Highland Pocatellos

Pocatello, Idaho, high school will reopen later this year after April fire

July 6, 2023
Classes will resume in the undamaged parts of Highland High School, but the school board has yet to decide on the long-term fate of the campus.

After an April fire heavily damaged Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho, the long-term fate of the campus is undecided, but students will be able to attend classes later this summer in the undamaged parts of the school.

Idaho Educaton News reports that the Pocatello-Chubbuck school board is still looking a three facility options for how to move forward: One, rebuild and restore Highland as a high school, and add necessary amenities like more parking. Two, purchase adjacent land to improve the high school campus. Three, convert the campus into a middle school or large elementary. This could help alleviate crowding and lead to a new high school.

At a special planning meeting, board members said the decision would be made by the community — first through a survey and eventually, with a bond election.

“A bond is the direction we’re headed,” Pocatello-Chubbuck superintendent Doug Howell said.

District officials say that power, water and gas are restored and functional at Highland High School. With cleaning finished and painting underway, undamaged parts of the building are scheduled to be in usable shape when classes begin later this year.

Though fire destroyed the school’s primary gym, Highland's small gym was only lightly damaged and should be functional by early September.

Long-term solutions are dependent on funding. Some insurance money should be available to contribute to a rebuild. Though an investigation is ongoing, the fire has been ruled accidental, and there will be some sort of reimbursement, the district says.

The rest of the finances needed to upgrade facilities will have to come from a bond issue. But that will require two-thirds supermajority support. 

The district plans to survey residents on what they think should be done. To qualify for the November election, ballot language needs to be submitted to the county by Sept. 18.

Video from KPVI-TV:

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