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State-Funded Charter Schools Supported Bill Called Creative Way To Start Schools Free Of Regulations

A bill allowing the formation of charter schools with state funding has been sent to the full House for consideration.

The House Education Committee on Monday voted for legislation prepared by Rep. Fred Tillman, R-Boise, although it will be put up for amendment.

Tillman called the bill a creative way to start schools free from a lot of government regulation. “If parents, teachers or businesses want to start up a charter school, they could negotiate with the local school board to set it up,” he told committee members.

Under the legislation, a charter school would enjoy state funding determined on a per-pupil basis. But the people who start the school would not be saddled by the rules and regulations that guide curriculum, busing and other matters in existing public schools.

No parochial or private school could qualify.

“It’s getting away from the voluminous litany of rules and regulations and forcing the school to be accountable in terms of student performance,” Tillman said.

Testimony on the bill was mixed, with some parents supporting the concept. The Idaho PTA spoke against the bill, as did some school administrators.

Tom Morley, Sugar-Salem superintendent, favored the bill.

“I feel it’s time to innovate, to eliminate the strings and find out what works and doesn’t work,” he said. “It is intuitively, a good idea.”

Rory Jones, Boise School Board member, said he’s concerned that the state board has final approval.

“We need accountability in government,” Jones said. “To allow the state board to override decisions of the local districts is flawed … It’s anti-local control.”

Several people worried that charter schools would only serve the “cream of the crop” and leave lessmotivated students behind.