Over several years, more than $2.3 million in federal grants went to Idaho charter schools that later closed their doors.
The grants came from $1.8 billion in federal programs designed to provide startup dollars for charter schools. And the U.S. Department of Education concedes the grant recipients include more than 400 failed charter schools.
Idaho no longer receives money from the feds’ Charter Schools Program. That decision has nothing to do with the program’s failure rate. Instead, the State Department of Education found the feds’ rules too cumbersome.
IDAHO’S TRACK RECORD
All told, Idaho received more than $21.6 millionfrom the Charter Schools Program. The vast majority of that money went to charter schools that remain in operation. The list of recipients includes some of Idaho’s more stable and high-performing charter schools.
But the list, released by the U.S. Department of Education in December, also includes several Idaho charter school failures:
- Southern Idaho Learning Center in Twin Falls, later renamed Wings Charter School. Wings closed in 2014, due to financial problems stemming from low enrollment. The school received a total of $616,750 in federal grants.
- Garden City Charter School, later renamed DaVinci Charter School. DaVinci closed in 2013 due to financial problems, after receiving $592,308 from the feds.
- OWL Charter Academy in Nampa, which closed in 2011 due to financial troubles. The school received a $408,000 federal grant.
- Idaho Leadership Academy in Pingree. Closed in 2008, as the result of low enrollment and related funding shortfalls. The school received a $381,107 grant.
- Nampa Classical Charter School. The school battled with state officials over its plan to use the Bible as a literary source, but financial troubles ultimately forced the State Board of Education to revoke the school’s charter. The school received a $328,378 federal grant.
- Renaissance Charter School in Moscow. One of the state’s first charter schools, Renaissance closed in 2004, after falling into financial crisis and failing to adhere to its charter. The school received a $9,000 grant.
These schools received a total of $2,335,543.
On top of that, the Hidden Springs Charter School struggled after receiving a $320,592 federal grant. Hidden Springs remains open, but not as a charter school. Beset with low enrollment and financial troubles, the school was eventually folded into the Boise School District.