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.
This life-sized statue of Jesus in the Bishop Kelly lobby underscores the fact that it is a private religious school. Nationally private school enrollment is shrinking, especially in Catholic schools. Boise's Bishop Kelly High School is growing. A school spokesperson says BK's advantage is an emphasis on spirituality unavailable in public schools, both charter and traditional.
Researchers at the U.S. Census Bureau have believed for some time that private school enrollment has been on the decline. Now Bureau statistician Stephanie Ewert says they’re sure. Her new report does not say why fewer students are choosing privates schools, but Ewert says the growth of charter schools may have something to do with it. Around the country she found that places where charters grew, private school enrollment got smaller.
A year ago, Idaho lawmakers asked the state’s Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE) to study charter schools. They wanted the office charged with assessing Idaho’s agencies and programs to determine if charter schools were meeting the goal of making the state’s public education better overall. Last night, members of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee heard the answer. Amy Lorenzo was one of those who presented the OPE report.
Idaho lawmakers are considering a re-write of the state's charter school law. Thursday they'll hear from the public.
Idaho was an early adopter of charter schools. Fifteen years ago, the state passed a law to allow the publicly funded, privately run schools to be created. Since then the only major change has been the formation of a commission to oversee charter schools. In recent years, though, Idaho has slipped from being one of the charter-friendliest states in the country to one of the least.
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.
About 350 people came to a meeting at Idaho’s capital Monday night which lawmakers called an education listening session. Many signed up to share their thoughts on issues facing public schools. One theme rose to the top, education funding, or the lack of it.
The education committees of Idaho’s house and senate listened for two and a half hours Friday to people sharing their thoughts on Idaho schools. About 200 people attended the session and about 50 spoke.
By far the topic lawmakers heard about the most was funding for charter schools. A couple of charter schools packed the capital auditorium with parents and students. One parent from Boise’s Sage International School Caroline Robinson put it this way.
Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA) is one of Idaho’s 48 charter schools and one of seven online charters run by for-profit companies. Aswe've reported this weekIDVA is Idaho’s largest public school, bigger than most of the state’s school districts. Idaho taxpayers fund it and it’s managed by K-12 Inc. headquartered in Virginia.
There’s a room off the Bell family kitchen in Kuna where alphabet letters march above the fireplace and multiplication tables hang on cubicle dividers. This is where 6th grader Wyatt Bell watches a video lecture on algebra. He’s one of about 3,000 students of Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA).