Interim director outlines how more staff will improve outcomes

The agency’s 2024 budget increased by approximately $48,000 to account for cost of living increases. However, the Legislature denied a request for two additional staff.

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission will continue to try and convince state lawmakers that the agency needs more staff.

EdNews recently published an in-depth investigation of the PCSC’s recent struggles and potential options to its staffing and funding shortfalls. Click here to see the story.

Despite agreement from the State Department of Education and Gov. Brad Little, Legislators rejected a request for additional staffing in the 2024 fiscal year. Instead, lawmakers appropriated the same amount as the previous year ($656,228), with a cost of living increase of $48,000.

The two requested positions were identified as needed because of the continued growth of the agency’s portfolio, according to a commission report.

Interim director Melissa-Jo Rivera said, “As the portfolio continues to grow, and rapidly, the need for additional staff to meet our statutory obligations is necessary.”

At the next legislative session in 2024, state lawmakers will see a new request for three additional staff: a program manager, a technical records specialist and a data coordinator.

The IPCSC currently employs two program managers who are each responsible for 31 schools.

“The outcome of that one addition is more communication, consistent oversight and providing preventive support,” Rivera said.

An additional records specialist will allow managers to be more efficient and effective, according to the agency’s documents.

“Much of the work we do is manual data entry,” Rivera said, so a data coordinator “would support all staff in this area, and minimize any areas needing correction.”

The agency faced recent incidents where errors played a significant role in the outcome.

Rivera suggested a “cost-neutral means of scaling the agency” to meet the increasing workload of its managers. 

“The cost of Program Managers can be absorbed at no cost to the general fund and no additional cost to existing schools simply by increasing the dedicated fund appropriation request by the amount of fees to be paid by the new schools,” she said.

During its regular meeting last week, the commission accepted Rivera’s recommendations and voted to approve the 2024 and proposed 2025 budgets.

Legislative update for charter schools

Program manager Jared Dawson provided the commission with a legislative update. The following list is compiled from Dawson’s presentation.

HB113 – Amends existing law regarding certain procedures for charter and virtual schools. Status: transmitted to the governor for signature.

S1042 – Amends existing law to exempt certain public charter schools from having to demonstrate strong academic results to qualify for the Public Charter School Facilities Program and to revise a limitation on issuing bonds under the Public Charter School Facilities Program. Status: signed by the governor.

S1043 – Repeals and adds to existing law to remove the Public Charter School Debt Reserve Fund and to provide for a revolving loan fund. Status: signed by the governor.

H343 – Relates to the appropriation to the Public Charter School Commission for fiscal year 2024. Status: transmitted to the governor for signature.

H314 – Amends and adds to existing law to prohibit certain materials from being promoted, given, or made available to a minor by a school or public library and to provide a cause of action. Status: transmitted to the governor for signature.

HCR17 – States findings of the Legislature and rejects certain rules of the State Board of Education relating to Rules Governing Public Charter Schools and Rules of the Public Charter School Commission. Status: Referred to State Department of Education.

SCR107 – States findings of the Legislature and rejects a certain rule of the State Board of Education relating to Registration of Postsecondary Educational Institutions and Proprietary Schools. Status: Referred to Secretary of State.

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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