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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 30 - May 6, 2003


School to be ‘Community Campus’

Education and recreation
combine under one roof

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 success.

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 construction.

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 Crofts.

For her part, CSI Program Coordinator Joan Davies said it has been a pleasure to be part of a forward thinking, positive grassroots endeavor.

"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 group’s offerings.

"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 said.

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 overall building.

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.


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