Closing a charter: boon or burden?

If North Star Charter School closes in 2013-14, what becomes of the Eagle school’s 900 students — and the state dollars earmarked to educate them?

The answer, as with many matters of public school funding, isn’t as simple as it originally appears.

According to the state Department of Education, the money will be prorated. If the Meridian School Board revokes North Star’s charter, and the district absorbs the school’s students in the middle of the school year, the district would get per-pupil funding on a prorated basis.

Here’s a link to the section of state law on charter school closures.

Last week, Boise State Public Radio’s Adam Cotterell said closing North Star could be a boon for the Meridian School District. Or a burden, depending on timing. He said Meridian could get a larger share of the $4 million earmarked for North Star if the district revoked the charter by Nov. 1 — the day the state sends out its largest attendance-based payments to the schools.

In June, the Meridian district took the first steps to revoke North Star’s charter, saying the 10-year-old school had not come up with a long-term plan to restructure its debt. That begins a potentially time-consuming process.

The charter revocation is subject to a public hearing at the district level. If the School Board ultimately decides to revoke the charter, North Star can appeal to the State Board of Education.


  • Richard Evensen

    Mr Cotterell has reported accurately, but entirely missed the mark. The ADA funding for adding 900 students is basically a “break even” proposition for MSD. The real “profit” in gaining those students is to qualify Meridian for an emergency levy. If a district has a certain amount of growth in student count, the local board can vote to impose an additional emergency levy on property owners with out a vote. This is additional funding over and above the state allocation per funding unit. Meridian has been enjoying the fruits of this tree every year for many many years.

  • Tom von Alten

    “Meridian has been enjoying the fruits of this tree every year for many many years.”

    Interesting choice of expression. Forbidden fruit? Out of the Garden of Eden? Perhaps the IEN could summarize how tax rates and per capita expenditures in the MSD compare to other districts.

  • niji masu

    I’m thinking there’s a reason it’s an “emergency” levy. It still seems like a “break even” proposition. 900 kids are going to require more funds, and any additional anemic funds from the state won’t cover it.

  • Richard Evensen

    I am confident that any comparison of MSD spending to any other district or group of districts will clearly show that MSD patrons are getting tremendous value for the dollars spent. Part of this is efficiency of size. You can buy 25 school busses for less per bus than buying one or two. When you have built 25 schools in the last 15 years, you get pretty good at it.

    My point is certainly not to criticize the MSD. The educational opportunities in Meridian are world class. The options for high school students would take pages to explain. Do you want to know how to run an alternative high OR middle school? Ask Meridian.

    I was just trying to explain a tiny part of the very complex school funding formula in Idaho.

    The way that charter schools exploit the small district favoritism formula is the most interesting kernel in this conundrum.