A new public charter school will open its doors in Meridian for the 2018-19 school year for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Gem Prep: Meridian will be the fourth public charter school operated by Gem Innovation Schools. It joins the ranks of Idaho Distance Education Academy, also know as I-DEA, which opened in 2004; Gem Prep: Pocatello, opened in 2014; and Gem Prep: Nampa, opened in 2016.
Gem Innovation Schools is buying a building near Overland and Eagle Roads to house the school. Celeste Grover, the school’s operations manager, said Gem Prep: Meridian will offer a “blended learning” curriculum that integrates online instruction, though students will never spend more than an hour a day at the computer. The curriculum will allow students to learn at their own pace. Two adults, a teacher and paraprofessional, will be in all classrooms at all times.
The school will enroll 372 students in grades K-6. Then the school will grow, adding one to two grades per year until it serves grades K-12.
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Like all charter schools, Gem Prep: Meridian will be a free public school. It will receive $1.8 million per year from the state.
The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation provided a $480,000 start-up grant. The foundation has been a supporter of Gem Innovation Schools for several years, Grover said.
Seventeen charter schools already operate in Ada and Canyon Counties, and nine virtual schools do too. Idaho charter schools enrolled 21, 959 students last school year, the State Board of Education said.
The Idaho Public Charter School Commission unanimously approved the group’s petition.
Gem Innovation Schools will host an informational meeting about the new school, covering its academic focus, lottery registration, hiring and other topics, from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, at the Idaho Distance Education Academy, 8620 W. Emerald St., Suite 190, Boise. Learn more online at gemprep.org.
Gem Prep: Meridian leaders
▪ Dennis Turner, Gem Innovation’s chairman, who worked for the city of Pocatello.
▪ Jason Bransford, the CEO, a longtime teacher and former vice president of the Idaho Charter School Network, who opened the Pocatello school in 2007.
▪ Josh Femreite, chief operating officer, who holds a degree in business information from the University of Idaho and helped develop the existing schools’ technology departments.
▪ Barb Femreite, chief financial officer, who worked in government accounting and finance.
▪ Grover, who came from a charter school in Utah.