History of the Boise School District
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The First Fifty Years
Research indicates that the first school in Boise was opened by F. B. Smith in the fall of 1863 at the corner of Idaho and Seventh Streets.
In 1864, a public school system was established in the Idaho Territory. In 1865, the territorial governor appointed J. B. Knight as the county superintendent for Ada County; and he organized School District No. 1, which included Boise City and adjacent lands.
The first public school in Boise opened in June 1865. Financial support came primarily from public contributions, as county funds were insufficient to build and maintain schools. Due to financial problems, the public school was closed from June 1866 until July 1868. In September, 1868, the citizens of Boise approved a tax levy of 5 mills for each dollar of taxable property. The money generated was used to build a school on Eighth and Washington Streets. Unfortunately, the school cost more than was anticipated, and the voters turned down a proposal to increase taxes and pay the excess building costs. Because of this, the building debt was not completely paid off until 1871.
An attempt to improve the financial condition of the District was made in 1880. Three districts were created to serve Boise City: District No. 1 serving an area bounded by Main Street on the south and Eighth Street on the east; District No. 22, serving the area south of Main; and District No. 24 serving the area west of Eighth. Increasing enrollment and increasing financial problems again caused the citizens of Boise to request a better method of providing for public schools. Thus, in an effort to strengthen the public schools and provide a graded system, the three existing districts were combined to form the Independent School District of Boise City #1.
When the legislature met in January, 1881, the citizens of Boise were determined to secure a better public school system. R. Z. Johnson, a territorial legislator, and later a trustee, drew up the bill creating the Boise District. The bill was signed by the territorial governor on February 4, 1881, and the Independent School District of Boise City #1 came into existence.
The bill, which established the Boise District, granted the District a charter, which is still in existence today. While the Charter has been amended by the legislature from time to time, many of the original provisions remain. Today, among the Charter provisions are the following which allow the Board of Trustees to:
- make rules and regulations to govern the schools;
- employ or discharge a superintendent, teachers and other employees and determine their salaries;
- determine tuition for nonresident pupils;
- adopt textbooks and determine the course of study;
- determine the length of the school term;
- determine annually the District's budget.
The most important provision is the one giving the Board of Trustees the power and authority to propose a budget, provide a public hearing on the budget, and, after adoption of the budget, and determine the amount of money needed to be raised by taxes. The right to determine the tax levy gives the District local control of its own affairs.
The first Board of Trustees for the Independent School District of Boise City #1 was composed of six men who had played prominent parts in the establishment of the City of Boise. The six men were individually named as Trustees in the House Bill which established the District in 1881. At the first organizational meeting of the Board, two of the seats on the Board were designated to be elected in 1882, two in 1884, and two in 1886.
The Charter designated that the mayor of Boise would serve as ex officio president of the Board. Officers selected from among the six Board members were vice-president, secretary and treasurer. However, the Board could select non-Board members to serve as secretary and treasurer.
The first superintendent of the Boise School District was J. W. Daniels. Daniels was born in England and came to the United States in 1851. Daniels was well-known for his outstanding teaching abilities in Latin and Greek, as well as for the rigid military discipline with which he ran the schools. Not only did students often find themselves drilling daily, but on Saturdays, the teachers were also put through a similar course of instruction.
J. W. Daniels is perhaps the best known superintendent of the period 1881-1920. However, there were 10 superintendents who led the Boise District during this time. Daniels began his association with the Boise School District in the fall of 1881. He left in February, 1882 and was first followed as superintendent by a Professor Boomer and later by a Professor George. Daniels was asked to return in January, 1883, and he remained at the District's helm until 1890, when he again resigned. From 1890-1896, the District was led by C. M. Kiggins. Kiggins attempted to broaden the curriculum as well as introduce new methods of training which focused on reason and imagination rather than rote memorization. He was an early advocate of professionally trained teachers, limited class size (less than the 70 pupils usually given each teacher), science laboratories, school libraries and kindergarten.
Kiggins left in 1896 and was followed by J. J. Allison. He had served as superintendent of schools in Ohio and Indiana. Under Allison's leadership "correlation was the key word...of the period." Subjects were correlated with music, art, literature and nature study. Specific texts were not listed in the course of study, as any text was used which included information on the subject being studied. He stressed reason and persuasion rather than corporal punishment. This was a most progressive approach; and by 1898, the Board of Trustees decided that under this approach discipline had become too lax and students too unruly. J. W. Daniels was hired as superintendent a third time in 1898 and served until 1903.
