Career-technical charter school coming to Caldwell, set to open in 2019

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by Savannah Cardon, Idaho Press

CALDWELL — A career-technical charter school for middle and high school students is looking to open in Caldwell next year.

The proposed Elevate Academy would be a year-round public charter school focused on growing the labor pipeline for technical jobs and industry professionals.

Monica White, the school’s co-founder, said the shortage of such professionals has created a need for this type of skills-based education.

“As the Caldwell community continues to grow industrially, Elevate Academy will be a driving force in helping bring back those skills to the forefront of education,” White told the Idaho Press in an email. “Students will graduate from Elevate Academy with industry certifications and the skills needed to join to workforce and or continue their education beyond high school.”

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission unanimously approved a state charter for Elevate Academy in June. The charter school, created by White and co-founder Matt Strong, who were both administrators in the Caldwell School District, received a $1 million startup grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation in partnership with Bluum, a Boise-based nonprofit that supports the development and launch of new schools — mainly charter — in Idaho, according to Terry Ryan, CEO of Bluum.

White and Strong resigned from the Caldwell School District in 2017 and were both Bluum Idaho New School Fellows, which allows new school operators a paid full year to plan the school, finalize details and negotiate with the charter district, Ryan said.

During that year, White said she and Strong visited several businesses throughout the greater Caldwell community and traveled nationwide to research best practices.

Elevate would be not only an asset for the Caldwell community, but a model for the rest of the state, Ryan said.

“What’s going to happen with students as they go through this school is they’ll have connections to the local business community in the Caldwell area,” he said. “The workplace skills and values that new employees are expected to bring to the workplace — that’s what this school is focused on. It really is having a learning opportunity that is well aligned with the employment needs of the community.”

Elevate Academy will include pathways in culinary arts, medical arts, firefighting, criminal justice, graphic design, residential construction, metals manufacturing and business marketing.

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