Nampa District Approves Innovation Schools

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This post first appeared in Idaho Press-Tribune | By Alx George

NAMPA — Though still in their infancy for the state of Idaho — and not without their controversy — innovation schools are coming to Nampa.

The Nampa school district Board of Trustees approved two innovation school contractsat its Tuesday meeting. After hearing passionate testimony in support and opposition for the innovation school contracts, the board approved both contracts in a 3-1 vote.

The two innovation schools will be Union High School, an alternative school, and a new school, now called Treasure Valley Leadership Academy, which is tentatively planned to open fall 2017. Union High School is planned to become an innovation school beginning in August.

As of March 30, the Local Innovation Schools Act for Idaho allows public schools to operate outside some state and district regulations to provide a more innovative learning environment for students.

Trustee Mandy Simpson opposed, chairman Brian McGourty and trustees Bob Otten and Mike Fuller supported, and trustee Janelle Stauffer was absent.

Superintendent David Peterson said he understands people have different levels of understanding about the schools and therefore would have different perspectives.

“This is an extraordinary case of kid-centered decision making,” Peterson said. “It makes some adults nervous, and it challenges current bureaucratic systems and structures, but it is a clear path for schools to better meet the needs of their kids.”

With the contracts being approved, the district will notify the Idaho Department of Education of its innovation schools.

Eighteen people signed up to speak at the Tuesday meeting, according to Nampa school district spokeswoman Allison Westfall. Twelve people spoke in favor of the innovation school contracts, including Union High School principal Carleen Schnitker.

According to Peterson, Union High School staff unanimously approved the contract.

The Nampa School District is committed to serving all students with innovative approaches to education and is part of Bluum’s 20 in 10 Initiative.

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