The land to the west of McDermott Road and north of Ustick Road is nothing but farmland. But it could be home to the newest West Ada School District high school if the Meridian City Council says OK on Tuesday.
So far, it hasn’t.
In recent years, the largest school district in the state has grown only bigger. Four of the district’s five high schools are overcrowded: Mountain View is 428 students over capacity, and Rocky Mountain is 593 over, The Statesman previously reported.
As Meridian’s residential growth continues, there’s no sign that growth will slow. Eric Exline, spokesman for the school district, has said that West Ada will exceed 50,000 students in the next 10 years.
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But the City Council must approve. Before it can rezone the land or approve a conditional use permit, it must annex the site. The problem is that the parcel is located west of city limits and is noncontiguous with city borders.
A city Planning and Zoning Department staff report argued that the district has not adequately planned for roads that would accommodate the traffic that could inundate the area and could be inaccessible to fire trucks and police in an emergency.. And the lack of roads could pose a safety problem for students who walk or bike to school.
In its most recent report, the department recommended that the district plan add more sidewalks and roads to allow for the flow of traffic around the schools. The report also recommends that the school add a student resource officer, whose role the district would be required to fund for three years because of limited street access to the school.
To protect students, the district would be required to provide bus service even for students who live nearby until safe sidewalks and improved bicycle access are in place.
The City Council denied the district’s original application in September. When the district came back to the council in early October with a revised application, the council voted to extend public hearings through Tuesday.
Exline had told reporters that the school district hoped to have a new high school in place by fall 2020.