Charter renewals could be extended to 12-year terms

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission endorsed draft legislation Thursday proposing substantive amendments to laws governing the schools it authorizes.

The commission evaluates new charter school petitions and oversees the financial, academic and operational effectiveness of schools it approved. Authorizers protect the interest of students and taxpayers by holding schools accountable to performance outcomes. The public charter commission authorizes 60 out of Idaho’s 74 schools. Traditional school districts authorize 14 charters.

The six-person commission voted unanimously to accept and endorse a 25-page draft bill for lawmaker consideration in the upcoming session. To see a full copy of the bill, use this link.

Alex Adams

“Outstanding!” said commission chairman Alan Reed, after the vote passed.

Interim director Alex Adams, Gov. Brad Little’s budget chief, described the draft legislation as striking a balance between autonomy and accountability, “where appropriate.”

An array of charter school leaders and advocates praised Adams’ policy leadership and collaborative approach.

“Everyone was working for the same goal,” Reed said.

Five of the proposed changes are:

  • Amend the initial charter term from five years to six years.
  • Schools that meet their six-year performance criteria can be renewed for a 12-year term.
  • Grant a “pilot charter” with an initial term of three years for untested, innovative models.
  • Charters that successfully complete their renewals can apply for fast-track replication for additional campuses sharing the same operational model.
  • Schools operating under the same education model can operate under one LEA.

Extending the renewal term for up to 12 years provides highly successful schools with stability and allows them to obtain favorable financing terms. And the commission can then place its focus and support on schools that need assistance.

Several education leaders spoke in favor of the proposals. Karen McGee, former president, Idaho State Board of Education, said the commission was deviating from its original mission and this legislation will remove cumbersome regulations. Terry Ryan, CEO of Bluum, spoke in favor of the changes. Bluum is a nonprofit that supports charter growth in Idaho.

The regular session of the 67th Idaho Legislature starts Monday, Jan. 8. Idaho Education News will provide updates as the draft bill moves through the Legislature.

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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