Little ‘actively working’ to fill two unexpected charter commission vacancies

Gov. Brad Little has two unexpected openings on the Idaho Public Charter School Commission — and, apparently, no set schedule for filling them.

“The governor is actively working with the Charter School Commission to fill the vacancies on the commission,” Madison Hardy, a spokeswoman for Little, said late Monday. “Finding candidates to serve on time-intensive, volunteer boards is always difficult, but the individual chosen will be someone with knowledge in the education world that can ensure the commission will fulfill its statutory obligations.”

Little has to fill two vacancies on the beleaguered seven-member commission — and both openings were unforeseen.

Brian Scigliano abruptly resigned in March, protesting the commission’s decisions to renew charter agreements with the Idaho Virtual Academy and Boise-based Peace Valley Charter School.

And in an unusual vote Last week, the Senate rejected Little’s nominee for a second charter commission post: longtime Idaho School Boards Association executive director Karen Echeverria. Critics said they wanted a stronger charter advocate on the commission, and the Senate rejected Echeverria’s nomination on a 24-11 vote.

The charter commission has a clear regulatory role. The commission serves as authorizer for 60 of the state’s 72 charter schools.

Regulatory concerns were evidently on Little’s mind on Thursday, when he signed the 2023-24 budget bill for the charter commission, but chided the Legislature for winnowing down his request.

Little had requested a $908,500 budget for the commission, including money for two new hires: a $96,800-a-year program manager, and an $81,000-a-year technical records specialist. The Legislature approved a $728,900 budget that doesn’t fund either new position.

“Without these enhancements, we are putting both state tax dollars, and more importantly, the education of our children at risk,” Little write in a letter to House Speaker Mike Moyle, explaining his decision to sign the budget bill.

The charter commission budget took a circuitous path through the Legislature.

The House had voted down a first version of the budget — which didn’t include the records specialist, but did fund the program manager, over the objections of some lawmakers. Opponents said the position would have led only to unnecessary charter regulation.

When that budget failed, lawmakers wrote the downsized spending plan that ultimately passed both houses and landed on Little’s desk.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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