Nick Smith was named Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s chief deputy in January.
But when he had the chance to return to the schools — and head up a school in the Boise School District — he couldn’t say no. On Monday, Smith was named principal of Lowell Elementary School, a 100-year-old school in Boise’s North End.
“I wasn’t really looking, but when the opportunity presented itself, it was one I couldn’t pass up,” Smith said Tuesday.
Smith said he had no desire to leave Luna’s staff. Instead, he says, his move was motivated by the chance to join the Boise district, and return to the schools.
Smith had been a teacher and administrator in the Bliss School District before 2006, when he joined the staff of then-state superintendent Marilyn Howard. Save for a detour to work for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, Smith has worked for the state Department of Education ever since.
As chief deputy, Smith supervised a variety of functions — from charter education and school nutrition to Title I and special education. Smith says his broad experience at the state level has prepared him for returning to the schools. For example, he says his experience with Title I and special education, and the nuanced federal laws that govern these programs, will help Lowell make the most of these programs, in the face of uncertain federal funding.
Smith will leave Luna’s staff in early August. The department plans to select a new deputy before he leaves, spokeswoman Melissa McGrath said Tuesday.
In the meantime, Smith says he has plenty of unfinished business to tie up.
That includes Idaho Core Standards, the state’s version of the Common Core math and English language arts standards. The state will put together a focus group to figure out how to best spend $3.75 million for professional development.
And it also includes new state rules to evaluate teachers and principals. The State Board of Education has given the rules initial approval. Eventually, the 2014 Legislature could consider the rules, and the irony of the timing isn’t lost on Smith.
“I’m going to be evaluated on the rules I put together.”
Smith replaces Paula Bell, who will be the new principal at Morley Nelson Elementary School.
In other Boise appointments announced Monday:
• Longfellow Elementary School. Bryce England will move over from Borah High School, where he is now assistant principal.
England has worked for the Boise district since 1999, working since 2009-10 in a variety of administrative roles.
Camille Fraley, the current principal at Longfellow, was named assistant principal at Frank Church High School.
• Adams Elementary School. Mark Jones, a principal in Boise elementary schools since 1999, will shift from Maple Grove Elementary School.
Jones had been principal at Maple Grove since 2006. A 29-year veteran of Boise schools, Jones will succeed Jeff Roberts, who is moving from Adams to Shadow Hills Elementary School.
• Riverside Elementary School. Erin Kubena moves from Horizon Elementary School, where she now is assistant principal.
Kubena has worked for the Boise district since 2000.
She will succeed Sandy Winters, who is moving from Riverside to the principal’s post at Riverglen Junior High School.
Further principals’ changes could be announced in the days or weeks to come, Boise district spokesman Dan Hollar said Monday.
More reading: Here’s a roundup of other new principals’ hires in the Boise School District, announced earlier this month.