In the Classroom

West Ada could bump up elementary school construction to ease overcrowding

Siena Elementary School’s cafeteria gets so full at lunch time that students sometimes turn their trays sideways so they can squeeze an extra student or two on the benches at their tables.
Siena Elementary School’s cafeteria gets so full at lunch time that students sometimes turn their trays sideways so they can squeeze an extra student or two on the benches at their tables. Idaho Statesman

Crowded schools are pressuring West Ada School District to move up the opening date of a planned elementary school south of Interstate 84 by one year.

Hillsdale Elementary, which would be built in conjunction with a Treasure Valley Family YMCA and a library on Eagle Road south of Amity Road, was planned for opening in 2017. Now, less than a day after voters approved a $96 million bond for construction of three new schools, including Hillsdale, and expansion of another, school officials are hoping to get it opened by fall of 2016.

The new date would be before either the YMCA or the library is constructed, said Linda Clark, district superintendent.

West Ada has constructed and opened an elementary school in is as little as 10 months, she said.

Voters approved the bond with 71.6 percent of the vote, well above the two-thirds majority needed for passage.

Six elementaries in the district south of Interstate 84 are full or above capacity and West Ada needs a school to house the overflow, Clark said.

Siena Elementary School, 2870 E. Rome Drive in Meridian, is the most crowded. It was built for 650 students and has more than 800.

West Ada is also moving quickly on Lake Hazel Middle School, which has 1,452 in a school built for 1,000. Bids on parts of the construction are expected to be open this week.

Firm construction dates for both schools have not been set.

While West Ada wants to move ahead quickly, it could end up competing against itself and Vallivue and Melba school districts. Both districts will also be looking for contractors for schools to build with their bond money.

If bids come too quickly, it could drive up construction prices, Clark said. West Ada hasn’t finished refining its timeline for new schools. A middle school in Star is expected to open in 2018, but could go as early at 2017 and expansion of Meridian High School, to relieve overcrowding at Mountain View and Rocky Mountain high schools is expected to be done by 2018.

Clark expects bonds will be sold in May.

MELBA SCHOOL DISTRICT

Nearly three quarters of Melba School District voters approved a $9.5 million bond to replace the district’s elementary school built in the 1950s. Support — 74.5 percent of voters backed it — is the highest approval rating the district has ever received on a bond or a levy, said Andrew Grover, district superintendent.

“This bond would not have been as successful if not for the work of our entire community during the past several months,” Grover said in a statement.

Grover anticipates seeking bids for demolition of the district’s old high school and another building to make room for the new elementary school in the next couple of weeks.

Construction of the school would begin this spring or summer and is scheduled to open in August, 2016.

Bonds are expected to be sold in April.

Vallivue School District, where voters approved a $28 million bond for a new elementary school and a vocation/agricultural building for its new high school, did not return a phone call Wednesday.

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