A Vote of Confidence in Idaho’s Public Charter School Sector
By Terry Ryan
The Idaho Legislature has passed HB279 and it is now on to Governor Otter for his signature into law.
The bill streamlines the process for opening new public charter schools in Idaho, without in any way diminishing the ability of charter school authorizers to hold their schools accountable for their performance. HB279 passed the House 65-5 and the Senate 35-0.
This is good news for Idaho, its families and its children because ours is a growing state.
According to National Center for Education Statistics the preK-12 student enrollment in Idaho’s public schools (district and charter) will grow from about 300,000 to 325,000 by 2022. Parent demand for school choice in Idaho is expanding. There are at least 6,000 students on charter school waitlists in the Gem State, and public charter schools are an important partner in providing Idaho’s families learning choices for their children.
Idaho’s public charter schools provide an outstanding return on investment for the state’s taxpayers. For example, public charter schools receive an average of $347 per pupil in taxpayer dollars for facilities, this is less than one-quarter of the amount of taxpayer-supported facilities that the state’s district schools receive on average. Public charter schools are in fact doing more with less.
Finally, Idaho’s charter schools work academically for their students. On 2015-16 state achievement tests, five of the state’s top 15 public schools were charters, while the top three public schools in Idaho in mathematics were all charters.
Idaho’s charter school sector has earned the right to expand, and it is good for the state’s families and children that it does so. Thanks to the state’s lawmakers for their vote of confidence in our current and future public charter school leaders and educators to serve and support more of our most precious resource – our children.