Pocatello High School front entrance renovation

An illustration of the first phase of renovations to Pocatello High School including Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps and a new east side main entrance. Construction on phase one is set to begin next month.

POCATELLO — School District 25 has released new drawings of what one portion of the renovations to Pocatello High School will look like if the plans are approved by the city.

The illustrations show plans to create a main entrance in the center of the school’s east side that will lead into the school’s office area. The entrance will include two ramps for students with disabilities in addition to the steps leading to what will be the school’s main east side door.

There will also be a vestibule area for student safety between the new east side main entrance and the interior doors leading to the rest of the school. Those interior doors will be locked after school starts and anyone wanting to gain entry will have to be granted access by school staff.

School District 25 officials announced in 2017 their plans to renovate Pocatello High School, a project that would include connecting the school’s two buildings. The project has run into resistance from the public with hundreds of people signing an online petition criticizing the district’s initial redesign plans for adding modern looking features to the over 100-year-old school.

The new drawings of the main east side entrance design were unveiled at last week’s School District 25 school board meeting. Also at that meeting, school board members voted to transfer $2.5 million from School District 25’s general fund to go toward the Pocatello High School renovation project. Initially, $4.5 million was set aside for the project. In January, an additional $500,000 was approved, so the total amount currently available for the project is $7.5 million.

District officials said they expect that amount to cover the cost of the entire renovation project.

The main east side entrance design has received a positive response from even those who have criticized the project and the earlier plans that included a glass walkway connecting Pocatello High School’s two buildings.

School District 25 officials said the plan remains to connect the two buildings, but how that will look is still being determined.

Steve McCurdy, who started the “Save Pocatello High School” online petition asking the district to rethink its initial Pocatello High redesign plans, said he was pleasantly surprised by the new drawings of the school’s main east side entrance design.

“They were a vast improvement over what they had originally shown, as far as the front of the main building,” said McCurdy, who now lives in Utah, but graduated from Pocatello High School. “I was happy to see that they are taking steps to make at least that portion of the building a little bit more in line with what has historically been done.”

Though McCurdy said he still believes it would be best to leave the main Pocatello High School building alone entirely, he conceded that the new designs are better than he expected.

He added that he’s now cautiously optimistic about the new designs for the rest of the project, including the high school’s instructional and commons areas. District officials said these plans are still in the “concept and design phase” and will be released later.

“This gives me hope that they’re moving in the right direction,” McCurdy said. “I have mixed emotions, but I’m somewhat pleased at the direction it’s taken in regards to what we initially had hoped.”

The main east side entrance design will be presented to the Pocatello Historic Preservation Commission at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at City Hall. City officials are then expected to decide on whether to give the main east side entrance design final approval in March. The city has final say on the design because the renovations are being done to a historic building within Pocatello city limits.

Updates to the project, including the new main east side entrance design and project timeline, can be found on the district’s website at http://www.sd25.us/Content2/current-projects.

If the city gives its approval in March, the school board expects to give its final approval to the main east side entrance portion of the project sometime in April. Construction on the entrance could begin as early as this summer.

The timeline regarding the rest of the project has not yet been set.