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Nampa pursues new innovation school
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Nampa School District pursues innovation school with support from Albertson Family Foundation, Bluum

An innovative high school choice for Nampa School District students in the works for the 2017-18 school year received a major grant to fund the school’s start up costs.

Nampa School District Superintendent David Peterson will discuss the grant and the plan for the new school tentatively called “Treasure Valley Leadership Academy” at 6:30 p.m., May 10 during a work session of the Nampa Board of Trustees. The meeting will be held at the district office 619 S. Canyon St., Nampa.

                “Our vision is to create a high performing, innovative new high school for students in our community,” said Peterson. “We believe providing this high quality, personalized learning experience tied to real world issues will lead to extraordinary success for our students.”

According to Superintendent Peterson, the goal of the school is for its students to master competencies in four areas: personal academic excellence; lifelong learning and citizenship; innovative thinking and action; and transformational leadership. The core of the school’s focus will be students working on real world problems and issues in their community.

Essential to the school’s success is utilizing the new “innovation school” status that takes effect July 1.  This past session, the Legislature gave local school boards the authority to create new innovation schools that are held to high academic and performance standards but are allowed to operate independently from most state and local school district rules and regulations. 

                “It is our plan to have the completed agreement to the Idaho State Board of Education on July 1 and for our school to be among the first, if not the first, innovation school in the state,” Superintendent Peterson said.

Superintendent Peterson, district and school leaders, and partners from the Northwest Nazarene University Doceõ Center, Bluum, and state Legislature traveled to other states over several months to study innovative approaches to improving student achievement in large, high poverty districts.

In December, the district working with Bluum submitted a grant request to the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation to fund a planning year for the new school and support its first two years of operation.

In April, the Foundation notified the district it would receive $1 million in grant support over three years contingent on the school qualifying as an innovation school under the new state law.

“We appreciate the efforts of Bluum and the support of the foundation throughout this journey,” Peterson said. “Both in the research stage so we could discover what’s wildly successful in other communities and in this next step as we move to turn our vision into reality for our kids.”

                “It is exciting to help the Nampa School District break new ground with their Treasure Valley Leadership Academy,” said Bluum CEO Terry Ryan. Ryan added, “We hope this innovative effort can be a model for other districts in how to marry charter like flexibilities with the advantages of a school district’s economies of scale to better serve students and families.”

Albertson Family Foundation Executive Director and former school superintendent Roger Quarles said the grant aligns with the foundation’s vision for limitless learning.

“We are proud to support David Peterson and the universal truth that all students can learn if given the right opportunity,” said Quarles.  “We believe this will be a high performing learning model that demonstrates what is possible when we let students lead and learn by doing.  Whether it is public or private, traditional or charter, inside or outside of the classroom, our family foundation will continue to support leaders and high performing learning models that inspire a love for learning.”

After finalizing an innovation school agreement with the Board and the state, the district plans to hire a core team of leaders and teachers who would spend a year designing the school, which would open in 2017 serving about 200 ninth and tenth graders. The school would grow to serve about 600 students by 2021.