Following the school District's beginnings in 1881, it grew rapidly. The old school, built in 1868 and located on the corner of 8th and Washington, remained in use by the District until a new school, Central, was opened in 1882. This school, the first one built by the Independent School District of Boise City #1, contained 16 rooms, although not all were used the first few years. Originally, the school's estimated cost was $25,000, but the final figures were over $44,000. At the time the Board was widely criticized for building a school that was too large and too expensive. By 1893, however, Central School was serving almost 700 students and was overcrowded.
Whittier School was built in 1894 to relieve the overcrowding at Central. It was located on Fort Street between 12th and 13th Streets. The building was used as the District's administrative offices until 2001 and has since been sold, demolished, and replaced by upscale condominiums. Two years later (1896) the first Lincoln School was built. As enrollment continued growing, up to 2,364 students in 1903, additional buildings were constructed. Washington was built in 1900, followed by Longfellow and new Central in 1905-1906 (old Central School, including the block of land upon which it stood, was sold to the State of Idaho for construction of the west wing of the Capitol building in 1905). In 1910, Park School was constructed at a cost of $20,000. The building, located on a triangular block at 16th and Fairview, was used until 1949.
Several schools currently in use today were built during this time period. The first Boise High School was built in 1902 on the site where the central portion of Boise High is today. In 1908 the east wing was built and attached to the original structure. The west wing was constructed in 1912-13 and attached to the original building. The Industrial Arts building was constructed during 1919-20 and was used while the original 1902 building was torn down in 1921-22 and replaced with the central portion which exists today.
The present Washington School was built in 1911-12, adjacent to the building constructed in 1900. The necessity for two buildings was due to the fact that the style of many early school buildings, including the first Washington, prohibited additions. The original Washington School burned in 1916.
Lowell Elementary School was built in three stages. The first floor and basement were completed in 1913 at a cost of $24,972, followed by the second floor in 1917 ($3,600), and the north addition in 1926 ($25,851).
Like Lowell, Roosevelt School was built in stages; but it was completed in only one year, 1919. The basement was built by one contractor, the superstructure by a second, the plumbing by a third, and the heating by a fourth. The cost estimate was $45,000, but the actual building cost was $81,083.46.
The first unit of the present Whitney School was built in 1925-26, after the original building was destroyed by fire in 1924. The three parts of the building were again constructed by three different contractors. It cost $24,127.
The last building constructed during the period 1881-1930 was Garfield School. It was built in 1930; and, as with Roosevelt and Whitney, involved five different contractors, each responsible for one part of the school. The total cost was $63,612.75.
While the school District's enrollment increased greatly during 1881-1930, the District's physical size also increased, due to annexations. Prior to 1881, many small, rural schools developed around the City of Boise. As Boise grew closer to the rural schools, many opted to become annexed to the larger district. In 1907 the first District, Hawthorne, was annexed to the Boise District. Following this were annexations of Garfield (1910), Lowell (1909), Collister (1922) and Whitney (1923).
An article in the October 6, 1885 Idaho Triweekly Statesman indicated that Central School was divided into four departments: 1) primary, 2) intermediate, 3) grammar, and 4) high school. Music and art were said to be taught in the first three departments in addition to the traditional courses of reading, writing (including penmanship), arithmetic and social studies. High school students studied higher math, science and college prep courses in the classics. In 1888 bookkeeping was added to the high school curriculum. The Boise District had one of only 2 high school programs during the territorial period of Idaho. The first graduating class, in 1884, was composed of Tom G. Hailey and Henry Johnson. The class of 1885 was double in size and contained the first women graduates: Hetty Cahalan, Mary Cahalan, Harry Humphrey and Philo Turner. The sizes of the graduating classes continued to increase. In 1887 there were 11 graduates, by 1900 there were 23, and by 1910 the number had increased to 72. By 1920 there were 151 graduates, and within ten years the number of graduates had reached 223.
Military training, a great love of first Superintendent Daniels, was begun for high school students in 1900. The students, with Daniels' support, organized the Boise High Cadets; and when their request for federal funding was turned down, they purchased their own uniforms and some equipment. They also encouraged an NCO from the Boise Barracks to drill them several times a week. The group grew from 30-40 members in 1900 to 70 in 1902. During World War I, the group disbanded, but reorganized in 1918. In 1919, Congress expanded the funding for military groups so that high school groups could receive money. Thus, the Boise High Cadet Corps began in the spring of 1919, with 60 boys under the direction of Lt. Col. John E. Wall.
