North Star charter fights possible shutdown

One of Idaho’s largest charter schools is taking its case against the Meridian School District to the State Board of Education.

North Star Charter School officials filed an appeal to the State Board Tuesday — saying their 10-year-old school has a proven record of academic success and is on sound financial footing.

In June, the Meridian School Board voted to begin the process of revoking the school’s charter, saying North Star remains on shaky financial footing.

Jim Miller
Jim Miller, North Star Charter School

“The motivation behind the Meridian School District’s decision to try and close the school needs to be questioned by our community and ultimately the Idaho State Board of Education,” North Star board chairman Jim Miller said Wednesday. “Closing North Star is unacceptable based on the school’s demonstrated academic success and current enrollment.  Not to mention that we have demonstrated fiscal soundness.”

The question of financial soundness is at the heart of the dispute between North Star and the Meridian district, the state’s largest district.

In June, North Star touted a financial rescue plan — designed to erase the school’s $650,000 shortfall and allow the school to defer $850,000 in bank payments until June 30, 2014. Miller said the plan would provide North Star breathing room, and time to address its long-term fiscal problems by refinancing its building debt.

Board members were skeptical. They said that the school had taken no steps to refinance a building loan, which currently carries a 9.75 percent interest rate. They also said North Star had no plan to pay the $850,000 — and if creditors demanded their money, North Star could close abruptly, forcing the Meridian district to absorb more than 900 students from the charter school.

Check back later for more details about this story.

More reading: Click here to read North Star’s summary of its appeal.