House Bill 279 – Letter of Support to Idaho Senate

House Bill 279 – Letter of Support to Idaho Senate

 

March 16, 2017

Dear Chairman Mortimer,

As public charter school leaders, operators and advocates we are writing to you to express our support for House Bill 279.

House Bill 279 will streamline the petition process for opening a new charter school in the Gem State. We believe that Idaho’s public charter schools have become the most regulated public schools in the state and that the time is right to return some flexibility back to public charter school operators. A good place to start is in the lengthy new school start-up process.

The current process for starting a charter school in Idaho is daunting and can take up to two years to navigate. As Idaho grows and adds children to the K-12 pipeline the process for opening new charter schools has gotten harder. Idaho’s families want more choice and creating new schools is key to making this happen.  We know in speaking to current and prospective school operators that the current process for opening a new charter school frustrates and discourages would-be founders whose only desire is to serve Idaho’s students in high-performing schools.

House Bill 279 strikes a balance between a common-sense streamlining of the start-up process while continuing to ensure prospective school operators are accountable for their performance. It removes much of the “heavy lifting” from the early part of the process (such as managing the process of being rejected by the local school districts before moving on to the state charter school commission). It places the focus on where it belongs—in the later stages, when the general plan has been approved on its merits and school planners can work out the specifics of day-to-day business practices, financial and facilities plans, community development and hiring, knowing that they are not wasting their efforts.

The process for opening a new charter school in Idaho can take up to two years. Per the Idaho State Department of Education’s web site, “Charter schools give parents a choice to send their children to a school that uses innovative methods to provide a quality education.”

Some of Idaho’s highest performing public schools are charter schools, and as a result, there are somewhere between 6,500 and 11,000 students who want to attend a charter school but currently are on waitlists. Streamlining the charter petition process will help students and families find the choice that best fits their child’s learning style and interests.

We support, and encourage you and your colleagues in the Senate Education Committee to support, House Bill 279.

Sincerely,

Terry Ryan
Idaho Charter School Network

Deby Infanger, Board Chair
American Heritage Charter School – Idaho Falls
North Valley Academy – Gooding
Jason Bransford
Gem Innovation Schools – Pocatello & Nampa
Idaho Distance Education Academy – Statewide
Jackie Collins
Idaho Arts Charter School – Nampa
Bill Russell, Chairman of the Board
North Star Charter School – Eagle
Dan Nicklay
Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy – Coeur d’Alene
Stacey Walker
Gem Prep – Nampa
Javier Castaneda
Heritage Community Charter School – Caldwell
Scott Thomson
North Idaho STEM Charter Academy – Rathdrum
Mike Adolf, Chairman of the Board
Compass Public Charter School – Meridian
Shane Pratt
Rolling Hills Public Charter School – Boise
Gerald Love
Gem Prep – Pocatello
Joel F. Weaver
Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy – Fort Hall
Kelly Trudeau
Compass Public Charter School – Meridian
Wendy Oldenkamp
Vision Charter School – Caldwell
Jeremy Clarke
White Pine Charter School – Ammon
Joel Lovstedt
Connor Academy Public Charter School – Chubbuck
Michael Mendive
Pocatello Community Charter School – Pocatello
Mark Green
Falcon Ridge Public Charter School – Kuna
Keith Donahue
Sage International School – Boise
Michelle Ball
Alturas International Academy – Idaho Falls
Fred Ball
Blackfoot Community Charter School – Blackfoot
Bingham Academy – Blackfoot
Heather Dennis
Anser Charter School – Boise
Gayle DeSmet
North Valley Academy – Gooding
Tony Richard
The Village Charter School – Boise
Jim Dalton, Executive Board Member
American Heritage Charter School – Idaho Falls
Brad Petersen, Current Charter Petitioner
Future Public School – Boise

READ THE BILL TEXT HERE

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