On Monday, the Idaho House approved a measure to remove a cap on charter schools that can be created each year in the state, an effort representatives have pushed several times in the past few years.
The measure comes with a new twist because not only does it remove the statewide cap, but it removes the limitation that prevents creation of more than one charter school per district annually.
The bill, sponsored by Reps. Bob Nonini, R-Post Falls, and Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, cleared on a 49-19 vote and heads to the Idaho Senate for consideration.
Nonini and Bayer teamed up to push the bill on the House floor, with Nonini saying cap removal would help the more than 8,000 students on the charter school waiting list. “We need to do something to address that,” he said.
Bayer complemented that argument, saying that the caps make Idaho seem “unfriendly” to school choice and often disqualify Idaho for federal and private education grants.
Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, said that while he supports the charter concept, he cannot get behind cap removal because it would lead to a “free for all” of unregulated school creation. He also pointed out that the cap hasn’t been hit in its eight years of existence, with three or four new charter schools coming on line annually.
“The current system isn’t broken,” Cronin warned. “There was a good reason we established a cap eight year ago and nothing has changed since then.”
But Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Star, says that while cap removal might mean more charter schools, it won’t mean less regulation and oversight. “It takes 29 months before they can open their doors,” DeMourdant said. “It’s not like this is overnight happening. Eliminating the cap does not make it easier to open a charter school.”
The bill heads to the Senate.
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