Bill Description: Senate Bill 1042 would expand the cap on a program that enables charter schools to obtain lower interest rates on bonds for facility construction or improvements. It would also remove a provision that requires proof of above-average proficiency on the Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), which reportedly prevented some schools serving 100% at-risk students from participating.
NOTE: The amendment to Senate Bill 1042 does not change our rating or analysis of the bill.
Does the bill expand the existing government monopoly on education and shrink family and student choice or agency? (-) Conversely, does the bill expand the ability for families and students to choose the educational options that best meet their needs free of government intervention or coercion? (+)
Senate Bill 1042 would expand the cap on an existing public charter school facilities program. This means that more charter schools will be able to apply to participate and obtain lower interest rates on bonds. By making it easier for charter schools to secure loans, Senate Bill 1042 creates more competition in the education marketplace. Charter schools are schools of choice. Encouraging their growth by making it easier for them to obtain loans to improve or expand facilities will give families more educational options to choose from.
Does the bill decrease barriers to entry for teachers and other education professionals or services, thus incentivizing entrepreneurship and increasing the supply of options for education services in the marketplace? (+) Conversely, does the bill create barriers to entry into the education marketplace? (-)
The public charter school facilities program is an existing program that enables charter schools to obtain lower interest rates on bonds. The program is capped at a funding amount equal to “the percentage of all Idaho public school students attending public charter schools multiplied by the par amount of the bonds guaranteed under the Idaho school bond guaranty act.” Senate Bill 1042 would double this cap, thus enabling more charter schools to participate.
By enabling more existing charter schools to obtain lower interest rates on bonds, Senate Bill 1042 facilitates the growth of charter schools throughout the state, thus increasing the supply of options for education services in the marketplace and improving the quality of existing charter schools for the students who attend them.
Does the bill reinforce the idea of equal treatment under the law, merit, individual responsibility, personal agency, and expectations of academic excellence? (+) Conversely, does the bill allow for any type of discrimination against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group for any purpose on the basis of race, sex, color, economic class, ethnicity, national origin, geographic area, legacy status, or other identity group? (-)
Analyst’s Note: Senate Bill 1042 exempts charter schools whose student body is composed entirely of at-risk students from needing to provide “evidence of strong academic results, including above average growth or proficiency on the Idaho standards achievement test” in order to participate in the program. With this restriction removed, such schools are able to apply for loans.
Allowing charter schools without high academic performance to receive loans to continue to operate or even expand undermines expectations of academic excellence. It may perpetuate the operations of schools that fail to fulfill their core purpose of educating students.
However, at-risk students struggle to thrive in a traditional educational environment, and they make up the entire study body of some charter schools. Making it easier for these schools to obtain loans to improve or build facilities helps such students access educational environments that fit their specific needs.