Idaho’s 2013 legislative session is expected to wrap up Thursday. Passing the public education budget has held lawmakers up. Wednesday another of the session’s big education issues cleared its final hurdle before heading to the governor’s desk. But the overhaul of the state’s charter school law is not what backers had hoped it would be.
We’ve been following the budget crisis in the Nampa School District since last summer. That was when the state’s third largest district revealed accounting errors had created a deficit of $4.3 million. That is also the levy amount the district is asking Nampa voters to approve Tuesday.
Since its crisis began the Nampa School District has eliminated most of the substitute teaching budget, furloughed employees, decided to sell off land. But that’s not enough. That’s why fourth grade teacher Carmi Scheller is counting on the levy.
Cindy Hoovel took charge of DaVinci Charter School (then called Garden City Community School) in 2007, its second year. In her first year the school paid all its debts and started a reserve fund. She says she will start looking for a new job.
Charter school advocates in Idaho are pushing state lawmakers for money to help pay for facilities. They argue they need the money because they can’t pass levies like traditional districts. Many districts say they need that money even more. There’s one charter school that’s become a poster child for this debate over school funding.
Tuesday lawmakers in Idaho’s House Education Committee hear from the public and vote on a bill to give more money to charter schools. Under the bill charters would get money each year for buildings. Advocates say they need it because they can’t pass levies like traditional districts. But some districts call the measure unfair. Now a fight could be brewing between the two groups as both vie for limited state funding.
The public wasn’t thinking much about Idaho charter school funding until lawmakers held a pair of public meetings this month. That was when charter school advocates turned out in droves to plead for more funding.
Idaho lawmakers Thursday agreed to consider a bill to give more money to charter schools. Jason Hancock with Idaho’s Department of Education told the House Education Committee charters have a hard time paying for buildings.