State Board extends temporary K-12 funding change, grants hearing for embattled charter school

Updated Friday, April 22 at 7:07 p.m., with clarification about Another Choice Virtual Charter School’s appeal hearing. 

Idaho will use student enrollment as a school funding metric for the third straight year.

And an embattled charter school previously ordered to shut down has another chance to stay open.

Both decisions capped off the State Board of Education’s second and final day of meetings at the University of Idaho Thursday.

The school funding change extends a prior temporary rule to use student enrollment, not average daily attendance, to carve up state K-12 funds. The extension applies to the 2022-23 school year and will expire when the 2023 Legislature wraps up.

The State Board approved the same switch in each of the last two school years in an effort to delink funding from volatile attendance numbers, which have plagued schools since the pandemic hit.

The change is aimed at stabilizing school funding by divvying out dollars for students who enroll, even if they don’t show up. And the change comes with a cost: around $22 million in pre-appropriated funds.

The shift solves a school funding issue, but only temporarily, leaders acknowledged.

“We haven’t solved a long-term problem,” State Board member Linda Clark said, referring to the rule change’s periodic nature. “We still have work to do.”

Lawmakers this session passed a bill to make the switch permanent. Gov. Brad Little vetoed the bill last month, saying he’d support another temporary switch if attendance dropoffs surface.

State Board chief planning and policy officer Tracie Bent told board members Thursday that dropoffs are still prevalent.

The rule change already received the go-ahead from the governor, State Board spokesman Mike Keckler told EdNews after Thursday’s meeting.

Another Choice gets another chance

Board members followed the funding change up with a unanimous vote to grant an appeal hearing to Another Choice Virtual Charter School, which did not receive renewal privileges earlier this year.

The 500-student online school appealed the Idaho Public Charter School Commission’s Feb. 11 decision not to renew the school’s performance certificate. The commission cited problems ranging from low and stagnant student achievement to various board and administrative oversight issues. Click here for more on prior issues at the school.

The commission’s decision included a directive for the school to begin closure procedures on June 30, but the State Board has the final say.

Thursday’s decision allows State Board executive director Matt Freeman to appoint a hearing officer to hold a public hearing within 43 days, and to make a recommendation to the board regarding the matter at a later date.

The State Board will then make a final decision on whether or not to renew the school’s charter.

The charter commission operates under the State Board’s direction.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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