CALDWELL — One of the fastest growing school districts in Idaho wants voter approval Tuesday for a second high school.
Today, 1,800 students pack Vallivue High School’s halls in between class periods and the cafeteria hosts 900 students per lunch period. Built in 2000, the school was designed to accommodate 1,200 students.
The 13-year-old high school, which has two portable classrooms, is the sixth largest in enrollment in the Gem State. Enrollment is expected to hit 2,200 by 2016 when a new high school could open and 2,600 by 2020.
But first voters must give the green light Tuesday for a $50 million bond — $42.5 million for a second high school and $7.5 million for future school property sites and upgrades and remodels at existing Vallivue schools. That means a super majority — or 66.7 percent of the voters — must say yes for the bond to pass.
Vallivue parent Scott Gipson chairs the Vallivue Yes Committee, a citizen’s group advocating support for the bond.
Canyon County needs an educated work force, Gipson said.
“A crowded high school makes that difficult. That could force families (out of the district),” Gipson, added. “If we are going to move forward as a valley and a community, we have got to take care of our educational facilities.”
Based on an average home value of $115,000, the bond would cost taxpayers $40 per year or $3.33 a month. The interest rate is 3.25 percent.
And if it fails, the district will be back next year, Superintendent Pat Charlton says.
Crowded hallways are one challenge, but teaching up to 40 students in a classroom is now a safety matter as well.
High school science teacher Tegan Byerly has 37 students in her freshman physical science class.
“It can be a safety hazard,” the second-year teacher said. “Experiments turn into demonstrations instead of true labs. Kids aren’t getting as hands on as I’d like.”
Byerly said even when class sizes are at 30, teachers have enough time to talk one-on-one with students.
“It’s a better connection,” said Byerly, whose class size averages 32 students.
“I feel like we’re in a pretty good place with growth and the goals of our school and vision,” she said. “But, it’s (a second high school) something that we need.”
Supporters have also pointed out that a second high school means twice the possibilities for students to participate in extracurricular activities — and in a 144-square-mile school district, it substantially reduces travel time and costs, the Vallivue Yes Committee brochure states.