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For the week of January 31 through February 6, 2001

Itís official: high school land purchased

Community school also expanding


By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer

If Jim Lewis, superintendent of the Blaine Count School District, appeared relieved last week, it was for good reason.

After the districtís successful campaign last year to get a $40 million tax levy passed for school construction projects, the public watched while the district struggled to acquire land for its first major project, a new, 160,000-square-foot high school.

Friday morning, Lewis, district employees and Boise architect Dave Davies announced the district had finally purchased 11.7 acres adjacent to the existing Wood River High School from landowners Stoney Burke and Fred Judd. The district purchased another adjacent 3.5 acres from Hailey landowner LaRue Tingey, bringing the districtís land holdings in that area to 52 acres.

The purchase allows the district to stay on schedule for a planned opening for the 2003-2004 school year.

Plans call for the new 1,000- to 1,200-student high school to be built about 70 feet north of Wood River High School, a building where nearly all the districtís high school students are enrolled.

The arrangement would create a "campus situation," Lewis said, that would benefit students walking between the new building and the existing building, which the district plans to convert into a community center shared by the district, the College of Southern Idaho and the Blaine County Recreation District.

The buildingsí proximity would also allow students at the new school to use the old schoolís auditorium and attend academies at the old school. Academies provide students with real-world experience in a variety of occupations.

The existing high schoolís football field would be moved north to make room for construction. Plans call for additional practice fields to be constructed northwest of the new school. Tennis courts, something the existing high school does not have, are also in the works.

Drawings call for parking to be divided into three sections of about 100 cars each, to avoid creating a "sea of parking," Lewis said.

During special events, the new fields may be also used for parking to prevent people from leaving their cars along the adjacent Fox Acres Road.

"We tried to take community concerns into consideration," Lewis said, not only with parking, but by planning to leave open space adjacent to Deerfield and by not planning a back entry to the new school from Deerfield.

Plans for the actual building are still in the conceptual stage. No architectural drawings exist yet, but district planners are working with Boise architect Dave Davies to create a food court, media center, office space, classrooms and a gymnasium.

Lewis said district planners are considering soliciting donations to build a civic auditorium on the campus to be shared by the public and the school. That arrangement would allow the district and the community to share costs.

Schematic designs and exterior elevations of the building may be available in April.

Construction, projected to take 17 months, may begin this year after the football season ends or as early as this summer.

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The Community School, a private school in Sun Valley with kindergarten through 12th grades, also has begun planning an expansion to the nearby Sagewillow property in Elkhorn.

School spokeswoman Gina Poole said Tuesday the school has hired a civil engineer as project manager.

She said the school would like to move its pre-kindergarten through 5th grade classes to the new location, which would create room for a new science and technology facility at the existing Trail Creek location.

Poole said plans call for the expansion to be completed for a 2003 school year opening.

The proposed building arrangement would create a "campus situation," superintendent Jim Lewis said, which would benefit students walking between the new building and the existing building. The district plans to convert the old school into a community center shared by the district, the College of Southern Idaho and the Blaine County Recreation District.

 

 

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