In the Classroom

Could West Ada high school expansion take wings?

Mountain View High School could still face overcrowded conditions, even if boundary changes move students to other schools.
Mountain View High School could still face overcrowded conditions, even if boundary changes move students to other schools. Idaho Statesman

West Ada School District trustees wondered aloud Tuesday night whether expanding overcrowded high schools might be a plausible way to get more room for students without going to the voters immediately for a bond to build a $60 million building.

Proposed boundary changes will leave four of five West Ada high schools at or above capacity. The worst cases are Mountain View High School, with 350 too many students, and Rocky Mountain High School, which would be 388 over capacity.

Those numbers prompted many parents to say that attendance zone decisions should be tied to building a new 1,800-student high school, possibly around Interstate 84 in the west side of the district.

Trustee Mike Vuittonet worries that voters could get bond fatigue, though. They just approved $96 million in March for construction of three new schools and expansion of Meridian High School.

“I have concerns about passing a bond after just passing a huge bond,” said Vuittonet.

Even if a bond passed, completing a high school could be three to five years away.

Adding wings to Mountain View and Rocky Mountain has been discussed before, but never brought as a recommendation to the board, Vuittonet said.

A wing at Rocky Mountain would cost an estimated $5 million. At Mountain View, it would cost about $7 million, in part because the cafeteria would have to be expanded, said Eric Exline, district spokesman. Each wing could have room for about 600 students.

It’s conceivable that expansion dollars could come from the $20 million plant facilities levy the district gets from taxpayers each year for maintaining and improving buildings. Some of that money has been used to renovate and expand Meridian High. Trustees are considering using $5 million to construct a building for Pathway Middle School, now housed in portable buildings.

Trustees stopped far short of saying they prefer expansion, and Vuittonet said he would want a long-term plan for dealing with overcrowded high schools before deciding on a short-term solution.

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