Public School Funding Formula Speech

The Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families Speech at the Joint Senate/ House Education Committee from 02/07/2019:

Tom LeClaire

1923 E Pratt

Meridian, ID 83642



Mr. Chairman and members of the committee,


My name is Tom LeClaire and I am the president of the Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families.  We are a Coalition of parents, grandparents, students and teachers who support the expansion of school choice in Idaho, equal funding for charter schools, and funding that "follows the child" to the school of their choice.   I am here today to support the public-school funding formula change.


The new funding formula will be more student-centered and less program-centered.  There will be more local control and spending flexibility for school districts, full funding will follow students as they move from one school to another, and charter schools will be better funded. 


Many charter school students fall under the specially weighted groups in the model such as mobile students, at-risk students, ELL students, and students with disabilities. The current funding formula punishes charter schools for taking on many of these special students.


The new formula is more student-centered and will allow for funding to better follow students as they move from one school to another. This will have a positive effect for charter schools in Idaho and the students that rely on and need them.


Voters in Idaho also support school choice and I think they will support your efforts to modernize the funding formula.  Over 70% of voters support charter schools and improving school choice for parents. 


The Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families will be vigilant during this session of the Idaho Legislature to be sure that the new student-centered funding formula does not get "watered down."  During this legislative process we will have parent advocates available to help you learn and support school choice.


We want school choice to get the fair funding it deserves. We hope you consider the families that we represent and vote for this new funding model.


Thank you for giving us this opportunity to promote school choice and offer support for improving the public school funding formula.

Another day, another attack on virtual charter schools in Idaho

“Another day, another attack on virtual charter schools in Idaho”


Recently, there has been an article published called “How is Idaho Charter School Performance Like a Clint Eastwood Movie?” on the Idaho Ed News website from the CEO of BLUUM, Terry Ryan. This article breaks down his charter school views into three categories; the good, the bad and the ugly. The ugly being virtual charter schools in Idaho.

Link to article

This article is a direct attack on virtual charter school families in the state of Idaho. This constant attack on our virtual schools fails to understand the many important and personal reasons these families chose the virtual school environment. As we have said for many years, the option for school choice should be provided for every family to the school that they see fit. There are many Idaho families that have chosen virtual schooling due to bullying, health concerns, military families, etc. This article from BLUUM once again fails to reason with the many challenges facing virtual option families.

Along with the personal reasons that these schools help families, the article also created a negative break down on the performance of online charter schools in Idaho. To quote the article, “we promised to, increase the number of quality charter schools seats by 8,200 students, especially for our most educationally disadvantaged and rural students”. The charter schools under BLUUM enroll students that are educationally disadvantaged, in-poverty or with disabilities, at a severely lower rate than that of virtual schools. In fact, virtual schools enroll about 10% more students in poverty than brick-and-mortar charter school in Idaho.

There are many current successes in Idaho’s virtual schools. In fact, Idaho Virtual Academy’s 2018 High School ISAT proficiency levels in ELA and Math were both higher than the state averages. On top of that, Idaho Virtual Academy has increased their graduation 43.2% in the past five years. 

Parents and students in Idaho are capable of choosing what educational model works best for them. We don’t need higher elitist charter school groups telling us what works for our student and what doesn’t.

Coalition Response to CREDO presentations at House/ Education Committees

RELEASE: Idaho Parents Respond to CREDO's Attack on Parent/Student Choice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Today’s CREDO report diminishes the important personal reasons many students and parents choose a virtual school environment, according to the Idaho parents who comprise the Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families. In addition, it ignores vital data about the current success enjoyed by virtual schools in Idaho.

Marjie Magee, Coalition board member said, “If it wasn’t such a serious assault on the well-being of my family and my child, I would almost be able to laugh at the concept of a so-called expert from the Bay Area, California lecturing Idaho parents on the best education options for our families,” said Marjie. “While these so-called experts turn my child into just another number on their spreadsheets, I am the one sitting across from him/her at the kitchen table. Virtual education works for my child and thousands of families across Idaho and the nation. No amount of manipulated, cherry-picked data from these self-appointed experts can change that fundamental, unalterable truth.”

A few actual facts for context:

-Idaho Virtual Academy’s graduation rate improved 7 percentage points to 67% from the 2017 cohort to the 2018 cohort. It has improved from 23.8% in 2014 to 67% now, a 43.2 percentage point increase in just five years.

-IDVA’s 2018 ISAT proficiency levels in ELA and math were both higher than the state average.

