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Blackfoot school superintendent urges lawmakers to address funding for all schools, not just charters

The House Education Committee is taking back up HB 206 this morning, the charter school facilities funding bill. Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, explained that when the committee passed the bill on Tuesday and a committee member inquired about possibly amending the bill, “Maybe I wasn’t as clear as I could have been,” so he chose to pull the bill back for further consideration.

Mark Gabrylczyk, superintendent of the Snake River School District in Blackfoot, spoke against the bill. “I’m currently in the financial condition that I’m going to have to cut $800,000 from our school budget,” he told the committee. “That is a very significant cut for our school district. Our school district is actually dying on the vine because of lack of funding.” It’s also ranked as the lowest market-value district in Idaho, he said; now, it’s relying on a tax levy bid to avoid the cut. “If I don’t pass my levy, we will have major layoffs in our school district. Activities will be cut. And I would hope that this body would start working on a funding mechanism that works for all of our schools, including charter schools,” Gabrylczyk told lawmakers.

“As you consider 206, I would like you to even the playing field,” he told the committee. “I don’t believe that we should be giving an extra stipend to charter schools to help them with the levy and bond issues that they have, because I have a levy myself. … In addition, if you decide to go with the stipend to the charter schools, I would ask you to go ahead and let them levy and bond just like I do.”

He said, “Charter schools are about choice. … If it is about choice for patrons, we need to make a choice for all of our community on whether or not I do levy or bond for charter schools or for the public school system.”


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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