The school board minutes of August 4, 1903, listed the following curriculum as the one adopted for the 1903-1904 school year:
- 9th grade: Algebra, American Literature, Civics, Physical Geography, and English Grammar or Latin
- 10th grade: Algebra, Rhetoric, History, Zoology, and Botany or Caesar
- 11th grade: English Literature, Physics, Plane Geometry, Astronomy, and English History or Cicero
- 12th grade: Chemistry, Geology, Solid Geometry, American History, Economics, Advanced Arithmetic, and Critical Literature or Virgil
Courses added to the high school curriculum between 1904-1908 included cooking, sewing, manual training and music. Marguerite Nolan (Mrs. Herbert Lemp) is credited with beginning the domestic science courses at Boise High.
During the period from 1908-1915, the home economics program and the manual arts program were enlarged in scope. Other curriculum changes included the first free night school for high school dropouts and an expansion of the original classical curriculum to include the previously mentioned courses, plus stenography and typewriting.
The first programs for students with special needs were established in 1896 at the then newly constructed Lincoln School on the corner of 4th and Idaho. The school was patterned after the Emily Griffeth School in Denver, which was the first school in the west for students with special needs. The school soon became known as the Lincoln Opportunity School with four full time teachers instructing students in grades 1 through 8. In the early days of Lincoln Opportunity School, boys and girls were taught separately. As Lincoln School was developing and expanding service, other schools were following suit. In 1924 an Opportunity Room was established at the old Whittier School for students who were not benefiting from regular school programs.
Another important program was developed in 1924. The District, in cooperation with the local Red Cross Chapter, established a dental clinic. The District furnished the rooms, and the Red Cross furnished the equipment. Local dentists volunteered their time to conduct examinations. In 1927 a dental hygienist was employed.
The period of 1881-1930 saw the introduction of activities as well as courses. Athletic activities for boys began in the 1890's. The first girls basketball team was begun in 1907 and was composed of seven members. The 1907 Boise High School yearbook stated that "...it was an honor to be defeated by such a team." The Boise High Courier was first published in 1900 as a monthly magazine. It later became the school's yearbook. During the 1900's, the Boise High Highlights was first published as the newspaper of the Associated Student Body.
The first radio station in Boise, KFAU, was started at Boise High School. The operational equipment was located in the basement of the high school, and a transmitter was placed on the roof. The station operated until 1928, when the radio program was discontinued.
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1931 - 1970
The 1930's and early 1940's were difficult years for the Boise District, as they were for everyone. The great depression created a multitude of problems, and as they were faced and solved, expansion of programs had to wait. Maintenance of existing programs was foremost in the minds of educators.
The curricular program continued to stress the basic skills in language arts, science, math and social studies, as well as offering programs in areas such as art, music, world languages, home economics, industrial arts and secretarial science. One important addition to the curriculum during this time was the beginning of speech correction classes at Lowell School in 1934. Half-time classes were also offered at Lincoln, "Opportunity School." The following year speech correction classes were added to the high school.
Perhaps one of the most important changes during the 1930's was the change from an 8-4 graded school system to a 6-3-3 graded system. The first junior high, now North, was built in 1936-37 on 13th Street for a cost of $308,351. It opened in September of 1937 and housed grades 7, 8 and 9. By the end of that year it had an enrollment of 1,378 students. The junior high concept was formally organized in 1939.
In addition to the building of North Junior High, an addition was built at Whitney in 1936 for a cost of $22,506. The Boise High gymnasium was also constructed in 1936. The cost for this building was $122,118.
Conditions remained much the same during the war years. During 1940-43 the school enrollment remained quite stable. During the 1940-41 school year the enrollment was 6,217. The following year enrollment was at 6,202 and in 1942-43 it was 6,254.
Students and faculty members participated in the war effort. Many joined the armed forces. Others worked in Civil Defense activities, War Bond drives, and assisted the Red Cross.
An important program was established in 1940. At that time the Boise District joined with the City of Boise to provide a summer recreation program for children. The program was (and continues to be) recognized nationally. It serves thousands of children every summer.
