Testimony to Senate Education Committee in support of H279
March 20, 2017
Chairman Mortimer, Vice-Chairman Thayn, and members of the committee,
For the record, I am Terry Ryan and I am speaking today to you in my role as the leader of the Idaho Charter School Network.
I want to thank you for hearing House Bill 279 on behalf of myself and the 26 charter school leaders who have signed the letter of support for the bill to Chairman Mortimer dated March 16, 2017. This bill is worthy of your support because it streamlines the process for opening new public charter schools in Idaho. Idaho needs to grow its K-12 new school capacity. 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.[i] Further, there are more than 6,000 students on charter school waitlists in Idaho. Charter schools are an important partner in the state’s new school development, and there is growing parent and student demand for them.
Public charter schools also, I must add, provide an outstanding return on investment for Idaho’s taxpayers. For example, public charter schools receive an average of $347 per pupil in tax payer 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.[ii]
Finally, Idaho’s charter schools work. 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 are all charters.
Thank you for your support of House Bill 279. I’d happily take any questions you might have.
[i] “Projections of Education Statistics to 2022 (41st Edition),” National Center for Education Statistics.
[ii] “Building Excellence: How Helping Charters Access Facilities Can Improve Opportunity for Idaho Kids,” Bellwether Education Partners *December 2016).