by Shelbie Harris, Idaho State Journal
The Sears store at the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck closed its doors in 2014 — the same year one local public charter school, Gem Prep Pocatello, opened its own.
Now four years later, Gem Prep has plans to move from its current location on Jessie Clark Lane behind O.K. Ward Park in Pocatello into the Pine Ridge Mall where Sears was formerly located. The move will allow the school to eventually more than triple its current enrollment numbers.
“Not many people know where we are or who we are,” said Gerald Love, Gem Prep Pocatello principal. “But one day we knew we would fix that and this move is a win-win to me. We see it as an opportunity to grow and to also be good neighbors while increasing the foot-traffic at the mall.”
The school will stay at its current location for one more school year, serving students in kindergarten through sixth grade. As long as the relocation is approved by the Chubbuck City Council following a public hearing on the move on June 12 at 7 p.m. at Chubbuck City Hall, Gem Prep plans to move into the Pine Ridge Mall in June 2019.
The move will occur just in time to facilitate the addition of its secondary education program, which will add grades seven and eight. Eventually the school will also add grades nine through 12.
“People are often surprised to find us nestled away in our current location behind the park,” said Love, adding that the new location will have greater visibility in the community and will provide the vast majority of current families easier access to the school.”