Charter school stipend bill: a reaction-o-rama

A bill to provide charter schools a $1.4 million facilities stipend cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday, when the House Education Committee voted to print it.

A formal hearing will come later.

Also in the bullpen: a longer and more complicated bill on charter school governance. That bill is likely to be up for a print hearing in House Education early next week.

In the meantime, here are some quick reactions (and some non-reactions) to the stipend bill, House Bill 206:


Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle

Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, chairman of the House Education Committee. “There’s clearly an issue. Our charter schools are struggling.”

DeMordaunt said he likes the fact that HB 206 was crafted by a group of stakeholders — including charter school advocates, the state’s Public Charter School Commission, the Idaho School Boards Association and the Idaho Association of School Administrators. And he also says there is precedent for providing money for school facilities — the state subsidizes voter-approved levies for public schools, to the tune of $17 million.

DeMordaunt hopes HB 206 will be viewed alongside the governance bill. But since the stipend bill carries a pricetag, and since the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee will write a public schools spending bill in early March, he said he wanted HB 206 printed as quickly as possible.

Robin Nettinga, executive director, Idaho Education Association. The IEA has not been involved in drafting the bill, and on Thursday, Nettinga said she hadn’t seen it. She says the IEA has long supported charter schools, but not at the expense of other schools. This bill, as written, would siphon off funds that could be spent elsewhere in education. “(It) gives me some pause.”

Rob Winslow, executive director, IASA. The group is “comfortable” with the compromise, for two reasons. First, it would provide charter authorizers — such as school districts — a fee to handle the administrative chores attached that task. Second, charter advocates scaled back their asking price, settling for smaller stipends. But the price, $1.4 million in the first year, still won’t go over well with everybody.

“I wouldn’t say everybody’s in love with that,” he said. “That’s certainly money the districts could have used.”


Karen Echeverria, executive director, ISBA

Karen Echeverria, executive director, ISBA. The group was involved in negotiating HB 206, but will withhold judgment “until we see the companion legislation.”

State Board of Education. Meeting in Boise Thursday, board members discussed the charter school legislation at some length, but took no position.

Further reading: Here’s our Thursday story explaining the stipend bill in detail.

  • niji masu

    please see the comments appended the”thursday story” appended above for very apropos reaction to this painful legislation.

  • Victoria M. Young

    Could someone please clarify who the “stakeholders” are in publicly-funded institutions?

    Do property holders have any say?

    “Our charter schools are struggling.” Agreed! They do struggle to deliver quality education as consistently as the regular public schools. A disproportionately high number of charters are on the “Priority” and “Focus” lists – of our “accountability” system.

    And let’s not think that this idea came from the “listening session.” The charter lobbyist had it well in the works prior to that shameless display. The listening session was supposed to be about improving schools. Any topics other than real school improvement should have been cut off and more time given to those that could actually help existing schools (you know, the ones stakeholders have already paid to build).

    Three minutes to summarize school improvement – what a joke! This is not doing anything different. Any one up for a real conversation and open minded enough to consider something different?

  • Kevin S. Wilson

    No one who was at the first “listening session” could mistake the testimony from numerous proponents of charter schools as anything but the well-orchestrated, premeditated lobbying that it was. I was very disappointed in Sen. Goedde’s and Rep. DeMourdant’s refusal to adhere to their own rules by cutting off people who were simply repeating what had already been said a dozen times before.

    But to address your question, Ms. Young, “Anyone up for a real conversation and open minded enough to consider something different?” I’ve asked the same thing of the people behind the ED SESSIONS, both generally and specifically. When I asked, generally, “When can we expect the ED SESSIONS to bring to Boise someone who cannot be accurately described as a cheerleader for corporate-driven education ‘reform’ and the privitization of public education?” the response was, in part, “Please let us know of national or internationally known Ed Reformers you would suggest to speak and we’ll research them.”

    I did. Specifically, I provided a list of more than a dozen national or internationally known people who write and lecture regularly on education and education reform, and threw in for good measure a half-dozen local people (including you, Ms. Young). So far, the response has been the sound of crickets chirping, but I’m hopeful that the effort wasn’t wasted, and that some balance in this ongoing discussion might yet be attained.