Beginning with the 1943-44 school year, the District began to grow. Enrollment for that year was almost 700 students higher than the previous year. Although the 1944-45 enrollment was less (6,881 compared to 6,906 for 1943-44), the following years continued to increase significantly. Enrollment figures for the 1949-50 school year indicate that 8,990 students were attending the Boise schools.
Part of the large increase in enrollment was due to the fact that rural districts were annexed to the Boise District during the late 1940's. In September, 1940, the Pierce Park District, formerly known as Common District No. 18, voted to consolidate with Boise. The Boise District retained the original school, which had been built in 1911, and added to it in 1949 and again in 1950.
In December, 1947, the Fairmont District approved annexation to the Boise District. This district had been formed in 1946 by the Franklin District and the Cole District, and included a junior high program at Cole and a high school program, which was housed in the Franklin School, in addition to the elementary program at both schools. The Idaho Statesman stated that the Fairmont District comprised an area ". . . half the size of Boise."
Two more districts annexed in 1949. The Holcomb District, which adjoined the Garfield District, annexed May 14, 1949. It was followed by the Maple Grove District on May 18th.
The tremendous enrollment growth created a need for new school buildings, and the late 1940's saw the beginning of a large scale building program. The District's second junior high, South, was built in 1947-48. Jefferson, Lincoln and Whittier Elementary Schools were built in 1949. Additions to Whitney, Pierce Park, Garfield, Roosevelt and Washington were also constructed in 1949, as was an addition to the new junior high, South.
During the 1951-1960 period the tremendous growth continued. The District reached an enrollment of 10,000 during the 1951-1952 school year. By 1959-1960 the enrollment had almost doubled, having reached 18,289.
The high school population severely strained the one existing high school in the 1950's. Tenth grade students attended the junior highs for several years, in an effort to alleviate the crowding. The construction of Borah High School in 1958 resulted in the tenth grade students returning to the high schools.
The Orchard School voted to annex to Boise in 1950, and the Valley View School District voted in favor of annexation to Boise in October, 1951. These were the last annexations to the Boise District.
The building program, which began in the late 1940's continued in full force. New schools were constructed and additions were built onto existing schools. Hawthorne and McKinley were built in 1951, followed by the construction of one elementary school each year during the five year period of 1952-1956: 1952 Madison, 1953 Campus, 1954 Monroe, 1955 Adams, and 1956 Koelsch. Two additional junior highs, East and West, were constructed in 1952. After a one year break, construction began again. Hillcrest and Mountain View Elementary Schools and Borah High School were built in 1958, followed by Highlands, Jackson, Taft and Hillside Junior High in 1960.
Existing buildings were enlarged in order to accommodate the large number of students. Even new buildings were quickly outgrown and had to be enlarged. A second addition to Pierce Park was constructed in 1951, as was a second addition to Roosevelt. Jefferson, constructed in 1949, received a $90,681 addition in 1953. Within four years from the original date of construction (1951) McKinley had to be enlarged by five classrooms. Monroe received four more rooms in 1957, only three years after its original construction. Hawthorne and Koelsch also required additions in 1958. One year after Hillcrest's construction in 1958, more rooms were added to accommodate the influx of students. In 1960, additions were constructed at Mountain View, Lincoln, Borah and Boise.
Curriculum in Boise during 1951-1960 was affected by national activities and achievements. No drastic changes were made, but increased emphasis was placed on world languages, math and the sciences. The traditional basic skills continued to be important. This period actually began to set the stage for the changes in the late 1960's and 1970's. Special education received renewed emphasis as well. In 1950 a full time speech therapist began offering services to eligible students. In 1953 a program was established at Franklin School to teach special needs children. At that time, parents worked as aides in the classroom, and provided transportation to school for some of the children. Eight years later a second classroom for older special needs children was begun.
The building continued in the 60's, but at a scaled down pace. A 14-room addition was built onto Hawthorne in 1961. In 1964 the third high school was built in west Boise and was named Capital. The following year an auditorium was added to Adams School. In 1968 the building program was rounded out by the building of Owyhee, Valley View and Maple Grove.
Curricular changes in the 1960's responded to needs of Boise students. Courses in remedial math and science were expanded as were college level courses in math and science. The physical education program and reading program were expanded, as were some elements of the social science program. Perhaps the biggest curricular change during this period was the development of the American Humanities program in the late 1960's. In addition to continued emphasis on math, science and world languages courses, there was a questioning of the content and goal of each program.
