1,000-student capacity and would sit on a 25- to 30-acre site. It could cost about $30.8 million. The facilities committee recommends a 2017 opening.

Committee members talked about the option of adding onto Vera C. O’Leary and Robert Stuart middle schools instead, but decided against that idea.

By 2017, the current middle schools will be over capacity by 327 students.

Both High Schools need upgrades. Twin Falls High School needs a new heating/air conditioning and a new roof. Work would be done in August 2017.

Canyon Ridge High School could receive a $5.5 million new classroom building that would accommodate 480 students.

All of these propsals will impact to taxpayers. Estimates in the facilities plan show a yearly tax increase of $75 for a $150,000 residence with a homeowner’s exemption.

There would be a $169 yearly increase for a $250,000 residence, while a $250,000 business would see a $250 per year increase.

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