Five years after voters overwhelmingly approved a school requirement, plans are underway for a new elementary school in the Harris Ranch community in southeast Boise.
Boise School District officials gathered this week to celebrate the donation of the land that will soon serve as the site of Dallas Harris Elementary School. About 3 acres of land, valued at around $2 million, was donated by the family of Dallas Harris, a landowner who created a master plan in 1976 to develop the area.
The new school is part of a $172.5 million bond approved by Boise voters with 86% support in 2017. The district hopes to open the school this spring and welcome its first class in fall 2023. .
The school, which will accommodate approximately 500 children from kindergarten through sixth grade, will help alleviate overcrowding in Riverside, Adams and other nearby elementary schools. It will be the first new school the district has added since 2008, when the district built Morley Nelson and Grace Jordan Elementary Schools, spokesperson Dan Hollar said.
“We don’t often get the opportunity to build new schools,” council chairman Dave Wagers said at the event. “It’s so wonderful that we can build a new school in a neighborhood that didn’t exist in a neighborhood where people want to live.”
Millie Davis, the daughter of Dallas Harris, said the goal was to instil a sense of community in the area. Although her father did not attend secondary school, he understood the importance of education, she said.
Davis said the Harris family was committed from day one to donating a site to the Boise School District in honor of her parents.
“We are committed to donating a school site because it’s good for the kids, the community and it’s what our father wanted,” she said.
During the event, Davis also unveiled a bronze relief of Dallas Harris that she says will be included in the school’s exterior design.
District making progress on capital projects
During a presentation earlier this week, Deputy Superintendent Lisa Roberts said about 85% of the district’s capital project slate and about 75% of its bond maintenance project slate have been completed. The district had a 10-year timeline for the bond, which helped fund facility improvements and major construction projects at schools in the district.
This included rebuilding several schools on their current sites and renovating or adding additions to eight schools. The district also upgraded HVAC systems and replaced roofs and flooring.
Still, she expressed some concerns about upcoming costs and spoke of the benefits of the district being ahead of schedule on its projects.
“We’re really concerned about getting the products we need for the projects we have left and the cost,” she said. “We are seeing astronomical prices. … That’s why we keep moving forward.