Meeting Minutes
March 29, 2021


  • Kelly Aberasturi
  • Ryan Davidson
  • John Evans
  • Brad Holton
  • Debbie Kling
  • Angie Lee
  • Lauren McLean
  • Garret Nancolas
  • Jason Pierce
  • Robert Simison
  • Joe Stear
  • Rich Skyes
  • Pam White

Staff and Guests

  • Robert Berlin-Mayor, City of Roberts
  • Rebecca Casper-Mayor, City of Idaho Falls
  • Rafael Gonzalez, First Assistant, US Attorney's office
  • Matt Strong-Co-founder, Elevate Academy
  • Monica White-Co-founder, Elevate Academy
  • Bill Larsen - TVP

Welcome and Introductions

Garret welcomed everyone the City of Caldwell and Elevate Academy for the March meeting of the Treasure Valley Partnership. He introduced Rebecca Casper – Mayor of Idaho Falls and Robert Berlin – Mayor of Roberts.

Garret mentioned the downtown plaza. The area includes an ice-skating rink, which is one of six in the U.S. This has been a big draw. They put a counter on the entry points to the plaza. Between Jan. 1st and Nov. 15th, even during a pandemic year, they had over 400,000 enter the plaza. Also, they have several new restaurants in downtown Caldwell.

Elevate Academy

Rebecca Casper indicated that Senator Lent had asked her to visit the Elevate Academy as they are increasing their footprint across the State, and the City of Idaho Falls has been mentioned as a future site.

Matt Strong said in the Elevate Academy Board Room they have a listing of the organization’s core tenets. One of the main tenets is culture. Culture to them is everything.

He and Monica were Principal and Vice Principal for an alternative school in Caldwell. The reason for Elevate Academy is when they would ask graduates at what they are going to do after graduation, their answer was I don’t know.

On September 10th, we will be at the Nampa Civic Center starting at 9:00 am. Bill has two confirmations for speakers. Dennis Owsley with Water Resources will present about the treasure valley aquifer and Paris Dickerson will be presenting on the health of the power grid in the treasure valley.

The idea for Elevate Academy was develop programs around all the trades for at-risk kids. Why the trades. Not only are they going to graduate, but they are going to teach them how to work and what work looks like, and then they are going to give them skills.

When they started they had a meeting with a representative from the Albertson’s foundation about building a charter school. They also met with Garret Nancolas who referred them to several businesses that helped drive curriculums needed for various trades. This led the development of Elevate Academy.

They have a great partnership with local businesses. These industry businesses even provide substitutes teachers.

Core Tenets:

  1. They believe in at-risk youth.
  2. They believe in community driven education. In the next 15-20 years, if our community changes, we need to change along with it.
  3. They believe in opportunity driven education. They try to never say no. Recently they had a couple 6th grade students ask about a volleyball court. Before long, these students were talking with the city and various people to work on developing a court on the grounds. The students made that happen. Additionally, they partner with the community to learn about opportunities for projects such as a wheelchair bound individual needing a ramp built for their home.
  4. They believe in an integrated approach. Monica said everything in the school is master based. They cross teach all the Math, English and Science standards with the trade. So, whatever their emphasis such as culinary or one of the trades, they appy tasks in conjunction with learning about the emphasis.
  5. They call it purpose driven learning. How many times have you heard a kid say, why do I have to learn this? Here everything is attached to the real-world emphasis or trade they are pursuing.

They also have kids that pursue a college education as well as kids that pursue military service.

Kelly asked how much of the experience is peer driven. Matt said when you go around to classrooms, you will see 11th graders teaching 6th graders. The experience is designed so when you are ready to graduate from a curriculum, you are expected to provide assistance teaching the techniques of the trade to other students. “if you can teach it, you can most likely do it”

Additionally, they actually have a peer court. If a kid is not doing what he is supposed to be doing, the kids try them in court. The staff doesn’t discipline students, the student peer court does that. Monica added that their peer court is recognized by the State Supreme Court.

Garret said it was amazing how much the community contributed toward this school. The money came from a dozen different sources to put this together. The City participated as the property was in the urban renewal district and sewer, streets, gutters and other site improvements were able to be done.

Bill asked if there was any blow-back from the public-school district here in Caldwell. Garret said there were a couple school board members that were concerned the school would take teachers from the district. Other than that, there is a good relationship between the District and Elevate Academy. Many of the students here participate in sports and other activities at public schools around the valley.

Debbie asked what things we need to take into account if we are considering doing similar things in our communities. Garret said it is important to have good communication with the school superintendent and administrators. A lot of public-school districts look at charter schools as pilfering from their per head school money. The difference is many of these at-risk kids Elevate Academy serves were not going to school anyway.

Additionally, the student population of Elevate Academy are not just Caldwell kids. They have students coming from all over including Wilder, Homedale, Nampa, Middleton and other places around the valley.

Open Discussion

John said, the legislature is currently in a recess and there will be potentially another run at S1108 with maybe some circuit breaker addition to pick up another vote or two. AIC is prepared for that. He and others are meeting with Governor, Pro-Tem in the interim.

