A new school is coming to Dry Creek Ranch, but it’s not a West Ada School District project.
On Wednesday, the Ada County Commissioners gave the final thumbs up necessary for Boise Hunter Homes, the developer of Dry Creek Ranch, to bring a charter school to the foothills planned community. The developer did not name a specific school they were in talks with or provide a timeline of when it could open, but developer Travis Hunter said this will help meet the demand for a school faster than the public school district could.
“The pros are you get a school faster, students no longer have to sit on a bus one and a half to two hours a day, taxpayers aren’t burdened by passing a bond and Dry Creek Ranch puts fewer cars on the roads,” Hunter told the commissioners in September. “The only con is West Ada no longer controls the site. This doesn’t make us any money. We’re just trying to have a functional community and that’s why we’re here asking for your help.”
As previously reported by BoiseDev, Hunter said West Ada said a school could open on the site by 2034. Instead, he hopes a charter school can come to the site and open with grades K-5 and climb up to K-8 years sooner. He estimates the school could serve 645 students by its fifth year of operation.
The proposal for a charter school on the site could have a hearing before the Idaho Charter Commission as soon as early next year. The commission has not yet received an application from Boise Hunter Homes or the school that could go on the site.
‘Kind of a no-show’
The school district hoped to keep the site, but there’s no concrete idea of when a public school could be constructed as the district wrangles rapid growth from Eagle to the Canyon County border.
West Ada Schools sent a comment to Ada County objecting to the change, noting they needed the site to meet the demands for growth, according to comments from Ada County staff. A staff member did not appear at the meeting, nor at Planning & Zoning Commission, to answer questions or elaborate on their long term planning.
All three commissioners were in support of the idea and expressed disappointment the school district didn’t provide more information.
“I am not seeing any evidence, written or testimony from anyone with West Ada hinting they even want this land,” Republican Commissioner Ryan Davidson said in September. It would be one thing if they made an impassioned plea to keep it, but even in the letter they submitted they didn’t state affirmatively they want to develop this project. It seems to be pretty one-sided debate where it seems the community is pretty unified in support of this proposal in the west ada school district is kind of a no show.”
Democrat Commissioner Kendra Kenyon had similar thoughts.
“I was disappointed we don’t have anything more substantial from West Ada School district,” she said at the same meeting. “I’m interested in seeing their strategic plan and current student body and their projects and moving forward with anything we need to start making more of a demand to get information from them. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to let this land sit there.”
Clarification: An earlier version of this story definitively said when the Idaho Charter Commission will hear an application for a school at Dry Creek Ranch. It has been changed to reflect that the hearing could happen as soon as early 2023 and that an application has not yet been received.