“It’s simple, choice is good for parents and it’s good for students,” Marjie said. “Maybe next time the so-called experts from California can spend less time on their spreadsheets and more time speaking with the people whose lives their trying to disrupt.”

September Update!

Parents, students, teachers and charter school advocates. The Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families has been closely watching the Idaho Public School Funding Formula Committee since its inception a few years back. It is now time for them to come up with a plan and change our funding from attendance-based to enrollment based funding. 

This type of funding is helpful for virtual charter schools and for rural schools in Idaho as the state pays based on how many students are enrolled at the school. The committee is wanting to allow weighted programs to receive more funding per student enrolled in the follow areas: technology programs, students enrolled in a class with a teacher that qualifies for the career ladder program, students enrolled in career counselling programs, English Language Learners and of course, at-risk students. This is critical for the schools represented by the coalition as there are many at-risk students that get left behind in Idaho. 

The committee needs to hear parents stories as we progress towards the next meeting. If you or someone you know are interested in attending the next meeting for the Idaho Public School Funding Formula Committee please reach out to us. We NEED your support!! Let's help our kids obtain better funding! 

The next meeting:

Thursday, October 25th, 2018
State Capitol
Room EW 42

700 W. Jefferson St.
Boise, Idaho 83720


Please e-mail if you have any questions!



Kevin Richert 09/24/2018 via 

Lawmakers spent most of a Monday morning public hearing playing around with numbers — to see what a new funding formula would do for, or to, individual school districts.

But anyone else who wants to do the math is out of luck.

That’s because the legislators and their consultants are tinkering around with a spreadsheet that isn’t available to the public.

Ultimately, the math affects nearly 300,000 students across the state. A new funding formula — if adopted by the 2019 Legislature — could change the way the state distributes more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars that go to K-12.

Which takes us to Monday — and the public but not wholly transparent legislative math exercise.

For months, consultants with the Denver-based Education Commission of the States has been working on a possible formula rewrite. The 2017 Legislature earmarked $400,000 for the consultants’ work.

The ECS spreadsheet represents the centerpiece of the consultants’ taxpayer-funded work product. And it was the focal point of the committee’s discussion Monday morning. Lawmakers ran through a range of scenarios — looking at how the numbers would change depending on a host of adjustments.

For example, if the state earmarks more money to help English language learners, districts with a higher percentage of ELL learners would stand to benefit. And all districts would do better if lawmakers put another $100 million into the K-12 budget — but there would still be winners and losers. Even with a $100 million infusion of money, some districts could get fewer dollars than they received the previous year, depending on the overall structure of the formula.

The 10 members of the Legislature’s school funding formula committee have had access to the ECS spreadsheet, before Monday morning’s hearing at the Statehouse. At least one lawmaker in the audience, House Education Committee member Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, had access to the spreadsheet and followed along on his laptop. The rest of the audience watched the number-crunching as it unfolded on three projector screens in the committee room.

The spreadsheet could be publicly available in about a week, Michael Griffith of ECS told Idaho Education News. Consultants are still working on adjustments, and Griffith says he has been reluctant to release the spreadsheet until it’s finished.

The funding formula rewrite is in its third year. And the process also came under scrutiny earlier this year.

This June, ECS consultants held a series of closed-door focus group sessions with school administrators. The public and the news media were barred from these sessions, and even committee members and State Department of Education staffers were not allowed to attend. The Idaho Press Club, a media statewide organization, asked lawmakers to reconsider this approach, but the closed meetings went on as planned. 

May Newsletter: Virtual Schools under attack!


      The Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families has decided that we need to stand up against recent criticism of our schools. The past three months, there have been articles written by different groups in Idaho that are against virtual schooling and the idea of school choice. These articles point out negatives and neglect to show the educational opportunity that these schools provide for many Idaho families. The articles below highlight a philosophy of only allowing elite charter schools in Idaho and that the under performing schools don't fit their model. This model creates a more regulatory environment that is hostile to charter innovation and creation. Charter schools began under the principle of school choice and innovation. This is a model that is intended to fit the specific student and provide an opportunity that allows them to be successful.

    We can't allow these types of groups to decide whether our schools work or not. This is now a situation that calls for parental help! These types of groups have shut down school similar to ours in different states. We need more parents that want to get involved in our group and help save our schools from potential closures. 

We will be holding a meeting with board members and friends of virtual schools. 

Friday, July 13th, 2018 @1:00PM
821 W. State Street
Boise, ID 83702

If you're interested in learning more and helping us fight back then please respond to this e-mail and join us!

These are the recent attack articles. Please read below...