District History


Henry Van Slooten 1887-1909
F.G. Kraeger 1909-1911
V. Meldo Hillis 1911-1915
C.J. Brosnan 1915-1919
A.S. Erickson 1919-1921
W.F. Weisend 1921-1924
D.A. Stephenson 1924-1930
John E. Walsh 1930-1947
Fulton Gale 1947-1957
Harry C. Mills 1957-1969
Donald Ogelsby 1969-1970
Darrel Hatfield (acting) 1970-1971
Rex Engelking  1971-1981
Dr. Russell Joki 1981-1985
Dr. Stephenson Youngerman 1985-1989
Ray Reed (interim) 1989-1990
Steven Schmitz 1990-1993
Merrill Anderson (interim) 1993-1994
Gary K. Larsen  1994-2012
Dr. Tom Michaelson (interim) 2012-2013
Peter Koehler (interim) 2013-2014
David Peterson 2014-2017
Dr. Paula Kellerer 2017-2022
Dr. Gregg Russell (interim) 2022-


Most of the information contained in this history below was compiled by Mary Henshall in “A Centennial History of Schools of the State of Idaho” (1990), for the Idaho School Boards Association. 

Other information was provided by residents of the smaller school districts that combined with Nampa School District. Some information was obtained from official Board of Trustees minutes for the Nampa School District. Official minutes of NSD board meetings held since June 1898 are on file at the District Office, 619 S. Canyon St., Nampa, Idaho.

School days began in Nampa on October 3, 1887. Twenty children climbed the wooden outside steps to the second story of a frame building built by Justice of the Peace Bowman on 12th Avenue between Front and First streets. Bowman, described in the Caldwell Tribune as a “fine gentleman,” not only offered his building but also served as the teacher, though he was not qualified.

Earlier that year Alexander Duffes, Nampa's founder, had traveled from Boise to the Snake River and from the present site of Midway to the site of Kuna, and barely managed to sign up the necessary nine children to form a school district. Many heads of Nampa families were saloon keepers and gamblers who didn't care about education and didn't want the expense of a school.

In April, the first school board, which included Duffes, opened bids for a schoolhouse at a cost of $1,000. It was never built, so classes started in the Bowman building. When the new District 37 ran out of money, Duffes paid the teacher from his own pocket.

By Christmas Miss Elizabeth Thatcher, a qualified teacher, arrived from Minneapolis. Her wages of $55 a month depended on the district’s financial status; one month she received $10, another month $82.50.

The following March, an election on bonding for a $2,500 school failed with 20 no votes to 10 yes votes. On Sept. 4, the district's balance was $5.41.

In 1889, Miss Lomas was hired at a wage of $65 a month. In spring and fall she had 10-15 pupils. In winter, when there was no farm work, her 40 to 50 pupils ranged from age 4-19. 

In 1890, Duffes built a brick bank building on the corner of 11th Avenue and 1st Street (across from the old Nampa Public Library). The school moved in upstairs from the crowded Bowman Building and became a two-teacher school.

Later that year (whether or if bonds were voted on), a building was started on the site of what was later named Lakeview School. This location "way out in the country" was a very unpopular location. The November 23 Idaho Statesman's "Nampa Notes" stated in part:

"It takes a field glass to see the new school house from the depot. By some hocus pocus it is being built towards Boise. Children will have to cross the railroad tracks, cross Indian Creek, and ascend quite a hill. What's the matter with the school board?"

While it was being built, children were warned not to go near it because of rattlesnakes. Then more growing pains: there were so many unpaid bills the contractor locked up the school and refused to deliver the keys; when the brick school finally did open in fall 1892, only two downstairs rooms were finished.

It was first called Nampa School and later renamed Lakeview because of Lake Ethel, the reservoir formed for irrigation purposes. Today, Lake Ethel is the beautifully landscaped bowl of Lakeview Park.

The sagebrush around the school was so tall that girls built playhouses in it and only the tops of their heads were visible. In spring, they gathered bouquets of beautiful wildflowers.

Each room had a big pot-bellied stove. When the stoves smoked, school was dismissed while the stove pipes and chimneys were cleaned.

