House passes another charter school bill

The second of two major new charter school bills cleared the House floor Wednesday.

House Bill 221 would allow Idaho colleges, universities and some 501 (c)(3) nonprofits to authorize new charter schools. School boards and the Idaho Public Charter School Commission now authorize new charter schools.

It passed 48-19, and heads to the Senate.

A day earlier, its “companion bill” House Bill 206 passed the House 42-27.

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Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree

Backers of House Bill 221 said it is another way to promote school choice.

“Our whole goal was to come up with legislation that would address and bring up to speed our charter school laws that hadn’t been addressed for a number of years,” said Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree.

Opponents countered that the bill amounts threaten cash-strained traditional public school districts and would likely allow more charter schools to be created. As a result, these new charter schools would be able to tap the facilities funding called for in House Bill 206.

“This is a franchising of charter schools to all kind other entities in the state,” said Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise. “Sooner or later we will hit an upper limit where we cannot sustain charter schools and public schools.”

The bill also creates performance contracts for charter schools, requires charters to be reauthorized and establishes oversight for nonprofits seeking to authorize new charter schools.

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Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Bois.

How they voted

Yes (48 Republicans, 0 Democrats): Agidius, Anderson (1), Anderson (31), Anderst, Barbieri, Bateman, Batt, Bedke, Bell, Bolz, Boyle, Clow, Collins, Crane, Dayley, DeMordaunt, Denney, Eskridge, Gestrin, Harris, Hartgen, Henderson, Hixon, Holtzclaw, Kauffman, Malek, McMillan, Mendive, Miller, Monks, Morse, Moyle, Nielsen, Packer, Palmer, Patterson, Perry, Raybould, Romrell, Shepherd, Sims, Stevenson, Trujillo, VanOrden, Vander Woude, Wood (27), Wood (35) and Youngblood.

No (6 Republicans, 13 Democrats): Andrus, Barrett, Burgoyne, Chew, Erpelding, Gannon, Gibbs, Hancey, King, Kloc, Loertscher, Luker, Meline, Pence, Ringo, Rusche, Smith and Ward-Engelking and Woodings.

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