New director looks to build relationships and provide more training support

Nichole Hall

Nichole Hall is ready to make a difference in education.

As she wraps her arms around a challenging job, Hall is relying on her years of collaborative, partnership-building experience to guide her first weeks as the new director of the Idaho Public Charter School Commission.

“We have an amazing staff here,” Hall said, adding that charter schools can expect to see them spending more time on campus, improving relationships and working on solutions.

The state agency has struggled recently balancing its advocacy role with its regulatory role — holding schools financially and academically accountable. Striking the correct balance is among Hall’s top priorities.

The IPCSC is the largest authorizer in the state with 62 charter schools; public school districts authorize 12 charter schools. The Legislature created the commission in 2004 to provide oversight. The commission’s seven board members are volunteers, appointed by the governor and the Legislature.

She comes with a desire to help charter schools succeed by building better relationships, not only with schools but also the Legislature and State Department of Education.

“My goal is to sit down with legislators and find out where their frustrations are so I can know how to move forward and provide support to schools,” Hall said.

Beginning as a middle school math teacher, she spent the last 17 years of her career in education. She served nine years for the SDE, as a coordinator in both the assessment and academics divisions. The last four years she worked for the Idaho Department of Labor, as the education program supervisor for the Idaho Job Corps grant, and then as the program director. 

She was interested in working with the charter community because they can develop expanded learning experiences for students: educational setting, curriculum, instructional practices and flexibility with scheduling.

“I am not knocking K-12 schools,” Hall said. “We all learn differently.”

“School districts work diligently to meet the needs of all their different learners but they have structural constraints. Charter schools have the ability to have expanded options in programmatic design,” she added.

Hall holds a master of arts in educational leadership and a master’s degree in mathematics education. Both her teaching and administrator licenses are current. 

Another of Hall’s priorities is to provide more training opportunities in the areas of business operations, facility contracts, funding sources, start-up processes, and compliance within the framework.

Idaho statute provides an accountability structure called the framework, which includes the indicators, measures and metrics used to evaluate each school’s performance outcomes. Each school is evaluated annually against the framework.

Hall was hired this month after the previous director, Jenn Thompson, resigned in protest following a series of controversial decisions. After leaving, Thompson took over as chief planning and policy officer for the Office of the State Board of Education.

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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