Special education began a large scale expansion at this time. Lincoln expanded its program in 1962 so that special education students from grades 1 through 12 could receive an appropriate education. In 1964 special education classes were added to Roosevelt's elementary program. For the next five years, special education programs were added in seven elementary schools: Central (1965), Whittier (1966), Taft (1967), Collister (1968), Monroe (1970), Hawthorne (1970) and Garfield (1970).
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1970 - 2015
The decade of the 60's in Boise set the stages for changes in the 70's. Parents, patrons, students, staff and trustees began to study and question the traditional in an attempt to provide the best education possible. By the end of that decade, changes were evident. One of the most important changes, a change in philosophy, brought about child oriented education.
The focus of change during the 1970's moved from constructing facilities to expanding and changing curriculum. Enrollment in grades 1-12 decreased approximately 1,700 students during the 1970's, although kindergarten enrollment increased from 768 in its first year (1972-1973) to 1,644 during 1979-80. Although enrollment in grades 1-12 did not increase, population shifts within the community caused severe strains on several neighborhood schools. Closed enrollments in many grade levels were instituted at Maple Grove, Garfield and Campus. Construction of Amity Elementary School (pictured bellow) in 1977-78 (the only new school constructed during this decade) eased the strain on Maple Grove.
The 1970's witnessed many curricular changes in the Boise District. The changes were in step with the District's child oriented philosophy, yet maintained quality education. They also created a better utilization of District facilities.
The kindergarten program was begun in 1970-71 utilizing Model Cities funds. In the beginning the program served only three schools, but gradually expanded so that it served all elementary schools except Madison. In June, 1972, the Boise patrons approved an increase in the mill levy to fund the kindergarten program. With the beginning of the 1972-73 school year, the program became a District supported program. The program grew from an enrollment of 758 in 1972-73 to 1,644 in November, 1980.
In an attempt to insure that all students mastered the basic life skills, the District developed a K-12 Basic Responsibilities program in 1975. Goals and objectives were written for math, science, language arts and social studies at each grade level. Criterion referenced tests were developed which would assess each student's mastery of the necessary skills and allow teachers to individualize the educational program to fit each student's needs.
Career Education began in 1971-1972 for secondary students desiring vocational training. Courses were developed in the fields of health occupations, retail floral, auto body, auto mechanics, food service, marketing, building construction, police science, forestry, welding, cosmetology and data processing. In 1974-1975 a pre-vocational program was begun to assist junior high potential dropouts.
In 1971-1972 the Community Education program began at three District schools. The program's purpose was to provide educational opportunities for District patrons in neighborhood schools after the regular school day. The program grew from some 50 course offerings to over 300 offerings in 40 schools and locations.
The 1970's witnessed an expansion of special education to every school in the District. Programs were developed to serve students who were learning disabled, hearing disabled, physically handicapped, gifted/talented, or who suffered from sight impairment.
A teacher resource center was developed in 1972-1973 and was located in the former Fallout Shelter in the Highlands, with the previously existing Instructional Media Center. The TRC served District teachers by providing in-service training, workshops and dissemination of educational information. The IMC provided a multitude of instructional materials as well as training in methods of producing such materials and utilizing them fully. The IMC/TRC services were combined with curriculum and staff development in 1994, and the facility was renamed the Educational Services Center.
The Boise District's School Volunteer program began in 1970. The program has provided a large cadre of dedicated individuals, each with an area of expertise which he or she has willingly shared with students. Annually over 75,000 hours of volunteer service are provided by over 3,500 volunteers.
In 1985 the School Volunteer program began Partners in Education. The program, which partners one business/corporation, one BSU school/college and one elementary or secondary school, began as a pilot program funded by the National School Volunteers and a grant from the H. J. Heinz Foundation, Inc. It is nationally recognized as a model of community involvement in the public schools.
