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There is no state in America better for public school innovators to operate and serve families and children than Idaho. This past year saw the continued growth of families choosing to have their children attend an Idaho school of choice, be it a public charter school, an open enrollment school, a virtual school, a learning society or a district magnet school. According to data released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in December 2023 Idaho saw a 17.06% increase in its public charter school enrollment from School Year 2019-20 to 2022-23.

Bluum tried to do its part in 2023 to help in this growth by working with partners and allies like the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, the federal Charter School Program GrantBuilding Hope, the Charter School Growth Fund and other partners in Idaho and outside to support the planning, development, and/or launch of GEM Prep Twin Falls, Promise Academy (Idaho Youth Ranch), Idaho Novus Classical Academy and Elevate Academy Idaho Falls. We supported the American Classical Schools of Idaho in bringing on veteran educator Jacob Francom as our 24th Idaho New School Fellow.

We also recruited to our team three new talents to serve and support our school partners. Mike Caldwell is a veteran Idaho educator who most recently served as principal of Bishop Kelly High School in Boise. Mike is now Bluum’s Director of Academic Development and District Outreach. Sarah Meskin joins Bluum as our Director of Communications and she came to us as a recent Business Administration graduate from Boise State University. Our finance team added Cory Campbell as Finance and Operations Manager. Cory comes to Bluum with 15 years’ experience in budget and finance from various industries. My colleagues and I are excited about the talent and experience these three bring to Bluum and to our efforts with school allies.

Bluum continued to grow and serve our outstanding school partners in 2023. We are blessed to work with an impressive group of educators across Idaho who share our belief in the power of education to change the lives of children and young people for the better. Thank you school partners for your hard work, struggles and sacrifice to do the best you can for your children and families day in and day out. You inspire us at Bluum. None of the work we and our school partners did in 2023 would have been possible without the continued support and encouragement of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Their faith and commitment to our collective efforts is staggering.

We are excited about 2024 and hope you find the time to give a quick read of our 2023 Annual Report. Let us know if you have any ideas for what Bluum can or should do better or smarter in 2024.



Building Hope
Charter School Growth Fund
National Alliance Public Charter Schools
Excel in Ed
Pie Network
Idaho Housing and Finance Association
Newschools Venture Fund
Piper Sandler
Raymond James
Department of Education
Idaho State Board of Education
Idaho Department of Education



New Seats | Grades K-12


New Statewide Seats | Residentially-based



New Seats at Full Enrollment | Grades K-12


New Seats at Full Enrollment | Grades 6-12
Combined Number of New Seats


From the rolling farmland of the Palouse Prairie to the far reaches of forested mountains, Bluum has supported 40 schools since 2014 in varied communities throughout our great state.



There are three primary reasons for this work with a nationally-normed assessment. First, provide real-time assessment data for school improvement supports from in-school academic teams and/or from Bluum. Second, provide a snapshot for Bluum, JKAF, and other interested partners on how our portfolio of school partners are performing academically and alert us to challenges and/or opportunities. Third, provide evidence to facility financing partners and lenders that the schools they invest in are truly helping students learn.

In summary for spring 2022 to spring 2023, 75 percent of students in Bluum partner schools had achievement and high growth; no schools had both low achievement and low growth. Forty-three percent of students in Bluum partner schools scored in the top quartile, a larger proportion than is typical nationally (25 percent). Fourty-five percent of students scored in the middle two quartiles of performance, a typical proportion nationally is 50 percent. Twelve percent scored in the lowest quartile, a smaller portion that is typical nationally (25 percent).

Despite the impact of COVID on student learning, Idaho public charter school performance remains high compared to the performance of students in Idaho’s traditional schools, and in 2022 they were some of the highest performing students in the nation across grades and subjects tested.

For further NAEP data see:


Bluum’s Secret Sauce is in our ability to attract and recruit our nation’s best talent committed to Idaho’s students and families.

In 2023, Bluum added three new members to our team. Veteran Idaho educator Mike Caldwell joined Bluum as Director of Academic Development and District Outreach. Mike has over 25 years of service in education and has served as a teacher, administrator, and program director. He recently served as the principal of Bishop Kelly High School in Boise from 2014 to 2023. Prior to Bishop Kelly, Mike was a member of the executive team at the Idaho Digital Learning Alliance where he served as Director of Development from 2008 to 2014. Mike grew up in a small rural Idaho town and has established himself as a prominent and well-respected forward thinker, innovator, and problem solver.

