School to be ‘Community Campus’
Education and recreation
combine under one roof
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
The logo for Blaine County’s new
Hailey-based "Community Campus" includes three mountains side-by-side in green,
gold and blue. The mountains represent the endeavor’s three primary partners and
the side-by-side commitment they are bringing to the project’s anticipated
By fall, if agency budgets and planning
and zoning approvals come through, the first stages of the old Wood River High
School’s conversion to a diverse community center should be complete.
The high school facilities will give way
to college classrooms, community recreation amenities, a teen social center, an
Internet cafe and the Blaine County School District’s Academies Program, to name
a few of the anticipated uses.
The proximity of the new high school to
the Community Campus, 50 feet away, will also allow students at the new school
to use the old school’s auditorium and attend the academies. They’ll be designed
to provide students with real-world experience in occupations varying from
information technology and performing arts to teaching and residential
The project’s three partners—the Blaine
County Recreation District, the Blaine County School District and the College of
Southern Idaho—should be able to move in by fall, if everything goes as planned.
"It’s our first opportunity to have a
building to bring together all the programs we offer, plus all the programs that
are offered in other areas, to provide incredible opportunities for adults and
kids," said Blaine County Recreation District Executive Director Mary Austin
For her part, CSI Program Coordinator Joan
Davies said it has been a pleasure to be part of a forward thinking, positive
"This has been the most wonderful
process," she said. "We’re coming together to provide these diverse facilities
for the entire community."
The process was spearheaded by Blaine
County School District Superintendent Jim Lewis, and has included more than two
years of planning and discussions among the three partners. Academies Program
Director Stacy Smith said the pairing of the three entities will enhance each
"This is going to be incredible, because,
while we run the academies by day, CSI will be running courses by night," Smith
said. "CSI and the Academies are going to be a tightly working unit."
CSI’s Hailey campus was founded 18 years
ago in a horse trailer parked in downtown Hailey, and the new location will
offer roughly twice the amount of space the college is now leasing from the city
of Hailey. The additional classrooms and office space could help build the
foundation needed to expand the college’s programs.
But "these things happen in small
increments, sometimes," Davies cautioned. "We don’t want to give the impression
that it will expand overnight."
Davies said CSI’s new facilities will
include two, two-way interactive distance learning facilities that will enable
the school to offer some graduate-level courses.
"We will have the ability to double our
program," Davies said.
For the Blaine County Recreation District,
the Community Campus will mean an ability to consolidate programs and office
space under one roof and meet a growing need for recreation facilities
throughout the Wood River Valley.
The Recreation District anticipates
serving 350 or more local youth every day at the facility, plus accommodating
its approximately 300 youth camp participants in the summer.
"We will include as many programs as we
possibly can provide to fill those facilities for the public," Austin Crofts
Crofts said the youth activity center
planned for the building will be the first in the Wood River Valley that will be
publicly owned and "totally planned by the kids."
For the Recreation District’s share, the
first year preliminary budget shows that revenues will not cover expenses, and
the center will post a financial loss of roughly $63,000 on a $184,700 budget.
The budget will be the topic of an anticipated spring meeting of the
organization’s board of directors.
However, "it is anticipated through
careful study of additional community program needs, fund-raising and other
support that the center can post a break-even budget after the first year,"
according to an informational flyer supplied by the Recreation District.
Of the old high school’s 92,500 square
feet, the School District and Recreation District will occupy roughly 37 percent
each, and CSI will occupy about 25 percent. Building maintenance, utilities and
capital improvements will be split according to each entity’s slice of the
According to a nearly $300,000 preliminary
first-year budget, the School District will chip in $110,125, while the
Recreation District will pay $73,811. CSI will contribute $112,259.