HB332 is the income tax bill that would drop the income tax from 6.9 to 6.5. The element of that bill which is distressing is the internet sales tax capture that is scheduled to sunset in 2024.

SAUSA Program

Rafael Gonzales indicated that Alex Klempel, the current SAUSA is taking a position with Canyon County. They have announced the position and are wanting a representative from the Partnership to participate in the interview and selection process.

In regard to the SAUSA position, they have been talking about updating the pay structure as it has been stagnant over the life of the project. They have proposed tying the pay structure to Canyon Counties starting salary and then providing an extra percentage incentive for this position. They also propose an increase in salary over the first three years.

Bill said he has been working to arrive at a funding amount given the new proposed pay structure. Canyon County has indicated they wanted to not tie the new pay structure to a starting salary but to give it a little bigger boost to be able to attract more experienced type of personnel.

Bill indicated they have arrived at an annual increase in the payroll contribution of $15,000. This would satisfy the new payroll structure. In addition, funds that are unspent will be rolled over in an account for the SAUSA Program and initial residual funds would go to pay for increases in the salary structure. All totaled, the new payroll contribution would be $70,000 from the State, through the Idaho Department of Corrections and $45,000 from the Partnership.

Bill asked for a volunteer to participate in the SAUSA interview process. Rafael indicated it would happen fairly quickly and they would need the volunteer within the next two to three weeks. Joe volunteered to represent the Partnership.

Rafael encouraged the Treasure Valley Partnership as well as the Eastern Idaho Partnership to engage with the Governor’s Office with regard increasing State participation in project funding.

Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

Rafael said they are seeing counterfeit prescription drugs that are available on the street in southern and northern Idaho. Previously they would typically get 30-60 pills in a seizure. Now they are seeing a volume in the rage of 6,000. It is clear that the supply of these counterfeit prescription drugs is far exceeding demand. The danger of these counterfeit drugs is they are made from Fentanyl. For Fentanyl, the fatal dose is about 2mg. DEA has done a survey of these counterfeits and found that 27% had potentially fatal overdose amounts.

He said he is available to talk to anyone in the community about this problem. If members can help get the message out.

Director’s Report

Brad moved and Garret seconded to approve the minutes and financial statement. Motion approved.

Bill pointed to a proposed operating budget for FY 21-22. For this next year, we could pay for the $15,000 increase for the SAUSA by eliminating a few budget categories and taking the rest out of our reserve fund. The reason being, it doesn’t make sense to look at dues increases when we are waiting on the census to be completed.

Brad felt it was a good move for this next year. We won’t have census data for looking at dues and we can easily handle this increased expense. Brad moved we accept the 21-22 operating budget and keep the dues structure in place. Joe seconded; motion carried unanimously.

Debbie clarified if the Partnership has about $124,000 sitting in reserve. Bill said that was correct and we should have right at $100,000 in reserve at the end of the fiscal year.

Bill said there has been some conversation about the Partnership issuing an OP-ED regarding this property tax issue. He has taken the liberty of drafting one and would like to get a few members to volunteer to word smith it prior to approval.

Robert Berlin asked about the Partnership structure. Bill indicated dues are calculated at 11 centers per population. There is only one part-time staff and that is him. Each month we rotate who hosts our meeting. The host Mayor/Commissioner provides lunch and has control over the agenda. This is a 501c-3, member organization with 15 Mayors and the Chair of the Board of County Commission of the three counties.

Garret said there is no authority to what we do, and it is an opportunity to discuss issues.

Robert Berlin liked the idea of having a little money to throw at things. He is a chair of a 501 in his community of Roberts, when the City can’t undertake an effort, the 501 – could. He thinks it is a neat idea to have something like the Partnership for the SW Region.

Joe said, as an example of what the Partnership affords us, they were wanting to move the new jets to the Mountain-Home Air Force Base. We discussed it, did a joint letter of support and other support activities for that decision. When something comes up, you have the tool in the partnership to address the issue/concern

Rebecca asked how county population is calculated. Bill said it is the unincorporated population that comprises the county dues.

Brad said, what your going to find is, this is the only meeting with your peers. He can site lots of examples usually at our November/December meetings where outgoing members refer to the Partnership as the most beneficial group they get to attend. We try to have our meetings where there is an open forum.

Rebecca Casper said the group the Eastern Idaho Partnership was formed for the SAUSA. In addition to this, they had to come together unofficially as a region for the eclipse. This would been a helpful coordination body. They have also had to come together to talk about water issues and pandemic things. Having an organization like this would have been helpful in Eastern Idaho.

Rebecca Casper indicated in the Eastern Idaho Partnership; members include police chiefs.

Brad and Garret both indicated for member participation in our monthly meetings or other activities, we frown on replacements. Either the Mayor/Commissioners goes, or he/she doesn’t.

Lauren McLean, Kelly Aberasturi, Robert Simison, Joe Stear and Jason Pierce listen to presentation from Elevate Academy in Caldwell.