Before recess, each teacher sent a pupil out to the pump for a bucket of water. It was passed up and down the aisles so each child could drink out of the common tin dipper. (Mrs. George Meffan said, "We survived what today would be called unsanitary practices.”)

A bridge was built across Indian Creek for the children. Many found it more exciting to use a long ladder someone laid across the creek, stepping from rung to rung above the swirling water.

According to a clipping in an old autograph book, there were 95 children enrolled in November 1894. By December 1899, the total was 198: 37 in Mr. Hull's high school, intermediate rooms with 39 and 50, and 72 in the primary room. These busy teachers put on programs to raise money for the school's interior and for a library. Lights from bobbing lanterns flickered at night along winding paths as families walked to the schoolhouse. Approved salaries in 1899 were $85 per month for the principal and $60 per month for the teachers.

The earliest records in possession of the District indicate that a vote was held on May 17, 1898, to determine the question of whether or not District No. 37 would be established as an Independent School District. Election results were 55 yes and 2 no votes. It would be known as Independent School District No. 37, Canyon County, Idaho. The appointed Board of Trustees consisted of Lydia P. Griffith and A.K. Stoddard until the next school election; H.A. Partridge and Julins Steinmeier for two years after such election; and Mrs. Mary E. McGee and H.J. Wilterding for four years after such election.

On May 25, 1900, the first eighth-grade graduation exercises were held for five boys and seven girls who had passed the required county exams.

By the turn of the century, Lakeview was jammed with pupils. In 1900, the trustees purchased a block west of town for $450. A school was built way out in the sagebrush (the present 12th Avenue block between 5th and 6th Streets where Home Federal is located.) This typical frame one-room style country school with windows on both sides was deemed a credit to the town. In October, there were 54 pupils in the primary room - the same number as Lakeview's primary - 52 in the intermediate room, 56 in the grammar grades room, and 38 in Professor Wilson’s high school.

Mushrooming growth made it necessary the following March to hold a bond election for a new building; it passed without a single dissenting vote. Until the red brick Kenwood School was completed, the third and fourth grades met at the Presbyterian Church and others crowded into the already crowded Lakeview. The city made a sidewalk on the west side of H Street (13th Ave.) so children wouldn't have to wade through dust and mud. Classes started in the new Kenwood School in November 1901.

Today's teacher wouldn't envy the fashions worn by the turn-of-the-century school marm: long sleeves, waist nipped in with a corset, long skirts over petticoats, high button shoes, long hair piled high. Girls had long hair in braids and bows and wore mostly white dresses with long black stockings. Boys wore overalls or dressed up in below-the-knee knickers with long stockings. There were no dilemmas about which pair of shoes to wear. Most children were grateful to own one pair.

The first Nampa High graduation was held on May 28, l903, at the beautiful Dewey Palace Hotel. Nine girls graduated, each wearing a white dress she had made herself of tulle or dotted Swiss with shirred sleeves and a long train. Each graduate participated - salutatory, valedictory, essay, prophecy or oration. The program was reprinted in the first issue of Nampa High's Sage in 1910.

In 1905, three courses were added to the high school curriculum: German, an additional year of history, and bookkeeping, as well as equipment for science. Those three teachers had to be versatile! Later a choice of three courses was offered - English, Classical, and Scientific. Graduates from any of these could enter the state university without exams.

The unrelenting population boom continued. A desk was squeezed into every possible space. In 1905, there were five grade school teachers at Lakeview, and five grade school and three high school teachers at Kenwood. One of the high school teachers served as superintendent.

After inspections and much discussion, it was decided that 15-year-old Lakeview was out of date and unsafe. In April, 1906, a bond election for a new building carried, 132 for and one against.

Legal disagreements and other problems delayed construction, so classes were held in the old building while the new one was built in front of it. When nearly completed in May, it was discovered that there was no place for the bell! The board authorized $175 for a belfry above the front door. The new Lakeview was declared the "finest school building in Idaho."

