Director’s Note – February 12, 2019

posted in: PPCS News & Announcements | 0

Dear Palouse Prairie Families,

On this snowy day, I wanted to reach out and reflect on our school’s current status. In particular, I’d like to give you detailed and up-to-date information on our new school building and answer some questions you might be asking.

First of all, I want to share how proud I am of the incredible work of our students and teachers each and every day. As you know, earlier this year, we became one of only 36 credentialed EL schools in the country. To achieve this distinction, we went through a rigorous process of documenting the impact of our rigorous, joyful, and effective teaching and learning. If you’d like to learn more (much more!) visit our Portfolio on our website.   In addition, we received honor standing in academic (both in achievement and student growth), finance and operations in the Annual Performance Report  conducted by the Idaho Charter School Commission.

Just in the last few months, our students have explored and designed playgrounds (3rd grade), launched a community drive to gather hygiene products for migrant farm workers in need (5th grade), stretched, played, and tried new things at MOSS (McCall Outdoor Science School), premiered a short documentary about our Confluence of Cultures canoe building project (4th grade) and (7th grade) tested soil of the future school site and other locations to test the relationship between soil respiration (CO2 production from microbes) and soil health.

Read on for updates about progress toward our new school. If you have other questions, please send them to me, and I will address them in my next communication to the school.

With much gratitude,

Jeneille Branen

Executive Director


#BigLift – Status Update

Here are some of the questions that you might be asking about the new building. Please mark your calendars for our Family Tour and Celebration on March 22.

Q:  Are we on track to begin the 2019/2020 school year in our new building?

A:  Yes!  The construction of our new building at the corner of Nursery and Power streets has been ahead of schedule and — fingers crossed — will be complete as early as May, 2019.  Our plan is to move in fully in the month of June and be ready to begin our 2019/2020 school year on site. This is going to be a great space for our students and we are grateful to everyone that has assisted in the process by donating time, money and positive energy to make it happen. 

Please join me and the PPCS board on March 22 for a celebration and tour of the new building!

Q:  What will our new school be like? 

A:  Our new property is just as beautiful and spacious as we knew it would be, with green space for gardens, playgrounds, and exercising our bodies. Our new school building will be energy efficient with great natural light, real classroom walls, and a multi-purpose space for our many activities. We are especially excited that our students will be able to run around and play outside with the beautiful views of the Palouse

Q: Will we have everything we dreamed of having in a new facility? 

A:  The short answer is: not right away.  When we first began planning our new school, we had ambitious dreams. To fully realize our vision, we needed to first buy land with money we had saved over the last ten years ($392,000), and then raise $70,000 in addition to secure a construction loan. As the realities of escalating construction costs, time constraints with the end of our current lease and challenges of fundraising have settled in, we have been required to adjust our plans accordingly.   I would like to provide you with a brief overview of the current plans for our new Palouse Prairie Charter School building.

When we move into our new school building, we will be moving into the first completed phase of construction. Phase 1 includes a 14,030 square foot school building, including a multipurpose room with a climbing wall, a STEM lab, a playground, gardens and landscaping, and a small serving kitchen.  To accommodate our middle school students’ need for extra space and a slight separation from younger students, we will utilize a modular classroom.  The cost of our Phase 1 work is $2 million. Our mortgage payment will be significantly higher than our current rent. We can do it, and we will do it, but we won’t have a lot of wiggle room.

In addition, we are still hoping to add some critical finishing touches that are important to our student and teacher experience in Phase 1.  These are non-budgeted items that will require additional funds to be raised to be included in the Phase 1 plans: 

  • Athletic flooring for the multipurpose room
  • Key-in security system
  • Playground structure
  • Exterior main entry signage
  • Drinking fountain and water bottle filler in multipurpose room

Q: Ok… so then what? 

A:  After we have adjusted to our new school and have a good sense of our needs, we will begin planning and fundraising for Phase 2. As of right now, we have these priorities for a future expansion. Once we have caught our breath, we look forward to engaging the Palouse Prairie community in planning for our eventual Phase 2.

  • An outdoor classroom
    • Upgraded school kitchen and additional restroom
    • Expanded gardens (for a garden to school table program)
    • Expansion of our multipurpose room
    • Two additional classrooms
    • Sinks in all classrooms
    • Other additions to be determined

Q: What can I do to help? 

A:  Thanks for asking that question.  Here are a few thoughts.

  • Donate:  We know that you receive many requests for donations, but we are still fundraising. So if you or folks that you know are able and interested in making a financial contribution toward the above list of remaining priorities, we will put it to good use.
  • Host an event: Events – from dinners to activities – are great ways to let people know about Palouse Prairie, build community, and raise funds. If you are interested in hosting one, let Ms. Trish in our front office know and we will provide information and support.

Promote our school: Having full classrooms is our very best strategy for long-term success! The best advertisement is word-of-mouth, so please share positive stories and information with your friends and neighbors both verbally and through social media. You are invited to a special celebration and tour on March 22 — please mark your calendar and bring a friend! More information to come as we get closer to this date.