National School Choice Week and Legislative Update

National School Choice Week

1/22/18 - 1/27/18

It is the time of year when bills are being passed and the Idaho legislature has just begun. This also means another year for the nationally celebrated School Choice Week! We as a Coalition are inviting everyone to come celebrate down at the Idaho State Capitol this week from 10:00AM- 1:30PM. We will be handing out cookies and information about how you can get involved with the Coalition. We are always looking for parents that want to help with our cause! 

Follow these links for more information: 


Legislative Update:

The Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families testified in front of the Senate Education Committee on Monday, January 15th at the Idaho State Capitol. Coalition Manager (Murphy Olmstead) spoke on behalf of our president, Tom LeClaire. The agenda for the Senate Education Committee was to have different stakeholders in Idaho answer a few specific questions for the upcoming year. One of the questions asked from the committee to the stakeholders was to see what the Coalition was doing differently from last year that enhances student growth & achievement? Mr. Olmstead explained the Coalitions objective for equal funding for charter schools as well as for virtual schools. This has been a continued effort from the Coalition  and will remain consistent until it has been accomplished. The next item Mr. Olmstead suggested that the Coalition will do differently was to advocate more for a student-centered learning system that meets state and federal accountability measures. He explained that this change would present a more well-rounded picture of school performance. 

The second question asked by the committee was to name something that the Coalition is not doing, that will enhance student growth and achievement? Mr. Olmstead reiterated the ultimate goal of the Coalition as followed; "we as a coalition will continue our advocacy for school choice, innovation in the classroom and adequate funding for virtual students. Our ultimate goal is to help parents find the right education model that fits the student and makes them successful". There has been a dual-track of measurement in Idaho for what is considered a "high-performing" charter school. These different regulations have been a burden for many virtual charter schools as head of schools are getting their time taken away from real education. 

The final update from the Coaltiion of Idaho Charter School Families was to discuss the goal of traveling more to rural communities in Idaho. Mr. Olmstead discussed how this would enhance school growth and achievement by hearing from the smaller communities of Idaho. There are issues that need to be heard and the Coalition wants to represent each charter family in Idaho of what is working well for their student and what needs to be improved. 


Recent News:



Clark Corbin 01/22/2018

State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra said demonstrating a return on investment will be the theme of her budget presentation later this week.

Ybarra is scheduled to present her K-12 public schools budget request at 8 a.m. Thursday in front of the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. Ybarra said she focused her first term in office on implementing the 2013 Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education recommendations, and she’s well aware the stakes are high.

“That’s the theme of the budget, return on investment, or the stockholders’ report,” Ybarra said Monday.

When she takes her turn in front of JFAC, Ybarra will ask lawmakers to increase K-12 funding by 6.8 percent. The major initiative driving her budget is a request to increase funding for educators’ salaries and benefits by $46 million through the career ladder salary law. Another big budget driver for Ybarra is a request to increase the state’s investment in classroom technology by $8.6 million next year.

“One of the main asks will be the career ladder ask,” Ybarra said. “Again that was the No. 1 priority of all the stakeholders when we met, that we show our support for that.”

Even though Ybarra makes her budget presentation Thursday, she has been preparing the 2018-19 school budget since last year. In July, Ybarra’s staff met with the leaders of several education groups, which unanimously called for continued investment in teacher salaries. During that meeting, education groups also asked Ybarra’s deputies to increase funding for discretionary spending, a funding source that is sometimes called operations funding. Ybarra heeded their call, requesting the state increase its discretionary funding investment by $19 million next year.

One of the biggest differences between Gov. Butch Otter’s budget proposals and Ybarra’s is discretionary spending — Otter has not recommended any increased funding in that area.

Budgets, salaries, grad rates: See data relating to Idaho public schools »

“Preparation (for developing the budget) is all year long,” Ybarra said. “You have meetings with stakeholders, of course we meet with the governor’s office, then you need to sit down and sketch that out. It’s not something I would sit and do in a vacuum.”

The public schools budget presentation is one of the most closely watched and scrutinized hearings of the session because of the amount of money in play. Public school funding is the state’s largest expense each year, and accounts for about 48 percent of all general fund spending.

“As a matter of fact, Wednesday night I’m sure I will be up all night long excited,” Ybarra said. 

November Newsletter

Upcoming Board Meeting: Wednesday, December 18th at 1:00PM

We need more parent advocates that are willing to get involved and help our cause!!! 

The article below in the recent news section was from the recent house-passed tax bill. This bill is going to cause problems for constructions costs with charter schools across the country. 

Anyone interested in attending, we accommodate to any parents that want to know more or get involved. These meetings are for anyone who wants to come so please share with fellow charter parents.

Please call Murphy Olmstead at (208) 871-3885 if you're planning to attend.

The meeting will be held at the Idaho Wheat Commission building in downtown Boise near the Capitol. 
821 W. State Street
Boise, ID 83702

Recent News:


National and local charter school groups criticized the tax cut bill the U.S. House passed earlier this month.
They say H.R. 1 will make it more expensive for charter schools to finance building projects. That’s because the bill would ban charter schools from using several tax credits and tax-free bonds to cover construction costs.
In Idaho’s case, three charter schools have started $25 million in projects over the past month. Without tax credits and tax-free bonds, the cost of these projects could double, the Idaho Charter School Network said in a statement Monday.
The Senate version of the tax bill preserves the credits.

Read more 

Thank you to everyone who came to our Scavenger Hunt!

We really enjoyed talking and learning about the charter school parents. We hope everyone had a great time and learned how they can help our cause. A special thank you to Idaho Virtual Academy staff and parents/ students!

