(SD25 Press Release, May 9, 2023)
Pocatello—At May’s monthly work session on Tuesday, May 9, the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees received a progress report on Highland High School. The report included the clean-up and restoration efforts that have been completed or are in progress since a fire partially destroyed the majority of the school’s D-wing on Friday, April 21, 2023.
As part of its emergency response to the fire, PCSD 25 enlisted the fire damage mitigation services of Paul Davis Restoration of Idaho. The first priority included sealing and barricading dangerous areas, in addition to stabilizing the remaining structure. Working closely with members of PCSD 25’s maintenance and operations team, ongoing efforts remain focused on cleaning and restoration to return Highland High School to a functional school as quickly and efficiently as possible. The cleaning and restoration efforts have included as many as forty employees working on-site at Highland on a daily basis.
According to PCSD 25’s Director of Business, Jonathan Balls, the district is making great progress to overcome significant hurdles, including receiving a report that no asbestos or harmful substances were detected during required air and surface testing.
“As you know,” he reported to the Board, “There are still some hurdles we still have to overcome, including reconnecting utilities.”
“We’ve begun testing the power, breaker-by-breaker and line-by-line in order to avoid any additional issues,” he explained. Once power to all units is fully restored, the next phase is to move on to water and gas utilities.
The district has also engaged national and local experts and content specialists, including electrical and structural engineers, as it moves through the insurance investigation and adjustment process.
Members of Highland High School staff have been able access their classrooms and offices to retrieve personal items. Plans are in the works to return personal items to Highland learners that may have been left behind in unaffected school lockers.
“Despite some of the natural frustrations, everyone remains in really good spirits,” said Sue Pettit, Director of Secondary Education.
While the goal is to be back into the west wings of Highland’s buildings by mid-August, the timelines for returning to in-person instruction and rebuilding the classrooms and facilities lost in the fire remain under review. The PCSD 25 Board and administration understand that community members remain personally invested in the outcome of this challenge. PCSD 25 will continue to provide regular updates on plans moving forward, including the opportunity in the very near future for public input.