by Mayor Simison

This past year has brought many challenges and at the top of the list has been education for many of our families. With kids in West Ada School District back in-person last week, I have heard and seen firsthand the excitement for many. I want to applaud everyone – especially our kids – who have shown great resilience and perseverance through the last year.

As one of our key partners, West Ada provides educational services that ensure the bright futures of our youth, and the community as a whole. West Ada has been under the leadership of Dr. Mary Ann Ranells for the last five years. With her retirement coming in June, I want to thank her for her many years as an educational leader in Idaho and West Ada.

Last week West Ada announced the finalists for the new superintendent. You can view the list HERE. As the Board identifies the next superintendent, I look forward to developing a strong working relationship once the person is selected to ensure to continue the valuable work we are doing together. 

Over the last year, we have improved planning and development discussions with West Ada through our planning staff, and brought on a staff resource to help coordinate development conversations with West Ada. These discussions help our staff, Commissioners, and City Council understand the impacts of growth on the schools, including on enrollment numbers and boundary planning, and this role has helped us refine how we look at development applications and their impacts on these school elements. 

I want to applaud the efforts of the Board for taking steps earlier this year to maximize capacity at existing facilities with boundary adjustments. Making change is hard and not popular, but it is necessary as it helps ensure all students get the education they need in a growing district. I know West Ada is committed to a review of boundaries and we look forward to doing our part to help them meet today’s need and tomorrow’s challenges in this process. With final improvements underway at Meridian High School, the opening of Pleasant View Elementary, expansions of three other elementary schools, and Owyhee High School opening next fall, we will see a more balanced enrollment as schools open for the 2021-2022 school year.

Having experienced the challenges of having a senior in 2020, I feel for many of the parents and students who have navigated COVID last year and this year. As decisions are being made for what’s next, I wanted to alert the community to three opportunities offered through the City and our employees.

Through our partnership with local businesses who sponsor the State of the City Address, the City is offering four $1,000 City Scholarships this year for students who will graduate from high school in the spring and begin attending an accredited college or vocational education program in the fall. These scholarships are funded by the business sponsors and are awarded to successful applicants who demonstrate evidence of leadership potential through their community involvement, as well as volunteerism, school activities, and work experience. More information can be found at HERE.

Additionally, the Meridian Police Employee Association has two $750 and three $500 scholarships this year for Meridian students. Like the City Scholarships, these are for students that plan to attend an accredited college or vocational education program in the fall. More details can be found HERE. 

The Meridian Fire Local 4627 also has an opportunity for those seeking higher education with two $500 scholarships available to graduating students, in honor of late Meridian Firefighter Brandon Erickson. These scholarships are funded by the Brandon Erickson Memorial Scholarship Fund for those majoring in fire science, fire administration, an approved paramedic program, or a paramedic science program. More information on these scholarships can be found HERE.

I have said, to be a premier community to live, work, and raise a family we have to care as much about roads and education as we do the core services we provide to the community. I feel confident that our partnerships with West Ada, charter schools, private schools and the business community are strong and keeping us focused on developing the future of Meridian!