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A word from our President!

 Here is a piece written by our President, Tom LeClaire. Keep your eyes out for a chance to read it in the Idaho Statesman as well!

"The Idaho Constitutions says the legislature "is to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools."  Many legislators and education stake-holders are concerned that our state is not meeting this mandate.  A special legislative committee is considering major changes to Idaho’s public school funding formula, including a shift to a student-based model.   As president of the Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families, I strongly support this committee's efforts. 
    The current public schools funding formula is based on staffing and program allocations set by the Idaho Legislature and the Idaho Department of Education. The state government tells local school boards how to spend approximately 75% of the funding they get.   This funding formula is overly uniform, inflexible, resistant to innovation, and takes accountability away from local school boards. Also, students are more mobile than ever and this staffing and program-based funding does not keep up as students move from a traditional school, a charter school, a chartered online school and back into a traditional school. 
    We can do better than this. A student-based model would give freedom to principals, allow for more innovation for teachers, and bring more accountability to local school boards."

To follow what is happening and what has already happened. Read more about it by following this link -->

October Newsletter

Upcoming Board Meeting this week: Thursday, October 26th @ 4:00PM

Anyone interested in attending, we accommodate to any parents that want to know more or get involved with what the Coalition does. Feel free to call if you have interest in attending. 

Please call Murphy Olmstead at (208) 871-3885 if you're planning to attend.

The meeting will be held at the Idaho Wheat Commission building in downtown Boise near the Capitol. 
821 W. State Street
Boise, ID 83702


Recent News:


Clark Corbin 10/16/2017

The Legislature’s public school funding interim committee got another taste Monday of how difficult it will be to transition to an enrollment-based funding model.

Last month, the committee recommended that Idaho abandon the average daily attendance-based funding model and create an enrollment-based model.

The difference might sound like semantics, but budget and policy experts told committee members the change won’t be easy, or necessarily free.

Public school funding is the state’s largest general fund expense. The 2017 Legislature appropriated about $1.7 billion to distribute among Idaho’s public and charter schools.

With about 300,000 students in the system, that’s complicated enough. But policymakers would likely need to repeal or amend several state laws to facilitate the funding change.

State laws addressing or defining average daily attendance calculations, support units, staff allowances, education support programs and more could require retooling.

State officials would also need to define “full-time enrollment” and overload enrollment.

Follow Idaho EdNews on Facebook for the latest news »

They also must consider online courses, dual enrollment, fractional enrollment and student mobility issues that arise when students move from one school to another during the same year.

Other questions arise as well.

  • How and when would school officials calculate enrollment?
  • Would school officials validate and reconcile enrollment counts?
  • Would they add in additional weighting factors to financially support at-risk or special needs students?

Read more at  


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September Newsletter

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Breaking news: Please everyone take a look at this article discussing Idaho's public school funding formula. There are changes on the horizon for how we fund our students schools K-12. 

We NEED parents to help us make sure that the money follows the child and to help talk to legislatures to keep our schools alive. We are holding a meeting this Thursday, September 28th @4:30PM to talk more about the issues facing our students and ways we can help!

The meeting will be held at the Idaho Wheat Commission building in downtown Boise near the Capitol. 
821 W. State Street
Boise, ID 83702

Please call Murphy Olmstead at (208) 871-3885 if you're planning to attend.



Kevin Richert 09/22/2017

It took more than a year, but the work of the Legislature’s school funding formula committee began to take shape Friday.

Lawmakers agreed to pursuing an enrollment-based funding model — a nuanced but significant shift from the long-standing status quo.

The premise is that an enrollment-based model is more student-based. In other words, the state’s K-12 dollars should more easily follow kids through the K-12 system.
So what does all this mean? And what did lawmakers discuss Friday? Here’s a primer.

What are we doing now, and why? Idaho’s school funding metric is “average daily attendance.” School districts and charter schools tally up the average number of kids in their classrooms. The state then transfers that number into classroom “support units” and divvies up tax dollars by unit.

Idaho has used an ADA metric for years, hoping it will give schools incentive to keep a close eye on day-to-day student attendance. The “support unit” model also provides rural schools with more money per student — since small districts still need to hire teachers and maintain classrooms for smaller numbers of students.

And enrollment-based funding? The math is simple enough. Now, districts and charters would tally up the number of kids they have enrolled. Then, the state would send out money per student.

What’s the advantage of enrollment-based funding? There are several, committee members say.

Follow Idaho EdNews on Facebook for the latest news »

An enrollment-based model syncs up better with “mastery-based” learning — a move that allows students to move through the school system based on subject knowledge, not classroom seat time. Under an enrollment-based model, schools won’t be penalized if students take offsite career-technical courses. And schools can get partial funding for a student who spends a period or two on campus — such as, for example, a home-schooler who comes to high school for orchestra or choir.

So, it’s that simple? Maybe, maybe not.

States can always use line items to earmark money — and Idaho has line items that cover everything from classroom technology to hiring IT staff.

But the more money the state puts into line items, the less money it has to put into the per-student funding base. And members of the funding formula committee are hoping to streamline the budget, reducing line items and giving schools additional local control.

Have other states made a similar move? A few years ago, California ditched a restrictive K-12 budget that was replete with line items. Now the nation’s largest state distributes K-12 dollars per student.

Dollars vary by grade level: Schools get $6,947 per student in fourth through sixth grade, for example, and $8,505 per high school student. Schools get additional funding for students in poverty, foster children and students with limited English skills.

To read the entire article follow this link 

The next Committee meeting will be on Monday, October 16th. To learn where it will be held at and what time please go to this link to find out more!