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Eye On Boise

Wed., Feb. 22, 2012, 8:19 a.m.

Charter school advocates say cap keeps Idaho from getting federal, private foundation grants

HB 481, Rep. Bob Nonini's bill to lift both of Idaho's current caps on creation of new charter schools - the six per year total statewide, and the one new one per year per school district - is up for a hearing in Nonini's House Education Committee this morning. Rep. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, Nonini's co-sponsor, told the committee that the cap "limits Idaho's competitiveness for federal grants," and also may be keeping some private foundations from awarding grants to Idaho charter schools. "The existence of the cap is limiting opportunity to bring non-state funds into the state for charter schools," Bayer said.

Diane Demarest, executive director of the Idaho Charter School Network, said pro-charter groups have ranked state laws, and the cap caused Idaho's laws to be ranked poorly. "With a ranking of 32, Idaho is not viewed as a very charter-friendly state, regardless of the position of both our governor and our superintendent and our Legislature," she said. That's kept some pro-charter foundations including the Walton Foundation from  deciding to send funds to Idaho, she said.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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