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Community Gets First Look at Pillar Falls Elementary

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Around 550 current elementary students in the Twin Falls School District will one day have a story to share with their posterity: that they were among the first students to attend Pillar Falls Elementary School.

“I hope you’ll tell your grandkids,” Superintendent Wiley Dobbs told students who, with their own parents and grandparents, attended an open house Tuesday at the new school.

It’s one of two new elementary schools the district is opening this year. An open house was held Monday at Rock Creek Elementary.

District officials have said the new two-story schools, plus a new middle school that will open next year, are needed because of continued community growth. Building new schools forced the district to do something that was rather challenging: shift boundaries.

“An unwritten rule is that you don’t mess with boundaries,” said Brady Dickinson, the district’s director of operations. “But when you have new schools you don’t have any choice.”

Dobbs said he’s grateful for residents who supported both the $73.8 million bond to build the new schools and the boundary changes.

“This community supports its kids,” he said.

Enrollment in the district increased by more than 9.9 percent since 2011, according to the state’s official enrollment tallies, while statewide enrollment grew by less than 2.6 percent over the same time period.

Earlier in his speech Dobbs called the district the best in Idaho, but said he was told by Mayor Shawn Barigar to amend his comments to say the “best school district in the world.” The comment was received by chuckles and cheers from the audience.

Both of the new elementary schools have capacity for about 650 students, but each will start with more than 500 students.

Nancy Murphy, who worked as vice principal at Perrine and Sawtooth elementary schools, will lead Pillar Falls as principal.

Her new school’s hallways were crowded late Tuesday afternoon as families wandered the building to see the airy classrooms, modern library, spacious lunchroom and gym, and the school’s other amenities. The scent of newness wafted through the school as students stopped to talk with teachers.

Resident Tina Mayes and her children, who stopped at a wall of photos, said she’s excited because her students already know several of the teachers who’ll be working at the new school.

Twin Falls resident Vickie Owings was at the school with her two grandchildren. They’re from Idaho Falls, but said they’d like to move to Twin Falls just to attend Pillar Falls.

Owings said she enjoyed seeing a new school in her own community.

“It’s exciting to see all the students starting in a new environment,” she said.

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