In the 1980's the District's emphasis on curriculum and instruction increased. The Board of Trustees identified curriculum revision and staff development as its highest priority in 1984. As a result, a full time administrator for staff development was hired. The Boise Instructional Model was adopted, and Inservice training in the three phases of the Model was begun. By the fall of 1987, all administrators had received training in all three phases, and nearly 700 certified staff had received training in the first two phases. Programs compatible with the BIM, such as Cooperative Learning and Positive Classroom Discipline, were taught widely in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
Major curriculum revision began in 1985. The first area to undergo a major revision was the K-12 language arts curriculum. Following the completion of this revision in 1987, the K-12 social studies curriculum was identified as the next area needing major revision. During the 1986-1987 school year, District counselors began work on a competency based K-12 guidance program. The major emphasis in the area of curriculum during the next few years will be to fully implement all revisions and to develop a more uniform curriculum.
Other major developments during the 1980's included the building of Liberty Elementary School in 1982-1984 (pictured). The school was built to accommodate the rapid growth in southeast Boise and reflects the continuing support District patrons have for the neighborhood school concept. In September, 1987, Liberty had the largest enrollment of any elementary school in the District.
In 1985 District patrons formed the Boise Public Schools Education Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit foundation designed to raise funds for use by the Boise School District. While the Foundation accepts donations of any amount, its long range goal is to establish an endowment fund which can be used to provide schools with those things not normally considered a part of the traditional school curriculum, while not supplanting the general funds provided by the District.
The late 80's and early 90's featured the discovery of Boise as a "nice place to raise a family" by immigrants from across the country. Student population in the District began to climb rapidly, and new highs in enrollment were reached yearly in the first half-decade of the 90's. Five new schools were built during this time period: White Pine (1990), Cynthia Mann (1990 - pictured above), Horizon (1992), Riverside (1992), and Les Bois Junior High (1994).
Growth in Boise continued, and the District built several new schools during the decade. Trail Wind Elementary (1998) was built to serve the Columbia Village neighborhood in southwest Boise near Micron Technology. Shadow Hills Elementary was also constructed in northwest Boise in 1998, and Riverglen Junior High opened to relieve the enrollment stress placed on Hillside Junior High by growth in the northwest area of town. A new Les Boise Junior High (pictured) was also built in Columbia Village, and the former Les Bois, built only four years earlier, was remodeled and expanded in 1998 to become Timberline High School (pictured below) the District’s fourth comprehensive high school.
Boise began increasingly to become an urban district in this time period. As student population increased, so did the proportion of low-income students. In 1988, some 27% of Boise students received free or reduced lunch. By 1995, that proportion was 37%.
In the early 1990's, the District shifted its emphasis to the sites, beginning a process known as Site-Based School Improvement, in which building teams began to make significant decisions about schooling of children in their communities. All District schools were involved in the project at the beginning of the 1995-96 school year.
In 1994, the District's administrative structure was reorganized by then Superintendent Dehryl A. “Tony” Dennis to emphasize more consistent line and staff organizations. Four Area Directors were appointed in regions of the District. The Educational Services Center was organized to provide technical support for curriculum, staff development, and site-based projects.
Dennis also developed a plan to improve facilities for vocational education. Those facilities had been located in a dilapidated structure on Main Street near downtown Boise. Dennis’ dream was to develop state of the art facilities on a 144 acre plot of land the district had purchased on Victory Road. The Professional Technical Education Building opened in 1998 (pictured), and was named for Dr. Dennis after he retired in 1999. Tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade students are bused to the Dennis Center for studies in a variety of areas, organized in two hour block sessions. Areas of study at the facility include Auto Body, Auto Technology, Welding, Digital Photography, Fish and Wildlife, and Technology.
Soon after the construction of the Professional-Technical facility, another of Dennis’ projects was realized. The Administrative Offices for the District were spread around the District at different sites, including a bomb shelter in the Highlands, the Administration Building in north Boise, three small houses in the north end, and offices at several high schools. In 2002, a new administrative facility was built just south the Professional Technical Building. The new building, subsequently named after Dennis’ successor Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis, provided office space for most of the District’s administrative personnel.
Dr. Ed Davis moved the District forward on a variety of fronts, but none was more important than the work done in curriculum and strategic planning. Davis in 1999 commissioned a Curriculum Audit and a Management Audit to examine District programs and organization. Among the many recommendations in the two audits were the restructuring and improvement of curriculum, and a move from site-based authority back to a centrally organized structure. In 2000, a committee of over 100 patrons, students, teachers, and administrators used the audit information and survey data from the public to develop Plan 2005, the strategic plan that still drives many District actions.