A 1907 bond election for $20,000, which carried 100 for and none against, made possible a wing on Kenwood, a Lakeview heating plant, and the purchase of two school sites east and west of town. Now, Kenwood had 150 high school students in four classes. In 1909, a right wing was added to Kenwood. Substitute pay was approved at $2 per day – this was taken out of the teacher’s pay.

To keep pace with the relentless increase, in April 1910, the board authorized an election to bond $35,000 to buy a site and build a school. To their amazement, it failed. So did a second election. Much controversy and criticism followed, so the board decided there would be no bond elections for a while.

And there were none for five years. Of course, that didn't stem the tide of growth. The overflow was housed in buildings downtown, Chamber of Commerce rooms, and wherever space could be rented.

In 1913, the second floor of the Post Office was equipped for the high school. In spite of the facilities, there was a 19-piece band, a football team, and publication of the annual, The Sage.

The need for expansion was kept before the public. The Leader Herald reported that Lakeview and Kenwood were congested, and the high school needed an auditorium, a gym, study hall, and a drinking fountain. The superintendent reported that because courses of interest could not be offered, only 99 of the 142 high school students completed the year. Out of l,023 pupils in the system that first semester, failures totaled 127 with 89 conditional promotions. The cost of instruction per pupil was $23.75 and the salaries of 28 female and two male teachers was $23,632 - an average of $788 each.

Plans for a high school had been publicized since 1911. By 1915, the enrollment was 221, and the townspeople finally realized that a high school was needed. The State Superintendent said, "Such vile air, poor light and unsanitary conditions prevail in the building used. I would recommend the state board of health close it if any other building were available.”

A bond election for a high school passed in February 1916.

Costs had spiraled, construction steel as much as 200 percent, so the $60,500 allotted fell far short. Plans were trimmed and E.H. Dewey did the electric work at cost. The manual training classes made many of the fixtures.

The high school opened September 24, 1917. In 1920, a six-room annex was added, and in time a gym, machine shop and agricultural building were also added.

In December 1918, the burgeoning enrollment reached 1,881. The board inaugurated a bungalow system, one-room structures at Kenwood, Lakeview and at the sites of Eastside and Roosevelt.

Wilma Patterson, who went to Kenwood in the 1920s, relates, "There was an open ditch along 6th street where we could push each other in. In the vacant lots by the school, woodchucks dug their dens, skunks were a problem, and at night we could hear coyotes."

The task of providing for record-breaking enrollments with totally inadequate finances was a staggering one for the board and the administration. Many citizens objected to frill courses such as agriculture, athletics, debate, music and art.

A bond election for a new high school failed in 1927. Then on May 11, 1928, a bond was approved for a new concept, a junior high. After problems that wound up in the Supreme Court, Central and an addition to Lakeview were ready by mid-September, 1929.

Then the great depression descended. In September 1931, teacher salaries were cut 5 percent. With later cuts, the maximum salary with an M.A. was $1,400. Classroom loads increased. P.E. and the paper, Growl, were discontinued. To save utilities, night functions, except the junior-senior prom, were abolished. One salary per family became the rule, so all married teachers not dependent on their salaries were dismissed.

Homeroom teachers doubled as counselors. When 70 senior boys were assigned to a room with 32 bolted-down desks, they sat two to a desk with one foot in the aisle to keep balance perched on half a seat. Late-comers sat on the teacher's desk. All problems were discussed as a group. Any individual conferences were held at the door before class or after school.

Then came help from Uncle Sam - an offspring born of the depression called WPA. In 1936, WPA remodeled the high school auditorium into eight classrooms. The following year it built an auditorium for Central. A six-room school with an auditorium was built at Eastside to replace the six bungalows. A year later the auditorium had to be divided into classrooms. (In 1949 four rooms and a gym were added.)

In 1937, WPA built Roosevelt, replacing eight bungalows, some in use for over 12 years. President Roosevelt, on a Western trip, drove by in an open car to see the school. Total enrollment in the district almost reached 3,000 in 1940, but then enrollments decreased during World War II. It wasn’t until 1946 that the student enrollment passed 3,000. Average class sizes in 1949 were: First grade – 33; Second grade – 33.5; Third grade – 39; Fourth grade – 35; Fifth grade – 30; Sixth grade – 37; Seventh and eighth-grade teachers meet around 200 pupils daily.

