If legislation authorizing charter schools becomes law next year, Idaho’s first charter schools could open as early as next fall.
Rep. Fred Tilman, R-Boise, chairman of the House Education Committee, has been pushing the concept for years without success, but he said Friday he’s optimistic the Legislature might allow charter schools on an experimental basis starting next year.
If the law went into effect July 1, the date most new laws start, that would allow the first charter schools to start operating that fall. But Tilman said who applies for charters will depend to a large extent on the final version of the law.
Charter schools would be part of the state educational system, but would be allowed to operate without many of the public restraints.
Tilman assured members of the state Board of Education, meeting at Boise State University, that charter schools will remain under their authority.
“They are public schools in every sense of the word,” he said, including public funding.
Tilman and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Gary Schroeder of Moscow, headed a study committee that spent months working on the proposal. Education Board members told Tilman they will submit recommendations for changes to the draft legislation in time for the study committee’s last meeting in January.
The bill would allow up to 12 charter schools to be authorized each school year, for five years. After five years or 60 charter schools are in operation, Tilman said the program would come up for review.
Decisions on whether to grant charters are up to local school boards, but appeals would be decided by the state board.