Davis’ tenure as Superintendent of Schools was relatively brief (he retired in 2002), but was marked by solid planning for the future and wise resource management. Plan 2005 provided direction for curriculum, professional development, technology, equitable distribution of resources, and staffing. The plan guided the District through a stormy period when the federal government became more involved with state and, ultimately, district affairs, beginning with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2002. This revision became know as the No Child Left Behind law.
After a nationwide search for Davis’ replacement, the Board of Trustees, under the leadership of President Rory Jones, hired Dr. Stan Olson as Superintendent. Olson, who served as Boise School District Superintendent of Schools from 2002 to 2010, came to the District from Casper, Wyoming, and had served in administrative role in Michigan, as well. Olson’s tenure in the Boise District was marked by a focus on providing choice for District patrons, and by a quest for new and innovative programs in the District. He has also served during a time when dramatic changes occurred within the District.
Student enrollment began to decline in the Boise District in 1998, after reaching a peak in 1997 of 27,070 students. In the following ten years, the District lost over 2,200 students, until 2007-08, when a modest increase of 150 students was seen.
Talk of school closures and downsizing abounded in the District in the early years of the 21st century. In the face of such discussion, the District embarked on a bond campaign to consolidate several older schools into new buildings, and to replace other aging facilities. In March, 2005, voters approved a $94 million bond issue, and construction began on several new buildings, including Morley Nelson and Grace Jordan (pictured) Elementary Schools, which replaced Franklin, McKinley, Cole, and Jackson Schools.
At the Victory Road location, a new West Junior High replaced the facility on Curtis Road, and Frank Church Alternative High School (pictured) welcomed students from Fort Boise Mid-High and Mountain Cove High School. South Junior High also opened, on the same site on which the former South building existed. A renovation of Borah High School’s new gymnasium was completed in spring of the 2007-08 school year, as well.
For the start of the 2009-10 school year a new Whitney School (built on the same site as the existing building) and a new East Junior High School (pictured), located in the Barber Valley several miles east of the current site opened.
In addition, construction of a new gymnasium at North Junior High School, and renovations of Lowell, Roosevelt, Borah, and Capital High Schools were completed
Dr. Olson fostered the development of many new initiatives in the Boise District. Among them were the Treasure Valley Math and Science Center (pictured), full-day kindergarten options at four elementary schools, All-Ready Preschools at Whittier and Hawthorne, Full Day Gifted classrooms at many District locations, a Highly Gifted program operating at Collister and Hillside, and a Harbor Method school at Owyhee Elementary. Dual Language Immersion Spanish programs at Whittier and Whitney Elementary Schools and International Schools with Spanish language instruction at Longfellow and Pierce Park were also implemented.
In 2003, the Board of Trustees opened enrollment to students from other districts with no tuition fee. As of the 2007-08 school year, over 1000 students, primarily from the Meridian District (now West Ada School District) open enrolled into Boise’s schools. Primary among the recipients are schools bordering other Districts, such as Amity, Horizon, Valley View, Fairmont, Riverglen, Borah, and Capital.
The Advanced Placement program, supplemented by a support program know as AVID, grew to new heights in the first decade of the 21st century. Over 1,800 AP exams were given in 2006-07 to over 800 students, in 23 different subject areas. Rigorous AP instruction has become more and more popular among District students, while achievement on AP exams has remained at levels high above those of the state and nation.
District achievement on state tests such as the Idaho Reading Indicator and the Idaho Standards Achievement Tests also exceeded the performance levels of the state of Idaho, and continued to improve as the “NCLB decade” wore on. In-district exams known as End of Course Assessments, recommended by the Curriculum Audit in 1999, grew to encompass most coursework in grades 7-12.
On September 8, 2008 Dr. Olson announced his retirement at the end of the 2009-10 school year, effective June 30, 2010.
On September 14, 2009 the Boise School District Board of Trustees officially announced the appointment of Dr. Don Coberly, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Boise School District, to serve as Superintendent of the Boise School District, effective July 1, 2010.
At the time of the announcement, Board members said the selection of Dr. Coberly would allow for a smooth transition of leadership at a time when the District was beginning implementation of its new Strategic Plan, Plan 2015. Plan 2015 was designed to help guide the District through the year 2015 and includes strategies and goals associated with continually improving education in the Boise School District.
