Time for an upgrade? Winter weather takes a toll on aging Boise schools

More than 50 percent of Boise School District schools are more than a half century years old. (KBOI photo)

Winter weather is taking a toll on aging schools in the Boise School District so administrators say there's a huge need for an upgrade.

The gym building of Boise High School was built in 1936 and all that wear and tear of 80 years is starting to show.

"Have you had any clay in the water recently?" asked Principal Robb Thompson, talking to students inside one classroom.

That's a question you never want to hear from the principal of a high school.

"Some of the water mains that come in here are clay and wood," Thompson said.

The repairs typically come more often in the winter months.

"I always worry about winter," Thompson said.

The heating radiators are run by an antique mechanical system, consistently costing the district money in repair costs.

Much of the interior can't handle extreme temperature changes.

"Two out of three days, we had flood from different fire sprinklers bursting during the cold months," Thompson said.

Nearly every nook and cranny shows students are having to compromise when it comes to getting an education. For example, outdated lockers for P.E. students are barely large enough to fit one backpack. Many students are forced to leave their belongings out in the open.

The gym doesn't meet regulation to hold competitions and inside the performing arts center; two rooms are used for five classes.

"Our students deserve better than this," Thompson said.

"We have a lot of 'need' in the district, this is just one example of that," says Dan Hollar, spokesman for the Boise School District.

That's why the school district is asking for a bond worth more than $170 million, on the ballot in March.

"We have about $326 million worth of deferred maintenance needs," Hollar said.

That money would go to 22 different school projects across the district, including Boise High School.

"It will literally touch every school in the district from the standpoint of facility improvements," Hollar said.

The Boise School District says this bond on the ballot in March wouldn't increase the current property tax-rate because they've reorganized debt, have low interest rates and a taxable market value.

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