House Education Committee supports charter school funding measure


Gov. Butch Otter receivied a firsthand look at a natural gas well last week from representatives of Alta Mesa energy company.

The House Education Committee Tuesday approved a bill that, if it becomes law, would allow the state’s charter schools to receive funding that, at present, is only available to traditional K-12 schools.

Jason Hancock, deputy chief of staff at the Idaho Department of Education, presented House Bill 206 to the committee. If it becomes law, the bill would move charter school funding closer to parity with traditional, district-operated schools.

Under current Idaho law, charter schools receive similar portions of state funding as traditional schools. Yet property tax revenues that are collected by local school districts are only spent on traditional schools, with charter schools prohibited from receiving any portion of them.

“I’m very concerned about the underfunding of charter schools, as well as the underfunding of public schools,” said Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, as she expressed her disapproval for the measure. Ward-Engelking, and other Democrat members of the committee, expressed concern that HB 206 would take money away from traditional schools.

“Can we be assured that this will not mean less funds for education?” Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls), asked Hancock during testimony. Hancock responded that the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) establishes education funding budgets, and that HB 206 would not alter JFAC’s budgeting procedures.

The bill passed in the committee along partisan lines, with all Democrat committee members voting “no.” It now will face consideration of the full House.

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