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From Jabil To Renaissance
After three years of operation, the Jabil Manufacturing Plant closed. For four years it sat empty. What was once 250,000 square feet of nearly empty space is now home to Renaissance High School, Idaho State University Meridian, the Ada Professional Technical Center, Idaho Digital Learning Academy, the West Ada Education Foundation, and Junior Achievement of Idaho.
The story of the District Service Center and the four schools it is home to begins in 2000. That year, Jabil Circuits built its plant on Central Drive in Meridian. The plant produced circuit boards for computer printers. Initially, the building consisted of 80,000 square feet of office space and employee cafeteria, plus a 150,000 square foot manufacturing area. In 2001, the company expanded the facility, by adding an additional 98,000 square feet to the manufacturing floor.
In 2003, the plant closed. For four years the building stood empty. In 2005, the Board of Trustees of West Ada School District began to become interested in the building. The trustees at that time - Jana Nichols, Louis Pifher, Anne Ritter, Mike Vuittonet, and Reed Olsen - saw the manufacturing portion of the building had the potential to be converted into classroom space for thousands of students. District staff toured the facility. They, too saw the potential for the facility. The head of the district's Professional Technical Programs at that time saw that there were spaces in the manufacturing area that could house programs like residential construction with almost no remodeling, allowing the district to serve the backlog of students interested in that program. Other areas afforded the ability to offer new programs like masonry and architectural design, again with little or no remodeling. The district's Superintendent, Linda Clark, saw the facility's potential to be turned into a high school, relieving future overcrowding and also offering students a new academic option at the high school level.
The question was if the price for the building was right. The school district entered into negotiations with the owners, and at the same time began looking for partners who would be interested in joining in the educational venture. Idaho State University was interested. The university saw the potential of the building and also the opportunity to consolidate all of its Treasure Valley health sciences programs into one location.
In 2006 the school district purchased the building for $19.4 million. The purchase included the 80,000 square feet of office space and the 250,000 manufacturing areas. Shortly after the purchase, the school district sold 100,000 square feet of the manufacturing area on the south side of the building to Idaho State University for $4.5 million.
Remodeling began shortly after the building was purchased. One of the earliest projects was the conversion of the former cafeteria into Renaissance Cafe, a classroom and restaurant where students from any high school in the district attend the sequence of culinary arts courses that they began at their home high school. This program allows students to earn culinary art certifications that are recognized in the restaurant industry. As part of their culinary arts instruction, the students earn practical experience by managing and running an operating restaurant that serves lunch on Thursdays and Fridays in the Renaissance Cafe throughout the school year. The restaurant is open to the public.
Other early projects included the remodel of the office space that is occupied by district staff. This project, which cost just over $235,000, included the construction of additional offices within the existing office space. The project also included creating an opening to the existing lobby so that the public would have better access to district staff, and the development of the Ada Professional Technical Center classrooms. Along with the culinary arts program, this included space for a Smart Home Technology Program, Masonry, Architectural Design and Engineering, and over time, a sequence of engineering courses and also courses for students interested in law enforcement and fire fighting. Today, more than 600 students attend the Ada Professional Technical Center.
The largest project undertaken by the school district was the construction of Renaissance High School within the the 150,000 square feet of space that remained after the sale of a portion of the building to Idaho State University. The project included the construction of classroom space, a library, a cafeteria, study rooms, and administrative offices. Some projects, like the library, student fitness center, and cafeteria, are joint spaces used by both West Ada and Idaho State students.
The construction cost for Renaissance was $9.9 million. The total cost, including the purchase of the building, was $24.8 million. The building serves just over 1400 students every day. By comparison, Rocky Mountain High School cost $52 million and is designed to serve 1800 student.
Today, in addition to the West Ada School District students who attend school in the former Jabil Building, Idaho State University has consolidated its nursing, pharmacy, dental, and other health science programs at the site. The partnership between the school district and ISU resulted in the first students in the district graduating with a two-year associates degree. In addition, the state's online school, Idaho Digital Learning, leases space from the school district to house its operation.
There is still space to expand programs for students in the West Ada School District portion of the building. While there are not plans currently being implemented, future students will benefit from new educational opportunities that will be offered in the former Jabil Manufacturing Plant.