A long-awaited and much-needed opportunity to better serve teachers of tomorrow has presented itself: the
renovation of the University of Idaho’s College of Education building.
Constructed in 1968, the College of Education building was built during a time when the use of asbestos as an insulation and construction material was common. As more was learned about the dangers of asbestos, the building became, in essence, unrepairable. Any work on the building such as roof repair or window replacement or even minimal but critical improvements like adding power outlets for the increasing adoption of technology, was deferred due to the complexity, dangers and cost of ridding the facility of asbestos. Simultaneously, the exterior stacked rock and plaster panels which make up the outside surface of the
five-story building have been separating from the steel posts to which they are attached, exposing cracks in the joints of the windows. This deterioration and the weight of the panels have resulted in leaks at nearly every window and between every floor, none of which is repairable without extensive and cost-prohibitive asbestos abatement.
The University and the State Board of Education recently agreed that the building is a “health and life safety” concern following a structural study that revealed that the asbestos in the building will become “friable” within five to 15 years, roof and window leaks have become pervasive, while new technology has become a priority for educator preparation.
The State Commitment
Last year, the State of Idaho provided $1.2 million in outright funding to replace the exterior surface or
“skin” of the building. In June 2013, the state approved an additional $3.75 million for asbestos abatement. This is exciting and welcome news. However, there is some urgency to the project as these state funds must be committed and “in process of use” by June 2014.
The University Commitment
With this rare state funding commitment, the University of Idaho has moved quickly to line up $9.5 million in bonds to be serviced by the University. This combined $14.5 million will allow the University to remove the asbestos and “renovate” the building, with upgrades to ensure proper wiring for a 21st Century facility and to ensure the building meets current building codes. This $14.5 million project will replace the basics, leaving a building that is safe for students, but certainly not the caliber of facility we strive for – or that our students deserve.
With Your Help We Can Do More
We seek your help to ensure that the building does not just meet safety requirements – the minimum – for our College of Education, but that we create a space for which our University and those seeking to make a difference in the lives of children can take pride. Our goal is to create a sense of respect for, and excitement around, those who choose to become teachers.
Desired Features of the Enhanced Building Could Include:
Classrooms with state-of-the-art technology that has been demonstrated to improve student learning
- Larger classroom spaces that allow for student collaboration
- Classroom furniture and informal meeting spaces that facilitate collaboration among students and faculty
- Upgrades to finishing details that project an image of professionalism and value
- A foyer that celebrates teachers and teaching
- A central staircase that unites the building and our vision for the future of education in Idaho and beyond