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Restoration to Highland High School coming soon with House Bill 521 signed by Gov. Little

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - It's been nearly a year ago when a portion of Highland High School was destroyed by a fire. 

Since then, Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 has been working tirelessly to raise the funds to restore the building.

A bond to help fund it failed last November, and the district was getting ready to issue a second bond in May. However, the bond will not be needed after Idaho Governor Brad Little signed House Bill 521.

"We are projected to receive about $43 million from that fund," said PCSD25 Director of Communications Courtney Fisher. "Some of those funds are funds we already expected. About $10 to $12 million will come from the lottery funds over the next ten years."

The school district plans to use the remaining balance to fund the restoration of Highland High School. They also estimate they will receive between $20 and $25 million in insurance money, which will be added to the funding the legislature provides.

The project's planning phase is expected to take six to eight months. They hope to break ground on the project in the spring of 2025.

"The school board is prioritizing restoring Highland High School to 2027 standards and looking toward the future as we rebuild and restore the facilities that were lost, but also look at other ways to improve that facility, so that it can accommodate up to 2,000 learners and really bring that up from a school that was built in 1962 to today's standards," Fisher said.

In the meantime, the students at Highland have been dealt a difficult hand, with their gym, their cafeteria and their band room completely destroyed.

Highland basketball players played a majority of their home games at Pocatello and Century all season, but that may change before a new gym arrives.

"One of the solutions we have is to add more bleachers to the auxiliary gym," Fisher said. "So, that is currently in the works so that Highland will be able to host some more athletic events.

The school district believes that hosting more events and school functions at Highland is important to maintaining the sense of connection between staff, faculty, and students.

"Our board has spent countless hours looking at this from every angle to make the best decision moving forward," Fisher said.

The school district's proposed bond will still be on the May ballot for Pocatello and Chubbuck voters. The district is encouraging the public to leave the option blank when voting.

The project is hoped to be completed in the fall of 2027.

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Cole Sams

Cole is a reporter for Local News 8.


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