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New charter school looking for a permanent home

New charter school looking for a permanent home

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - A new charter school is in the works. Alturas International Academy has made its way out of a basement in downtown Idaho Falls to a temporary location while details  pertaining to a potential lease are worked out.

Students' along with parents at Sunnyside Elementary School organized a home school group until the charter school was approved in December.

Teachers will instruct multiage classes of first through-third graders or fourth through-sixth graders. Students will also be placed into learning groups based on assessment data, rather than age.

Former Idaho Falls district teacher Michelle Ball, who will be an instructor and administrator at Alturas, said the school has nontraditional teaching methods.

"We want to become an international baccalaureate school, which are world renown. They started out in Europe and are continuing to progress in the United States," Ball said.

The baccalaureate education method aims to develop intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.

The former Melaleuca building on South Yellowstone Highway in Idaho Falls which is now The Grand Teton Council of the Boy Scouts of America is where the Alturas students will be taught for a year.

Ball said the school has teamed up with 'Building Hope', which is a nonprofit organization that helps charter schools receive loans and the Albertson's Education Foundation to look at possible options for a new location.

"We looked a O. E. Bell building as a possibility. It's a historic building and it used to be a junior high until it was bought by the Ribgy family," Ball said.

The building was a junior high in 1927 but was renovated for office space in 1999. Some concerns surrounding the proposal were parking and the relocation of organizations currently leasing parts of the building.

The Building Hope organization is working with the Albertson's Foundation to get a grant to purchase O.E. Bell building and, if successful, Alturas will then lease the building from Building Hope, and eventually buy it.

Ball said the building is a prime location  because it once was a school. She said students from  surrounding districts will also attend the school.

"This is a huge building, and it used to be a junior high and it served 1,100 students. And now we are hopeful to serve 500 to 600 students in this building," Ball said.

If approved, the school would need upgrades to accommodate the number of students.


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