Close Close Comment Creative Commons Donate Email Add Email Facebook Instagram Mastodon Facebook Messenger Mobile Nav Menu Podcast Print RSS Search Secure Twitter WhatsApp YouTube

Idaho: Help Us Show Readers and Officials Issues With Your School Building

The Idaho Statesman and ProPublica are reporting on poor conditions in school buildings. We need your stories and photos to show how the issues affect students and staff.

Many chairs stacked in a dark, unfinished space with puddles of water on the bare concrete floor.
Water seeps across the floor in the boiler room at Valley View Elementary School in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The aging school is part of the Boundary County School District. (Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman)

Leer en español.

Update, Aug. 18, 2023: This post was updated to include more information about our reporting and how people can help.

Students and educators in Idaho describe challenging conditions in schools: bats getting in through a window casing; classrooms that are “sweltering” in the fall; an HVAC unit nearly catching fire; basements flooding during heavy rain; a lack of accessible bathrooms; and, in at least two districts, coal heating systems triggering people’s asthma.

Idaho ranks last in the nation in school infrastructure spending per student, according to a state report. The Idaho Statesman and ProPublica are looking at what this means for students and educators. Through reporting the truth, we hope to improve the lives of students and Idaho communities.

So far, we’ve heard from about 80% of superintendents in the state and all shared at least one significant or major facilities issue in their districts. Educators and students have told us how these issues affect them – and how they’ve continued learning despite the challenges.

We need to hear from people in every district to do the most impactful work possible. We’re collecting photos and videos so we can show people in power what you see.

We won’t publish anything you share without reaching out first.

Note: We know not all schools have significant facilities issues. If that’s the case for your school, we’d still like to hear from you.

How to Help

  • Send us any photos or videos you can share of issues in your school. (More information below.) You can share them with us by:
  • Help us spread the word to students, educators, parents and administrators. You can share this flyer, which describes how to help, or the link to this page.
  • Tell us about issues in your school, even if you don’t have photos or videos to share. You can fill out the form at the bottom of this page.
  • Educators: If you have ideas for getting students involved, such as incorporating this into a class project, we’d love to help! Reach out to us at [email protected].

Don’t want your name used? Using full names makes our journalism more powerful. Almost all superintendents in the state have participated in our reporting by filling out a survey, as have many teachers and staff. However, we understand that some educators may not be comfortable having their names published. If that’s the case, just let us know when you share your photos or videos. We will contact you either way before publishing what you submit.

What We’re Looking for in Photos and Videos

We’re interested in photos or videos of conditions in your school that you consider distracting, unsafe or otherwise challenging for students and staff, such as:

  • The thermostat when it’s hot in your classroom.
  • Water leaking from the ceiling or roof.
  • Cracks in the walls.
  • Unsafe parking lots, street crossings, etc.
  • Exposed wiring or electrical concerns.
  • Inaccessible infrastructure or design.
  • Failing plumbing or collapsing pipes.
  • Brown or discolored water.
  • Aging, deteriorating roofs.
  • Exposed and crumbling or disturbed asbestos.

Some tips:

  • You don’t need a fancy camera — your phone camera works just fine!
  • Photos taken from multiple perspectives are best, such as one with the full context of what’s happening and a close-up in which we can clearly see the problem you’re trying to show. (See examples below.)
  • It’s best to move closer to the subject of your photo, rather than zooming in.
  • Please don’t edit, Photoshop or add filters to your photos. For journalism, we need visuals to be authentic and untouched in any way!

Here are some examples of what we’re looking for. Notice how the photos show different perspectives.

A good example of a photo description: Steve Bortz, Valley View Elementary’s head of maintenance, shines a light to show two buckets hanging inside a hallway ceiling to collect water leaking from pipes. These photos were taken on Jan. 22, 2023, by Sarah Miller of the Idaho Statesman.

Peter DiCampo, ProPublica, and Sarah Miller, Idaho Statesman, contributed reporting.

Asia Fields

Asia Fields is an engagement reporter with ProPublica.

Latest Stories from ProPublica

Current site Current page