Effective on July 27, 1948, the Independent School District

#37 became Class A School District #131. Today, the district is more commonly referred to as Nampa School District #131.

A bond for Lincoln was approved in 1949. It opened after Christmas, so modern it was called the show school of the district.

Now the board concentrated on plans for a campus-type senior high school to be located on 12th Avenue, despite objections to the location - way out in the farming and sagebrush area with only a gravel road. The original 39 acres were purchased in 1948 for $35,000. The new buildings were ready for the 1955 56 school year, the two-story classroom building, administration building, library, lunchroom - study hall, little theater. A second classroom building, a vocational building and a gym were dedicated in 1957. The high school building program represented a total outlay of $1,271,000.

The old high school became West Junior High.

In 1963, Parkview was built as an annex to Lakeview.

During the 80 years that District 37 mushroomed from 20 pupils in 1887 to 5,551 in 1967, a number of rural schools had their births, growth and demise. They began as one-room schools and in time, all consolidated with the Nampa District. Some primary and intermediate classes continued in these schools for a time.

No. 47 GREENHURST was built in 1893 on land donated by homesteader Joseph Crill. The first building was a simple one-room frame structure heated with a wood stove. A second room (and stove) was added in 1912. The brick building was constructed in 1929 for $12,000 (a large sum back then). It was a great improvement with central coal heating, indoor bathrooms and even a small bell tower. In its early years it offered eight grades in two classrooms. Greenhurst joined Nampa School District in 1961.  By 1963 it served only six grades, dropping to five grades in 1968 when all sixth grades classes were consolidated at Kenwood. In later years it was used as a kindergarten until the building was sold. The bell once used to call kids to class now serves as the "Excellence Bell" at Boise State University. 

No. 49 LONE STAR was built around the turn of the century. In 1908, the present brick building was built. It consolidated with Nampa in 1952. The building is now Donna Velvick's Hope House for handicapped children. It is currently (July 2001) up for sale since the Hope House is moving to Marsing.

No. 70 HIGHLINE opened in 1900 and joined Greenhurst by 1954.

No. 17 SCISM's first school was moved to its present location in 1909. In 1918, a new two-room, brick school was built. Lively community spirit has resulted in improvements and enlargement. In 1954, another classroom, small office, library, and restrooms were added. After Bennett School consolidated with Scism, the multi-purpose building was built. Voters rejected a 1954 motion to join with Nampa, but declining enrollments finally led to consolidation with Nampa School District on August 15, 1988. The building has been remodeled and expanded and is used for the Teen Parent program of the Nampa School District.

No. 75 BENNETT School was built in l9O9 at the intersection of Bennett and Lynwood roads. It had one room and opened with about 20 students. In 1917, a second room was added since there were now 35 students in grades 1-8. In 1958, it consolidated with Scism. The building was moved to Camp Stover, a church camp near McCall, to build a dining hall.

No. 60 SUNNY RIDGE started in 1911 with 12 pupils. Soon children were having to sit around the room on benches. When Albert Lee tried to enroll his boys, Ira Thompson, with 70 pupils, refused to take them. Mr. Lee not only found desks for his boys somewhere, he became a member of the school board. In 1918, the big red brick building was built. The first teacher taught only three months because there was no money in the treasury. The next year Addie Blakeslee taught until February with no salary. Sunny Ridge joined the Nampa district in 1953. After the new Sunny Ridge was built in 1969, the old building served as the District Administration building, then a kindergarten, then housed special education classes until it was sold.

No. 78 SOUTHSIDE BOULEVARD was carved from Greenhurst, Happy Valley, and Sunny Ridge in 1919, meeting for its first year in the Southside Boulevard Church across the road. It joined the Nampa District in 1961.

Other rural schools joined either Nampa or other districts.

Among them were Lone Tree, Orchard Ridge, Midway, and Roosevelt in Ada County.