Dr. Coberly is a well respected education professional in the District and throughout Idaho and the region. He has served in the Boise School District since 1985. Dr. Coberly graduated from Borah High School, received his Bachelor’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of Idaho, and his Master’s Degree from Boise State University. He has served in a number of positions during that time, including Elementary Teacher, Language Arts Supervisor, Curriculum Coordinator, and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Coberly also taught in the Kuna School District and in Clarkston, WA before coming to the Boise School District.
As the District’s Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Coberly led a number of initiatives, including the District’s efforts to expand its Advanced Placement course offerings. The District’s AP program is the recognized leader in the state of Idaho and annually gives over a third of the state’s AP exams. The number of exams taken by District students has grown from just under 500 in 1994 to over 3,600 in 2014-15. As the number of students taking exams has substantially increased, the “passing” percentage for the Boise District has dropped, from 78% in 2009 to 67% in 2015. This was expected, as more an more students are accessing the rigorous curriculum of Advanced Placement.
During Dr. Coberly’s service as Director of Curriculum and Instruction, District students regularly scored above state averages on the Idaho Standards Achievement Tests, Idaho Reading Indicator, and Direct Writing and Math Assessments, even as District demographics changed substantially.
Dr. Coberly’s focus on data-driven decision-making continues to position the District well to perform at a high level of academic achievement and continues to help the District receive recognition as one of the academic performance leaders in the State of Idaho.
During Dr. Coberly's tenure as Superintendent of Schools the District has renewed and strengthened its:
- commitment to college and career readiness;
- dedication to preparing students for an increasingly global society, through the development of creativity and thinking skills with an emphasis on integration of technology;
- commitment to a safe and secure learning environment;
- support for a caring and compassionate staff committed to providing the best education for each and every child;
- commitment to providing opportunities for meaningful parental involvement; and
- dedication to the District's core values of respect, dignity, honesty, responsibility and teamwork.
In addition, under the leadership of Dr. Coberly, Boise School District has continued to receive notable recognition for the following:
- Nationally ranked high schools – All four of Boise’s comprehensive high schools, Boise, Borah, Capital and Timberine have been ranked among the top 10% in the country by the Washington Post for the past seven years for providing rigor through Advanced Placement coursework.
- An Advanced Placement program with at least 23 AP offerings in each comprehensive high school. Advanced Placement classes are rigorous, college-level classes taught by certified high school teachers and audited by the College Board. The vast majority of colleges and universities offer credit and/or waivers for particular scores on Advanced Placement exams, and the College Board maintains a site where students and parents can see AP credit policies of each college/university. The District is committed to providing a rigorous curriculum for all students.
- Commitment to the arts, including band, orchestra, and choir programs beginning in elementary grades. In 2011, The National Association of Music Manufacturers recognized Boise as one of the top U.S. communities for music education. The district’s outstanding art program offers coursework including ceramics, painting and drawing.
- The AVID Program, a college-preparatory program for junior and senior high school students who are performing in the academic middle;
- International Program emphasis at Longfellow Elementary School, with study of world cultures and exposure to the Spanish language;
- Public Harbor School at Owyhee Elementary School serving grades K-6 with a focus on a core knowledge curriculum and direct instruction methods;
- Liberty Elementary School Montessori program where students become actively involved in the education process through hands-on experimentation and discovery;
- All-day kindergarten program offered in several schools;
- Classical Education program at Pierce Park Elementary School which includes instruction in Latin;
- Dual Immersion Language programs at Whitney and Whittier elementary schools that provide an opportunity for fluency in both English and Spanish;
- Gifted and Talented Education programs for qualifying students;
- English Language Learner programs for Limited English Proficiency students; and
- Extensive Special Education programs, including Madison Early Childhood Center, which provides services to developmentally disabled preschool children between the ages of 3 and 5 and support to their families.
In addition, Boise School District students continue to outperform the state of Idaho on standardized achievement tests in every subject. The percentage of students reading at grade level on the Idaho Reading Indicator and scoring proficient on the Idaho Standards Achievement Test continue to surpass Idaho results at each of the grades in which the assessments are given. In 2013, on the second statewide administration of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Boise District juniors outperformed students in every other large district in the state of Idaho.
The Boise District also continues to be the leader in the statewide awards to students selected as Finalists in the National Merit® Scholarship Program. Boise District students regularly receive millions of dollars in annual academic scholarships, and take home award after award in local, state and national competitions. District staff also regularly receive local, state and national recognition and are some of the most experienced and educationally advanced staff members in Idaho.
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