Sarah Meskin also joined the Bluum team as the Director of Communications. Sarah earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration along with double minors in Nonprofit Management and Human Resources at Boise State University. She was born and raised in Danville, California, where she spent many of her younger years volunteering for several educational nonprofits through the National Charity League. During her time at Boise State University, she worked with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a philanthropic coordinator.

Cory Campbell joined Bluum as the Finance & Operations Manager. He comes with 15 years’ experience in budget and finance from various industries including healthcare, federal civil service (Military), and Real Estate Mortgages. He attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University, earning his bachelors in Business Management. Cory has always had a heart for kids and education as he is the son of a retired school teacher.


Dr. Jacob Francom is our newest fellow, a first-rate educator coming from Montana. Dr. Francom will serve as the founding principal of the North Idaho Classical Academy (NICA) in Bonners Ferry, which is expected to open in 2025. NICA is part of the American Classical Schools-Idaho (ACS-I) network, aligned with Hillsdale College’s Barney Charter School Initiative (BCSI). NICA, at full-enrollment, will serve 360 K-12 Idaho students.

Dr. Francom brings a wealth of experience to NICA, with his previous work educating at-risk youth in a Montana school. He received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Montana in 2009 and his Master of Arts in Russian from the University of Arizona in 2006. He has actively contributed to multiple accrediting bodies’ boards, allowing him to conduct international professional development and accreditation visits for the past decade. This diverse exposure to global education systems equips him to connect with NICA’s curriculum and establish a successful learning environment for his students.

In Montana, Dr. Francom also held the position of the longest-standing superintendent in his region. During his career, he has been awarded Montana Educational Leader of the Year and Montana Principal of the Year. His decision to take the helm at NICA surprised many who know of his outstanding service to students in Montana. His strong belief in classical models of education like ACS-I and BCSI led him to collaborate with Idaho New School Fellow alumni Stephen Lambert, Clinton Condra, Vincent Kane, and Bruce Sims to learn the intricacies of launching a Classical Academy charter school in the Gem State. Classical academies, known for their emphasis on character education, deeply integrate virtues into the curriculum and culture, which is mainly why he decided to transition towards taking part in the development of NICA.


In 2023, The US Department of Education (USDOE) Awarded Bluum a $24.8 million Federal Charter School (CSP) Grant. This highly competitive grant builds on Bluum’s previous $22 million CSP grant experience; which wrapped up in September after five years with the creation of 28 new public charter schools, three expansions, and almost 11,500 new student seats. 

Building on Success for Future Excellence (2023-2028) expands on the successes, systems, and lessons learned from Idaho’s previous CSP grant award. We seek to continue expanding opportunities for Gem State students to attend excellent public charter schools that meet and exceed state academic standards for all students. Critically important to the success of our efforts is the continuing and ongoing support of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Other key partners in this effort include the Idaho State Department of Education, the Idaho State Board of Education and the Idaho Public Charter School Commission.

Our Building on Success for Future Excellence grant has three primary objectives:

  • Increase the number of quality Idaho charter school seats by no less than 5,900 students, especially for our most educationally disadvantaged and rural students through start-up, replication or expansion;
  • Support quality authorizing in Idaho while disseminating and supporting best authorizer practices statewide; and
  • Evaluate and disseminate widely the successes and lessons of high-quality charter schools to impact the broader education system.
*as of December 2023*


This report highlights the successes and challenges in expanding and innovating Idaho’s charter school sector. Despite positive efforts, rapid population growth poses complex challenges in providing quality public school choice seats for K-12 students. Drawing on over 25 years of charter school experience in three Western States, the report shares insights from interviews with experts and data analysis, offering lessons learned and areas for improvement. Commissioned by Bluum in Idaho, the Colorado League of Charter Schools, and Excellent Schools New Mexico, the report focuses on enhancing education for students and families.


As Future Public School marks its 5th anniversary, we reflect on the school’s journey and the formation of key partnerships. We dive into the deliberate efforts of the team to establish an intentional culture that withstood the challenges posed by COVID.

Additionally, we explore the vision for the future. We take immense pride in Idaho New School Fellow Amanda Cox and her team, celebrating all that they have accomplished throughout the years.


This study dives into the interdependence of Idaho’s success and that of its Hispanic families in economic, social, and educational aspects. Building on the insights from the 2016 study, “Hispanic Parents Speak Out,” conducted by the same research team for Bluum, the report aims to inform Idaho’s leaders in designing policies. It provides an opportunity for leaders to listen to Hispanic parents, share their experiences with public schools, and articulate their goals for their children. The goal is to capture their voices effectively so that future policies and practices can better meet the needs of Hispanic parents and children in Idaho.