Putting The Fiscal Performance Of Idaho’s Charter Schools Into Context

91 percent of Idaho charter public schools authorized by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission (PCSC) were found to be fiscally sound following a recent review. These schools represent 94.1 percent of students attending PCSC authorized charter public schools. The PCSC is Idaho’s primary charter authorizer three of every four charter public schools. The remainder of Idaho’s charter public schools are authorized by local school districts.

As a charter authorizer, it is the PCSC’s responsibility to hold its charter public schools accountable for their performance in return for additional flexibility for these public schools to try different instructional programs and approaches.  The PCSC provides this oversight through a performance certificate that includes academic, legal, and financial frameworks by which school performance is measured.

The PCSC issued letters of fiscal concern earlier this month to three of its authorized charter public schools after reviewing recent financial audits. These three schools represent less than nine percent of PCSC’s authorized schools and in the 2015-16 school year they served 955 students – six percent of students attending PCSC authorized charter schools.

This letter of fiscal concern process is unique to Idaho’s Public Charter School Commission and provides a formal notice to the State Department of Education that PCSC has “reason to believe that a public charter school cannot remain fiscally sound for the remainder of its certificate term.” Upon receiving the letter, the State Department of Education is allowed to modify the payment schedule for the school’s upcoming year to be more evenly distributed – but no change is made to the total amount of funding the school receives. The idea here is to protect state dollars from going to schools that may close mid-year. Letters of fiscal concern can be rescinded if the charter school can document it has fixed its financial problems.

You can find more information about these schools in the minutes from June’s PCSC board meeting.

Idaho Public Charter School Commission-Authorized School Portfolio and Troubled Schools (2016)
Number Percentage
# of Commission Authorized Schools 2015-16 35 100.0%
# of Commissioned-Authorized Schools with Letters of Fiscal Concern 3 8.6%
# of Students Served by Commissioned-Authorized Schools 16,060 100.0%
# of Students in Commission-Authorized Schools with Letters of Fiscal Concern 955 5.9%
# of Students in Commission-Authorized Schools without Letters of Concern 15,105 94.1%