TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls School District will buy 58.7 acres of land that could be used for a future high school site.
The school board voted Monday night to approve the $520,000 purchase, about $9,000 per acre, for a parcel at Blue Lakes Boulevard South and 3600 North in south Twin Falls. Trustees Paul McClintock and Bryan Matsuoka were absent.
Student numbers continue to grow and the school district is planning for the future, particularly with more homes under construction and planned subdivisions in south Twin Falls.
“This site could serve as a potential site for a future high school,” Superintendent Brady Dickinson told trustees, but that would likely be 10-12 years from now. Or the school district could use the property to acquire a different parcel, he said.
The school district will also need to look at finding land in south Twin Falls for a potential elementary school, Dickinson said.
The Twin Falls School District has opened three new schools in the past two years — South Hills Middle School in 2017, and Rock Creek and Pillar Falls elementary schools in 2016 — in order to handle enrollment growth and alleviate school overcrowding.
The bulk of the money for the Blue Lakes Boulevard South land purchase will come from a payback from a private developer who benefited from school district infrastructure near Pillar Falls Elementary School and owes the school district, said school district director of operations Ryan Bowman.
Of the purchase price, the remaining $113,487 will come from a voter-approved plant facilities levy.
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An appraisal shows the market value of the property is $530,000. When the school district bought land to build South Hills Middle School, it paid about $18,000 per acre, twice as much as the land it’s buying now.
“It’s a great location with a good price,” Bowman said, adding the owners live out of town and are motivated to sell.
The land couldn’t be developed today, Dickinson said, but could most likely be developed within the next five years and definitely in 10 years with new infrastructure likely to go in.
“Again, it’s a good investment,” he said. “It meets the needs of the district going forward.”
During their meeting, trustees also:
- Heard a 2018-19 preliminary budget presentation. The budget includes 9 ½ additional job positions, fiscal affairs director Bob Seaman said. They’re not all new positions because some of them weren’t filled this year. Some of the biggest expenditure concerns are a negative short-term operating food service budget due to families who haven’t paid for school meals, and special education expenditures. The school district spends about $600,000 more for services such as occupational and physical therapy for students in need than what it generates through Medicaid billing.
- Awarded a $208,928 bid to Thomas D. Robison Roofing, Inc. to replace Bickel Elementary School’s roof. Money will come from a plant facilities levy. The company has done several other projects for the Twin Falls School District in the past, including roofing at Twin Falls High School, and have done a good job, Bowman said. It will take about 10 to 12 weeks to complete the project. The school district saved money because Thomas D. Robison Roofing can do asbestos abatement when the old roof is removed, Dickinson said.
- After a public hearing, approved school meal prices for next school year. The main change: The Twin Falls School District will no longer offer free breakfast for all students because it’s no longer cost-effective because the district doesn’t qualify anymore for a federal provision that provides funding for the program. Next school year, breakfast will cost $1.50 for elementary schoolers and $1.75 for middle schoolers and high schoolers. Lunch prices will increase anywhere from 3.1 to 3.6 percent next school year, depending on whether a student is in elementary, middle or high school. Each elementary school lunch will cost $2.85, while a middle school lunch will cost $3.10 and a high school lunch will cost $3.35. It’s unfortunate there will no longer be free breakfast, Dickinson said. Without qualifying for federal Provision 2, the school district would have to cover the cost, but can’t afford to absorb it in its general fund, he said. Students who attend schools with the Community Eligibility Provision program, though, will still receive free breakfast and lunch. And parents of students at other campuses can still apply for free or reduced-price lunches to receive assistance if they’re eligible.
- Approved a resolution to submit to the state for an average daily attendance (ADA) adjustment. The request is due to an attendance dip some weeks this school year as a result of inclement weather and/or a severe flu season. It affects the vast majority of Twin Falls school campuses. The school district gets state funding based on ADA.
- Recognized employees of the month from Twin Falls and Canyon Ridge high schools: American government teacher and head track/cross country coach Marty Grindstaff and library assistant LaDawn Farnworth from Twin Falls High, and special education teacher Sasha Anderson and administrative secretary Lesa Long from Canyon Ridge High.