West Ada trustees celebrate last year, start shaping next year

West Ada School District trustees celebrated last school year and continued to prepare for the coming school year at Monday’s monthly board meeting.

Trustees recognized now-graduated West Ada seniors and the community that supported them, heard presentations from new administrators, approved new/revised policy recommendations and discussed West Ada’s strategic vision for 2023-27.

These policies and strategic vision will direct how Idaho’s largest school system plans to steer its students towards college and career readiness.

Digging into the details

After the Pledge of Allegiance, an almost three-minute video provided highlights from 2023 West Ada graduation ceremonies — commencement speeches, student reflections, addresses from teachers and Superintendent Derek Bub.

Following the video and Bub’s acknowledgement to the trustees of all the hard work staff and trustees put in, three new West Ada leaders were introduced.

Jeff Christopherson will step in as principal of Hunter Elementary School, Courtney Parker as principal of Meridian Elementary and Meg McGroarty of Renaissance High. These new school leaders all arrive with experience as educators and education directors along with recommendations from teachers and staff.

Christopherson began his career as a teacher at Desert Sage Elementary School before serving as a principal intern at Star and Willow elementary schools. He takes over for the now retired principal, Julie Prince.

Parker is also a former teacher in the district and served as a principal intern at Meridian Elementary.

McGroarty comes from Riverside, Calif., and gained experience as a middle and high school principal, and an educational consultant in northwest Washington. McGroarty began the interview process just two weeks ago and arrived in West Ada at 9:30 p.m. the night before the board meeting.

Typically, after recognitions and introductions, the board assigns at least 30 minutes for patron testimony. This July, there was no public in attendance to testify.

Next, the district dug into the numbers and issues, including a June expense report. The report outlined expenses for bus maintenance, waste disposal and transportation reimbursements, along with purchases for flutes, clarinets, a tenor sax, dumbbells, synthetic blood and male and female skeletons.

Policy review included student enrollment and textbook hearing process updates to align with new state-level legislation, discipline procedure clarification, student dress code (that now prohibits hats for elementary school students), staff dress code (expected to exceed the formality of student dress), simplified immunization requirements and communicable disease policies, emergency administration of medication, student health and safety (that aligns to new parental rights legislation), and administrative regulation of middle and high school graduation requirements (that’s intended to improve parent communication).

All of these new policy recommendations were approved by the West Ada board.

Next, chief operations officer Jonathan Gillen and Meridian Technical Charter High School principal Randy Yardon presented their initial intentions for updating the high school’s charter, written 25 years ago.

Meridian Tech is an alternative career and technical charter high school, funded by state money that flows through West Ada. The district owns the building and provides the school’s transportation, custodial, payroll and other expenses while allowing the charter to oversee curriculum and finances.

Before approving a new charter, board members requested assurance that Meridian Tech school does not compete with other West Ada high schools, expands offerings, and delivers a distinct and impactful curriculum.

Superintendent Bub asserted that Meridian Tech is an indispensable yet independent arm that works closely with West Ada. Trustee David Binetti (via phone) reiterated this collaboration, citing Meridian Tech students that kept the Python programming club at Eagle Middle School going by stepping up as volunteer tutors and mentors.

Meridian Tech will make a formal presentation of its updated charter in August.

A 10-minute break led trustees to the Grand Teton room for a 40-minute work session to hammer out West Ada Strategic Plan details. Discussions over the seven-page plan have unfolded over the past year. The document provides the framework that scaffolds West Ada’s mission: student preparation for college and career readiness.

While this mission has not changed, the vision statement reflects a collective drive towards college and career-ready students through a focus on “teaching, learning and innovation, student success, safety & wellness, and family & community collaboration.”

Board members will present this new strategic plan to the public in August.

Matt Denis

Matt Denis

Reporter Matt Denis is based in the Treasure Valley and has served as an educator and a journalist. Prior to national digital reporting and founding an arts and culture section in Eugene, Oregon, Matt worked as an English and history teacher in Detroit, San Diego, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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