Statehouse roundup, 1.23.24: New charter school overhaul bill introduced

The Public Charter School Commission would remain under the purview of the State Board of Education in a new version of a charter school overhaul bill. 

That’s one major change in a fresh draft of the sweeping legislation first introduced last week by Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale. The original bill made the Charter Commission a self-governing agency. 

“We did hear the comments from the committee and the public,” Boyle said Tuesday. “It’s back under the State Board, where it should be.”

Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale

The second draft is also five pages longer, which didn’t ease concerns of some lawmakers who seemed overwhelmed by the first draft and remained skeptical Tuesday. 

“I’m troubled, in general, by the 36-page bill, which has an indeterminate number of moving parts in it,” said Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise. “I’m not confident that I even know what I’m voting on.”

Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise

Otherwise, the bill appears to be largely the same. Supporters have said the overhaul incorporates lessons learned since the state opened the door to charter schools in 1998. The tweaks include: 

  • Allowing new charter schools to operate for six years, up from five years, while established charters could get a 12-year renewal
  • Allowing charter holders with multiple schools to enroll as a single local education agency 
  • Allowing charter schools to operate day care and after school programs as long as they don’t use state funds
  • Creating a special category of “pilot charters,” which are granted three-year terms to “test an innovative or novel model”
  • Allowing charter schools to receive funding from private organizations 

Charter Commission board members last month voted to endorse the bill, and the governor’s office has vetted it.

Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, asked the bill sponsors to provide a one-page summary of major changes from the original draft before the committee hosts a public hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. 

Rep. Soñia Galaviz, D-Boise, requested that sponsors invite stakeholders who would be impacted by the legislation. 

“They all weighed in on this,” Boyle responded. “I’m sure they’ll be here.”

Ryan Suppe

Ryan Suppe

Senior reporter Ryan Suppe covers education policy, focusing on K-12 schools. He previously reported on state politics, local government and business for newspapers in the Treasure Valley and Eastern Idaho. A Nevada native, Ryan enjoys golf, skiing and movies. Follow him on Twitter: @ryansuppe. Contact him at [email protected]

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