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New school in American Falls to be called J. R. Simplot Elementary School

December 21, 2018

The new school being built in American Falls will be named the J. R. Simplot Elementary School, according to a press release by the American Falls School District School Board.

The name was voted on by the school board during the December 17th board meeting. The school will open August of 2019.

“We are pleased to name our school after one of the great Idahoans,” said Kamren Koompin, School Board Chairman. “His work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and technological leadership are something we would like to instill in our students.”

“I know my dad would be thrilled to be remembered in this way,” Said Scott Simplot, J.R.’s youngest son and Chairman of the J.R. Simplot Company. “He was committed to helping our youth achieve great things and one way we keep his legacy alive is through our continued efforts to support education and young people.”

The 38,692 square foot building will host grades 3-5 with an anticipated enrollment of 350 students. The school is located on the site of the old American Falls High School built in 1934 and torn down in 2000 when the new American Falls High School was completed.

The new building is attached to the existing 40,000 square foot building, which includes a full size gym, music room, cafeteria, hybrid makerspace, video production lab, art classroom and two STEM labs.

The focus of the new school will be centered around technology and project-based learning. New technology will include the high tech makerspace, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, video production lab, and four additional STEM Labs.

The school was designed by Hutchison Smith Architects and built by Construction Services of Pocatello.

Jack Richard “J.R.” Simplot was born in 1909 in Iowa, but grew up between American Falls and Declo. In 1929 he started his first business. During the early 1940’s the business expanded, serving the military dehydrated onions and potatoes during World War II. In 1953, Simplot patented the frozen french-fried potato, an invention that has had a significant impact on Power County.

Named after his son Don, he opened the Don Plant in 1944, his first fertilizer production facility. When production began in the 1940’s, the Don Plant produced less than 1,000 tons of phosphate products annually. Now the plant produces over 1,000,000 tons annually of various phosphate fertilizers, feed phosphates, and industrial products. These products contribute to the success of Power County farmers.

The plant has operated continuously since it was built, with regular upgrades and the adoption of new technology. Today the Don Plant employs 350 people in a diverse range of occupations, including plant operations, instrumentation, environmental science, chemistry and machining.

The Don Plant accounts for 24 percent of the Power County tax base. The Don Plant tax base pays for 24 percent of every tax supported project in our district.

Superintendent Randy Jensen expressed his gratitude for the continued support from the J.R. Simplot family.

“They have helped build the foundation for education in our community through their contributions to our tax base in Power County. We appreciate their willingness to support our educational programs and create unique learning opportunities for our youth.”

In 2013 the Simplot Family Foundation donated $90,000 to update and expand the district’s welding program.

The new school being built in American Falls will be named the J. R. Simplot Elementary School according to a press release by the American Falls School District School Board. The name was voted on by the school board during the December 17th board meeting. The school will open August of 2019.“We are pleased to name our school after one of the great Idahoans,” said Kamren Koompin, School Board Chairman. “His work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and technological leadership are something we would like to instill in our students.”“I know my dad would be thrilled to be remembered in this way,” Said Scott Simplot, J.R.’s youngest son and Chairman of the J.R. Simplot Company. “He was committed to helping our youth achieve great things and one way we keep his legacy alive is through our continued efforts to support education and young people.”The 38,692 square foot building will host grades 3-5 with an anticipated enrollment of 350 students. The school is located on the site of the old American Falls High School built in 1934 and torn down in 2000 when the new American Falls High School was completed. The new building is attached to the existing 40,000 square foot building, which includes a full size gym, music room, cafeteria, hybrid makerspace, video production lab, art classroom and two STEM labs.The focus of the new school will be centered around technology and project-based learning. New technology will include the high tech makerspace, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, video production lab, and four additional STEM Labs.The school was designed by Hutchison Smith Architects and built by Construction Services of Pocatello.Jack Richard “J.R.” Simplot was born in 1909 in Iowa, but grew up between American Falls and Declo. In 1929 he started his first business. During the early 1940’s the business expanded, serving the military dehydrated onions and potatoes during World War II. In 1953, Simplot patented the frozen french-fried potato, an invention that has had a significant impact on Power County.Named after his son Don, he opened the Don Plant in 1944, his first fertilizer production facility. When production began in the 1940’s, the Don Plant produced less than 1,000 tons of phosphate products annually. Now the plant produces over 1,000,000 tons annually of various phosphate fertilizers, feed phosphates, and industrial products. These products contribute to the success of Power County farmers.The plant has operated continuously since it was built, with regular upgrades and the adoption of new technology. Today the Don Plant employs 350 people in a diverse range of occupations, including plant operations, instrumentation, environmental science, chemistry and machining.The Don Plant accounts for 24% of the Power County tax base. The Don Plant tax base pays for 24% of every tax supported project in our district. Superintendent Randy Jensen expressed his gratitude for the continued support from the J.R. Simplot family. “They have helped build the foundation for education in our community through their contributions to our tax base in Power County. We appreciate their willingness to support our educational programs and create unique learning opportunities for our youth.” In 2013 the Simplot Family Foundation donated $90,000 to update and expand the district’s welding program.

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