Opinion from our President

Imagine that a school district notifies parents that they must take their child to a location 90 miles from home for testing. Transportation will not be provided; parents are responsible for ensuring that their children arrive every day at their assigned testing site for up to a week, until all exams are complete. Families with multiple children may need to travel every day for two or three consecutive weeks, depending on the kids’ grade levels and the tests they must take. This may require making hotel arrangements and requesting leave from employers to ensure their child is present each day.

This scenario is, of course, crazy and would never happen in a regular school district. Yet it is reality for students in full-time, statewide online public schools.

Online students learn primarily from their homes and are connected to their schools through technology, receiving lessons and instruction online from teachers. Online schools differ from traditional schools in how they deliver instruction and states generally allow them some flexibility, but not for standardized testing. Idaho has very strict rules about how public schools administer state tests. Even though online schools teach students “virtually,” they must administer state tests face to face, in proctored settings — no exceptions.

Online schools do their best to limit the travel burden on families, but that is not always possible, especially in Idaho. It is not uncommon to hear stories from parents who stay overnight at hotels or with friends or relatives, or even use personal vacation time.

This is very different from the experience in traditional schools, where state testing is typically treated as just another day in the same classroom with the same teacher. In fact, administrators in brick-and-mortar schools try to structure the school day to feel as routine as possible to lessen the anxiety of state testing.

However, there is nothing routine about state testing for online students. This raises several questions: What are the psychological impacts on students who take state tests away from where they learn every day? What about students with social or emotional issues — for example, children with autism — who choose online schools because they need a comfortable, familiar setting? Though we don’t know the magnitude of the impact, it’s hard to argue none exists.

Policymakers and regulators overseeing online schools are often not aware of what their students endure during the many weeks of state testing. Few understand the stress, logistics, costs, and labor involved, for online parents and teachers.

I know state testing is an annoyance for all of Idaho's schools, students and their families.  However, it is a nightmare for parents of online students.  I want online teachers to be tasked with proctoring state tests over the internet.  If the department of education doesn't like that idea, at the very least the state should provide financial assistance for online schools to make "testing sites" available that are closer to home for all online students.

Coalition President,

Tom LeClaire

Discovery Center Event!

Come Join Us!! 

Friday, April 27th at 3:00- 5:00PM

The Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families will be hosting a day at the Discovery Center of Idaho. As the school year is coming to a close, we wanted to reach out to share a fun and educational experience!
The first 10 people to RSVP will receive FREE admission!
We will be set-up at the front where we will get you to sign-in and enjoy a fun-filled day in the exhibit. If you would like to RSVP, please e-mail our Coalition Manager  murphy@wittmeyerassociates.com

For directions to the Discovery Center and more information about it see below:

131 W Myrtle St, Boise, ID 83702

We hope to see you there!!

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 https://www.idahoednews.org/kevins-blog/charter-school-groups-criticize-house-passed-tax-bill/ 

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!

Capitol Steps.jpg

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 --> https://www.idahoednews.org/news/school-funding-formula-committee-begins-drafting-resolution/