Fortifying the base

The Payette Alternative School campus is pictured on May 25. The campus will be known as Presidio Alternative High School when it opens to serve at-risk students this fall.

By Corey Evan


PAYETTE - Having options for at-risk students was what drove the Payette School District Board of Trustees to vote to reopen the Payette Alternative High School for the 2020-21 school year. This time around, the relaunched campus will bear a new nameplate: Presidio High School.

Superintendent Robin Gilbert said the original alternative school didn’t close down because of any major board decision, but rather because the program had fizzled out.

“There was no real conscious decision to close. With [three] changes in principals and Special Education Directors, it lost leadership with understanding and passion for the necessary programs,” said Gilbert in an email on May 20. “It watered down and eventually moved back to [Payette High School] as a credit recovery opportunity.”

With the new school in the pipeline, Gilbert said Payette High has stepped up to catalyze programs for Presidio.

“The High School leadership works closely with students and had a renewed vision for an alternative education that can meet the differing needs of some students. These are at risk students for drop out, but not behaviorally troubled students. This will provide small class sizes and individual instruction.”

The Presidio programs divide days into four blocks of classes, with four classes per quarter to total eight per semester. In contrast, Payette High students have eight-period days with the new four-day week.

Gilbert said the choice of name is intended to give the new school an identity entirely separate from the old.

“Changing the name gives the school a fresh start without the preconceived understandings of the previous school. This is new and fresh and therefore the name should be as well.”

The district chose the name because it means ‘a fortified base.’

“Often a presidio would be built with a specific mission in a vulnerable area,” said Gilbert. “It provided support for the community mission until they could support themselves. We have a specific mission and Presidio High will provide support for our vulnerable students until they can support themselves.”

Presidio will be funded based on enrollment, and teachers for the new school will come from within the district, according to Gilbert.

“We are using our highly qualified teachers and administrators from Payette High School and sharing with the newly opened Presidio High School (upon approval).”

Gilbert said special scheduling will be used to make teachers available to conduct classes at Presidio.

As for the timing of the new school, Gilbert said the Presidio project has long been in the pipeline.

“This has been in the planning all year with the application due for approval.”

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