With the largest chunk going to an online charter school—the Idaho Virtual Academy—the Idaho State Department of Education has begun doling out payments to Idaho charters to offset facility costs, a benefit granted by the 2013 Idaho Legislature.
Idaho ED News is reporting that total payouts for the 2013-2014 school year totaled $2,025,054, significantly higher than the estimate of $1.4 million. The first-of-its-kind payments were made to 47 charters.
The payments were as high as $132,333 for Idaho Virtual Academy and as low as $8,899 going to Wings Charter Middle School in Twin Falls, which recently closed its doors due to financial difficulty.
Other notable payments went to:
Idaho Arts Charter: $93,383
Idaho Distance Education Academy: $92,407
Xavier Charter: $78,631
Compass Charter: $70,098
Sage International School of Boise: $66,805
ANSER Charter: $44,497
Meridian Charter High School: $24,747
Meridian Medical Arts Charter: $23,894
Idaho ED News reports that the figures are tied to the amount of money that traditional public schools also receive for facilities. The new law says 20 percent of what the public schools received should also go to the public charters. During the next school year, that rate bumps up to 30 percent.
Additionally, Idaho ED News reports that even though approximately 3,000 Idaho students take their classes remotely from home through the Idaho Virtual Academy, the online academy still received $132,330 for its administrative offices and testing facilities.
Checks went out to 41 charters last week. Checks to the remaining six charters are pending because the schools have yet to submit their paperwork.
During the 2013 Idaho Legislature debate prior to its passage, Coeur d'Alene Republican Sen. John Goedde, then-chairman of the Senate Education Committee, compared funding for public charter schools as a "Chevy Nova," compared to "Chevy Malibu" funding for traditional public schools.
But Rupert Republican Sen. Dean Cameron, co-chair of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee, said he took issue with the plan.
"Right or wrong, it's been the public policy of this state that we would not provide facilities [for public charter schools]," said Cameron. "I have a concern that we're embarking down a road where we're admitting that we're going to be paying for facilities."