Eye On Boise

Senate Ed passes bill to lift cap on new charter schools on 5-4 vote

The Senate Education Committee has voted 5-4 in favor of HB 481, Rep. Bob Nonini's House-passed bill to lift Idaho's caps on creation of new charter schools - both the six-per-year statewide limit and the one-per-school-district limit. Backers said removing the caps would make Idaho appear more "charter-friendly" and allow it to attract federal and private foundation grants, but some committee members said they were given no proof of that. Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise, moved to hold the bill in committee until proof was provided, but his substitute motion died on a 4-5 vote. The original motion from Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Meridian, to send the bill to the full Senate with a recommendation that it "do pass" then passed, 5-4.

Opponents of the measure said Idaho school districts that already face shrinking funding due to declining enrollment could be hit hard if multiple charter schools opened in their districts, siphoning away the funding from existing schools. "This may be a good idea, but I don't think we're ready for it yet," said Sen. John Andreason, R-Boise, who opposed the bill. "I just don't think it's time."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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