Back to District 131. The baby boomers of the 40s were on their way, but school population boomed on. In June, 1968, Superintendent Harry Mills reported an enrollment increase of 213.

In March of that year, Leonard Fletcher, Wesley Schober, and Herman Crowther donated 10 acres as a site for the new Sunny Ridge School. Walter Opp's bid of $466,675 was accepted, and the beautiful 12-room school with its new team teaching, open classroom concept, was ready the fall of 1969.

The late 60s were a difficult era for the schools and the community. There was a diversity of opinions on how the schools should be ran and on the leadership or lack of it. Dr. Rex Engelking became the fourth superintendent in two years.

In February of 1969, four principals were given a vote of no confidence and notified by the board that they would begin teaching assignments. In October of 1970, there was a highly publicized suit involving a patron's disparaging remarks about a teacher at Sunny Ridge. It was eventually resolved in favor of the teacher.

Bill Barnard, Director of Services for the district, says, "The years of 1969 and 1970 were especially trying ones. Teacher turnover was high and teacher morale was low. Fifty-nine teachers resigned at the end of the year and 60 new ones were hired. This was on the elementary level and 33 percent on the secondary level. Student behavior reflected this unrest. The board was besieged with problems of long hair, short dresses, alcohol and drugs. The high school principal resigned. These problems were publicized statewide until our schools had a very poor image indeed. The passage of a bond levy, however, seemed to indicate that the community was ready to ‘heal its wounds’ and start a new era."

In the meantime, the perpetual growth had continued. Old West was in pathetic condition. Central was seriously overcrowded. In December 1970, two sites were purchased. After much discussion, it was decided to try for two junior highs and a bond election was scheduled for March. It passed by a vote of 3,013 to 1,335.

Many wanted to name the one on Midland after Annie Laurie Bird, Nampa historian and long time high school teacher. Part of this property, acquired from Wesley Steck, had once belonged to Miss Bird. In the end, it was named West Junior High and the one on 12th Avenue became South Junior High. Both were ready August 23, 1972. Old West was later sold to the city. The building was razed and the property became the site of the new city hall. 

Other improvements in 1972 were a kitchen at Central and the grading and asphalting of the back lot parking area at the high school. Central became a 6th-grade unit for the entire district.

In 1973, the Driver Training building was built at South. At Nampa High, a media center and the Trade and Industrial shop for classes such as auto mechanics and welding was built.

In June of 1974, a $2,400,000 bond levy made possible additional facilities at the high school and an elementary school to replace Kenwood. It was named Centennial and was ready in 1975.

Other 1975 and 1976 highlights were: A kindergarten program was authorized on May 13, 1975, a June override levy failed, and a new one passed in August. Teacher negotiations reached the fact-finding stage, then deteriorated, so there was a short strike just before the opening of school.

Old Kenwood was put up for auction in October with a minimum price of $150,000. There were no bids, so the board authorized the building to be demolished for $12,121 and the property was rezoned. Former students and teachers were saddened when old Kenwood bit the dust. In 1976, after spirited competition, the property was sold to Home Federal Savings and Loan for $228,000. "That," said Bill Barnard, “brought smiles to the faces of the school district officials."

In 1976, the Medical Center building on South Canyon was donated by the physicians and remodeled for district offices and the MERC. The MERC later moved out, but the building still serves as the district office.

Lakeview, built in 1907, had long since needed remodeling. The condition of the basement restrooms and cafeteria was deplorable. Plans for remodeling went into motion at a cost of $292,157 in the spring of 1977.

During the 1970s and 80s there were more than 15 additional construction and improvement projects from small ones like portable classrooms to major ones like the million-dollar stadium, Bulldog Bowl, at Nampa High School. In October 1985, district patrons approved a 10-year, $12.5 million dollar plant facilities levy.

A new Greenhurst Elementary School opened its doors in September of 1989. It added new classrooms to an area of the city that was growing.

A population boom hit Nampa during the 1990s, greatly impacting the Nampa School District. After two failed bond levy elections, the community finally passed a $24,850,000 bond. This paid for the construction of four new elementary schools, one new high school, and remodeling projects at other schools. Sherman, Park Ridge, and Iowa elementary schools were built using the same prototype plans; they opened in the fall of 1995.

