When 350 students at Highlands Elementary School return to class in two weeks, they won’t head to their familiar school at 3434 N. Bogus Basin Road.
Instead, they’ll hit the books nearly four miles away at the recently remodeled Fort Boise School.
The school they attended last year, built in 1961, was recently demolished, and a new school will be built in its place. The $10.4 million, 42,775-square-foot building will have 16 classrooms, four resource rooms, a gymnasium, music room, cafeteria and kitchen. It’s also meant to reduce overcrowding and improve safety and security.
Schools are being replaced or renovated across the Boise School District. Twenty construction projects are underway or were recently finished at district elementary schools, junior highs and Boise High School. The improvements are the result of a $172.5 million bond issue approved by voters in March 2017.
The Highlands replacement followed wrangling over whether to build a new school or remodel the existing building. A district survey showed that 82% of parents preferred a new building.
“The kids are excited for a new adventure away from Highlands,” Debbie Donovan, a school district area director, told the Boise City Council during a July 23 presentation.
When school begins Monday, Aug. 19, Highlands students will be bused 3 miles to Fort Boise, 300 W. Fort St. That school, built in 1950, formerly served as Fort Boise Mid High, an alternative school that closed in 2008. Since then, it has been used by students from Lowell and Roosevelt elementary schools while their schools were renovated.
Here’s what is going on with the other 19 projects:
Schools that feed into Boise High School
Boise High School
A new gymnasium, along with performing arts classrooms, instructional space and practice rooms, opened last May at the school at 1010 W. Washington St. The project also included a weight room, wrestling room and locker rooms. A few minor items are still being finished.
Hillside Junior High
HIllside, at 3536 W. Hill Road, also received a new combination gym and cafeteria. The building was located away from the main school building so it could be connected to a new building if one day the 58-year-old school is replaced on the same site.
The existing kitchen and cafeteria space was converted into classrooms, eliminating the use of portable classrooms.
Work is continuing on the school’s football field, which had to be moved to accommodate the new building. Grass turf is being added behind the building.
Taft Elementary School
Finishing work is taking place at a new combination gym, cafeteria and auditorium for the school, built in 1911 near 36th and State streets. A playground is being added too.
Washington Elementary School
The district is designing an addition and performing a light renovation on the school built in 1911 at 1607 N. 15th St.. Additional classrooms will be built to eliminate four portable buildings used in the past. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2020, with students moving to Fort Boise School during the 2020-21 school year. The school is expected to be ready for use again for the 2021-22 school year.
Whittier Elementary School
A soccer field and parking lots are being completed. A new school that replaced an older building at 301 N. 29th St. opened about halfway through the last school year. A portion of the old building is being renovated for use as a city community center. That building is expected to open in August or September.
Schools that feed into Borah High School
Amity Elementary School
The $13.9 million Amity School opened last August, replacing a building built in 1979. The school at 10000 W. Amity Road features larger classrooms, a gymnasium, and performing arts and orchestra areas.
Work is continuing on play fields and a parking lot to allow parents to drop off their children. Demolition of the old building took longer than expected, delaying work on the other projects. The play field is getting built on the site of the old school. It’s expected to be ready by the time school opens Monday, Aug. 19.
Hawthorne Elementary School
A new cafeteria and kitchen are being built for Hawthorne Elementary, at 2401 W Targee St. off South Vista Avenue. They’re not expected to be completed by the start of school but should be ready later this fall, district area director Teri Thaemert said. The school’s existing kitchen is being remodeled into a music room, and a classroom that has met in a portable room will be moved into the main building.
Hillcrest Elementary School
Hillcrest, at 2045 S. Pond St. near South Orchard street, will also receive a new kitchen and cafeteria. The building is being designed. It will also be a freestanding building that can be used for after-school activities.
Becca Anderson, a district area director, told the City Council that the district has discussed allowing the city Parks Department to use both the Jefferson and Hillcrest buildings for after-school parks activities.
Jefferson Elementary School
A new kitchen and cafeteria are being designed for Jefferson, located at 200 S. Latah St., north of Rose Hill Street. It will be a free-standing building located behind the school building. Currently, delivery trucks must drive on the school playground to reach the kitchen. The new building, with its own restrooms, will also be used for after-school activities.
Maple Grove Elementary School
A new gym and classroom wing were added to this school at 2800 S. Maple Grove Road.
The project is expected to be completed early next month and the space ready to use when school opens.
Schools that feed into Capital High School
Fairmont Junior High
Fairmont, at 2121 N. Cole Road, added a building that houses a gymnasium and cafeteria. Like Hillside, it was built away from the main building so it could be attached to a new school if one day Fairmont, built in 1964, is rebuilt at the same location.
The old kitchen and cafeteria are being converted into four classrooms, which will allow the school to remove portable classrooms.
Finishing touches are expected to be completed by the end of summer.
Koelsch Elementary School
Koelsch, at 2015 N. Curtis Road, is also having a new cafeteria and kitchen built.
“It’s going to have a garage door that opens up and allows us to bring the outside in,” Thaemert said.
And, like Hawthorne, the existing kitchen at Koelsch will become a music room. That will also allow the school to remove a portable classroom.
Mountain View Elementary School
A new school is being built at 3500 Cabarton Lane, south of Mountain View Drive and east of Capital High School. It will replace a school built in 1958 and is scheduled to be ready for the 2020-21 school year.
Pierce Park Elementary School
A replacement school is being built behind the existing school at 5015 N. Pierce Park Lane. The existing school opened in 1935, with additions in 1950, 1958 and 1975.
The new building is scheduled to be completed for the 2020-21 school year.
Valley View Elementary School
The rebuilding of Valley View is going through the city design process, following Planning and Zoning Commission approval for the project on July 1. The new building at 3555 N. Milwaukee St. will have 51,000 square feet, replacing a 43,000-square foot building that uses pods where three classrooms share walls, allowing noise from one room to go through to another.
Construction is expected to begin in February or March. Five portable classrooms will no longer be needed when the new school is completed by the time classes resume in fall 2021. Students will remain in the existing building during construction.
New school that will feed into Timberline High
Harris Ranch Elementary School
Planning for a new school at Harris Ranch in East Boise is in early discussions. Neighborhood meetings are being scheduled by the developer and its design group. Students that will go to the new school are currently attending Riverside and Adams schools.
The school will be located in the Barber Valley between Parkcenter Boulevard and Warm Springs Avenue. A timeline for construction has not yet been set.
A note on 3 elementary schools
Roosevelt, Collister and Longfellow elementary schools
Plans for improvements at those three schools will not be developed for another year or two, officials said. Roosevelt is at 908 E. Jefferson St.; Collister is at 4426 Catalpa Dr.; and Longfellow is at 1511 N. 9th St.