Education

In March, Kuna voters said ‘yes’ to a new high school. Here’s where it will be built.

Students stream into Kuna Middle School. The town’s growth is part of the reason the school district sought a bond in March for building expansion.
Students stream into Kuna Middle School. The town’s growth is part of the reason the school district sought a bond in March for building expansion. kjones@idahostatesman.com

Last spring, Kuna residents voted in favor of a bond to build a new high school. On Wednesday, the Kuna School District unveiled where that school will be built.

In March, voters barely passed a $40 million bond — $26 million of which foots the bill to build the new school, including land acquisition. That building will sit on a 60-acre parcel of land on the northeast corner of Columbia and Linder Roads that the district purchased for $1.5 million.

District spokesman David Reinhart said it will cost another $500,000 to make the newly purchased land usable, including running sewer and water lines and widening roads.

Kuna School District officials said the new high school will be ready in 2020. The changes can’t come soon enough: Local schools are bursting at the seams thanks to a boom in population growth over the past decade.

“The current high school will be approximately 200 students over capacity this year and so our need is profound,” Superintendent Wendy Johnson said in a district press release.

Whether more bonds will be on the table in the future isn’t yet clear, Reinhart said.

Kuna School District bought this 60-acre parcel where it will build its new high school, district officials announced in February 2018. Expected to open in 2020, the school will alleviate student overcrowding.

“This (new high school) addresses where we’re at right now,” he said. “But if (population growth) continues the way it’s going, we’ll have to go back to voters in three or four years when we assess that need.”

Though several plots of land were considered, the district’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to purchase the Columbia/Linder parcel.

“(A committee of engineers, planners and local citizens) considered several tracts of land, including two owned by Kuna School District, as possible sites for the new high school,” according to a school district press release.

The committee wanted a site that would be available for construction within two years, have a minimum of 60 acres and be ideal for Kuna’s growing population.

Those requirements disqualified two existing parcels already owned by the district, according to the release.

“The land donated in December of 2015 will likely have a school built on it in the future. It was not chosen for the new high school because of the time and money it will take to make it usable,” the release said.

Where the Columbia/Linder parcel can be prepped for construction starting next summer, road changes and rerouting of irrigation canals would have pushed construction back four years on the existing district property, officials said. Those changes would’ve cost $5 million.

Nicole Blanchard: 208-377-6410, @NMBlanchard

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