Skyview High School and Snake River Elementary opened in the fall of 1996. East Side Elementary was used one more year – students from Central were moved to East Side. This allowed for the total gutting and remodeling of Central. Central opened as a K-6 elementary school in 1996. The East Side property was exchanged with the City of Nampa for other property and the school was demolished. The Roosevelt property was sold and that school was also demolished. The Lakeview property was sold and is being used by a private entity. Several buildings at Nampa High were remodeled and the science wing was added to the campus. Other remodeling was done at other buildings.

With these new buildings, it was thought that the district could handle the growth for a few years, but that was not the case since the growth expanded from 2 percent to over 6 percent annually. More portable classrooms were added, especially at the elementary schools, and four elementary schools went to a year-round, multi-track schedule in order to accommodate more students.

A 1998 supplemental levy was passed for $4.4 million dollars. This levy added eight classrooms to Skyview High School, six classrooms and a new cafeteria to Sunny Ridge, and four classrooms each at Park Ridge, Sherman, and Iowa elementary schools.

These additional classrooms didn’t meet the growing needs for very long. In May of 2001, district patrons approved a $39,750,000 levy for a new middle school, three new elementary schools, remodeled professional-technical facilities at Nampa High, new professional-technical facilities at Skyview High, a new gym at Centennial, and other remodeling projects.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and Owyhee elementary schools opened in the fall of 2002. The new professional-technical facilities opened in January of 2003 and East Valley Middle School opened in August of 2003.

With the continued growth of the district, patrons approved a $39,000,000 bond levy in October 2003. This bond was for a new high school, two more elementary schools, property acquisition, and renovations. After passing the bond, steel prices and other construction costs rose dramatically, so only one elementary school was built along with the high school. Willow Creek Elementary opened in August 2005; Columbia High School opened in August 2006.

Another bond was approved in October, 2005. This bond for $45,000,000 was for Endeavor Elementary, a new middle school, another elementary school, property acquisition, maintenance issues and other projects at various schools in the district. Endeavor Elementary opened in the fall of 2007 and Lone Star Middle School and Lake Ridge Elementary opened in the fall of 2008.

Patrons approved another bond in 2007. The funds were used to purchase land for future schools, renovate and upgrade Nampa High School including the construction of a new classroom building, and build the New Horizons Dual Language Elementary School, which opened in 2010.

Schools in Nampa School District


School Opened Status

Nampa School (Later West) 1892  Demolished
Kenwood School 1901  Demolished 1976
Lakeview School 1907  Sold in 1996
Nampa High School (Later West Junior High) 1917  Demolished 1973
Central Junior High School (Later Central Elementary) 1929  1929 Remodeled; Still in use
Eastside School 1937  Demolished 1997
Roosevelt School 1937  Demolished 1996
Lincoln School (Later Ridgeline Alternative) 1950  Remodeled
Nampa Senior High School 1955  
Parkview School 1963  
Sunny Ridge Elementary 1969  Closed as school in 2013
West Junior High (Changed to Middle)  1972  Replaced old West
South Junior High (Changed to Middle) 1972  
Centennial Elementary  1975  Replaced Kenwood
Greenhurst Elementary 1989  
Sherman Elementary 1995  Replaced Eastside
Park Ridge Elementary 1995  
Iowa Elementary 1995  Replaced Roosevelt
Snake River Elementary 1996  Replaced Lakeview
Skyview High School 1996  
Owyhee Elementary 2002  
Franklin D. Roosevelt Elementary 2002  
Ronald Reagan Elementary 2002  
East Valley Middle School 2003  
Willow Creek Elementary 2005  
Columbia High School 2006  
Endeavor Elementary 2007  
Lone Star Middle School 2008  
Lake Ridge Elementary 2008  
Ridgeline Alternative (old Lincoln school) 2008  
Parkview Alternative (old Parkview school) 2010 Sold in 2020
New Horizons Dual Language 2010