Nampa to open new charter school in August

A tech-savvy blended learning charter school focused on individualized instruction will open its doors in August. Nampa School District trustees unanimously approved the new charter last week. Gem Prep: Nampa will be authorized by the Nampa School District.

Nicole McTavish
Nicole McTavish, Nampa’s assistant superintendent

“Gem Prep is a different approach to education and we thought it would be a neat choice for families,” said Nicole McTavish, Nampa’s assistant superintendent.

The school will be managed by a new charter management organization, Gem Innovation Schools, in partnership with the Nampa School District.

Gem Prep will use a blended-learning model, which is a combination of classroom and online instruction. Idaho Distance Education Academy (IDEA) piloted its first blended learning school, Gem Prep: Pocatello, in August 2014 with kindergarten and first grade students. This year the school expanded to second and third grade.

“It’s a school to get students college and career ready using data-driven instruction,” said Jason Bransford, the CEO of Gem Innovation Schools and director of IDEA.

IDEA officials are still looking for a 40,000-square-foot building but have their eyes on a local church or Nampa School District building.

The school is expected to open with 252 students in kindergarten through fourth grade and officials plan to expand the school through 12th grade by 2022 with 582 students.

“The district has been spending about a year moving the district more toward leveraging digital tools,” McTavish said. “We are going to watch and learn from Gem Prep – the partnership is going to be two-way.”

Gem Prep
Gem Prep: Nampa anticipated enrollment

When the school opens next summer there will be two classes per grade level with 10 teachers and 14 support staff members. The average class size for grades K-3 is 24 students, grades 4-6 is 30 students and grades 7-12 will vary, but not exceed 30 students.

“Nampa had the demographics, diversity and income level we were looking for,” Bransford said. “We do want to open an additional campus in the future, but right now our energy is focused on Nampa.”

A Nampa trustee will sit on the school’s board of directors as a non-voting member.

“This will be a great step to opening up the lines of communication,” Nampa trustee Brian McGourty said. “The district will benefit from this relationship.”

Gem Prep: Nampa will be the ninth charter school in Canyon County, fifth in Nampa and the second (Idaho Arts Charter) for the school district.

“The partnership with Idaho Arts Charter School has been paving the way for us to be open to charters,” McTavish said.

For more information about Gem Prep: Nampa click here.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News and Gem Innovation Schools are funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.