Thousands head back to class in Idaho Falls schools

Jeighdon Taylor, 5, of Idaho Falls, writes his name on a cutout of his hand during a back-to-school scavenger hunt Tuesday at Edgemont Gardens Elementary School. Parents were asked to stay with their child on the first day to help familiarize them with the school. Makenzie Robinson, Jeighdon’s mother, supported the idea. “The first day is a little intimidating, so I’m glad I get to stay here with him,” she said. Pat Sutphin /

It was so long, sweet summer, hello homework, as thousands of Idaho Falls area students zipped up their backpacks and boarded the big yellow bus this week for the first day of school.

“She’s been pretty excited,” Idaho Falls parent Luke Evans said.

His 5-year-old daughter, Tori, started kindergarten Tuesday at Edgemont Gardens Elementary School.

“She’s been asking about it a lot, she’s ready and she really wants to go,” Evans said.

Most Idaho Falls School District 91 and Bonneville Joint School District 93 students started school Tuesday. District 93 upper-grade level high schoolers, as well as 10th- through 12th-graders at Compass Academy, Skyline and Idaho Falls high schools began classes Wednesday.

Longfellow Elementary students start school Sept. 9. The delay was needed to allow crews time to finish construction work around the school site.

For about 548 Edgemont students, the first day was particularly awesome. They started classes in a brand new 71,000-square-foot building, one of four new elementary buildings funded with money from a $53 million bond approved in 2012.

“It’s really exciting,” Principal Dave Webster said. “The kids are loving it, their faces are lit up, they just think it’s amazing. It’s been a little bit chaotic, the facility is huge and there are a few quirks we have to work out since we’re so used to the system of the old school. But I think it’s going to be awesome.”

District 91 enrollment numbers won’t be available until next week, spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne said, but elementary enrollment appears to be up from last year.

About 11,700 District 93 students started school this week — up from last year when that number was about 11,150. Accommodating growth and easing overcrowding is the hot-button issue District 93 officials plan to address in the new year.

Officials put together a facility planning committee, comprised of about 50 to 60 community members. The committee includes both those who were supportive and opposed to the $92 million bond patrons rejected in March, said Scott Woolstenhulme, District 93 director of school improvement and technology.

The bond would have funded construction of a new middle school and high school. The committee will meet for the first time Sept. 17 to discuss new possibilities for solving the growth challenge.

“School got off to a great start,” Woolstenhulme said. “We didn’t have any issues with transportation or missing kids, so everyone ended up in the right seat with the right teacher. But we definitely have large enrollments. We’re adding teachers as we speak … so we’ve really grown significantly.”

Reporter Kirsten Johnson can be reached at 542-6757.

Reporter Kirsten Johnson can be reached at 542-6757.