From Idaho Press-Tribune | By Alx George
NAMPA — Gem Prep Charter School is getting ready to open its doors in Nampa this August.
The Nampa school district in October unanimously approved the school to be under advisory of the district.
Since then, Gem Prep has worked to secure a building and solidify a student population. The building, though, is still being determined.
Gem Prep Innovation Schools, which began in Pocatello, focuses on blended learning through an adaptive curriculum. Tara Bastian, spokeswoman for Gem Prep, describes this as focusing on student growth through large and small group interaction as well as addressing each student’s individual academic needs. Gem Prep relies on face-to-face interaction with a teacher as well as technological resources.
By making sure students have group and individual study and work time, students will meet state standards for their grade level and have the ability to keep growing in areas where they either aren’t at their grade level or have gone above it.
Gem Prep is accepting students in kindergarten through fourth grade for the Nampa school.
A lottery for grades K-2 will be open until today, and the drawing is expected to happen Monday. Jason Bransford, Gem Prep director, said there is no lottery for third and fourth grades, because he expects student capacity will get close to full but not exceed it.
“We feel the personalized instruction will be really beneficial to Nampa,” Bransford said. “We are about helping students being successful and that’s the bottom line of why we’re doing this.”
The school is expected to serve 250 students when it opens.
Bransford said a location has been selected and a contract is developing, but information won’t be released until later this month when details are confirmed.
Gem Prep initially looked at an industrial building on Cherry Lane and Madison Avenue but received feedback from Nampa Mayor Bob Henry that the building would be better suited for a manufacturing company. Eventually, Crossroads Community Church purchased the building, with plans to move from its current location on East Amity Avenue in Nampa.
Gem Prep also considered purchasing the current location of Crossroads Community Church but backed out partway through negotiations.
At their October meeting, Nampa school board members heard parental support for why the school should open in Nampa.
Parent Michelle Martinez said Gem Prep would increase the district’s school offerings.
“I want to be able to say we have some great schools in Nampa,” Martinez said at the time. “I think Gem Prep will fill that gap we have. It will have a lot more computer-centered learning. We are offering so much, our district is just growing, and Gem Prep would be a great addition to that.”