Measuring Up to the Model



Idaho

TOTAL SCORE:
141 out of 228

Rank: 20 out of 43

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted:  1998
Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools in 2013-14:  47
Estimated Number of Public Charter School Students in 2013-14:  19,409

Idaho enacted two major pieces of charter school legislation in 2013. The first expanded the types of entities that can serve as authorizers, created performance frameworks as part of charter contracts, and created charter renewal processes. The second provided facilities funding.

As a result, Idaho’s score increased from 110 points in 2013 to 141 points this year, the second biggest jump in this year’s report and one of the largest in the five years that we have been producing this report. The score changed because of changes in state policies for Component #1 (No Caps), Component #3 (Multiple Authorizers Available), Component #5 (Adequate Authorizer Funding), Component #7 (Performance-Based Charter Contracts Required), Component #8 (Comprehensive Charter School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes), Component #9 (Clear Processes for Renewal, Nonrenewal, and Revocation Decisions), and Component #19 (Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities) and because of adjustments in our methodology for Component #4 (Authorizer and Overall Program Accountability System Required).

Its ranking went from #32 to #20, again the second biggest jump in this year’s report and one of the largest in the five years that we have been producing this report.

Potential areas for improvement include enacting statutory guidelines to govern the expansion of high-quality charter schools through multischool charter contracts and/or multicharter contract boards, creating authorizer accountability requirements, and ensuring equitable operational funding.

Do Idaho's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Idaho's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Idaho law does not place any caps on charter schools authorized by local school boards and the state charter school commission. However, it provides that higher education authorizers may only approve one new public charter school each year within the boundaries of a single school district.

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1A. No limits are placed on the number of public charter schools or students (and no geographic limits).

1B. If caps exist, adequate room for growth.

2. A Variety of Public Charter Schools Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Idaho law allows new start-ups, public school conversions, and virtual schools.

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2A. New start-ups.

2B. Public school conversions.

2C. Virtual schools.

3. Multiple Authorizers Available

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Idaho law allows the following entities to authorize charter schools: local school boards, a state charter school commission, a state public college, university, or community college, and a private, nonprofit, state-based, nonsectarian college or university that is accredited by the same organization that accredits state public colleges and universities. The law also allows the state board of education to authorize schools upon appeal if denied by an authorizer other than a local school board and to redirect denials by local school boards to the state charter school commission.

Unless it is a petition for approval by a higher education authorizer, the law requires that applications for non-virtual charter schools must first be submitted to the local school board.

The law provides that virtual charter school applications may be submitted to any authorizer except a local school board.

There is considerable authorizing activity by the state charter school commission and local school boards.

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3A. The state allows two or more authorizing options (e.g., school districts and a state charter schools commission) for each applicant with direct application to each authorizer.

4. Authorizer & Overall Program Accountability System Required

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Idaho law includes a small number of the elements of the model law's authorizer and overall program accountability system.

While the law does not require the legislature and governor to regularly review the performance of the state charter school commission as an authorizer, they can do so at any time. In addition, the legislature and governor can remove the ability of state charter school commission to continue authorizing (the entities that gave it that authority).

However, it does not require at least a registration process for school boards to affirm their interest in chartering to the state, does not require an application process for higher education authorizing entities, does not require authorizer submission of an annual report that summarizes the agency’s authorizing activities as well as the performance of its school portfolio, does not require a regular review process by authorizer oversight body of local school board and higher education authorizers, does not require an authorizer oversight body with authority to sanction local school board and higher education authorizers including removal of authorizer right to approve schools, and does not require a periodic formal evaluation of overall state charter school program and outcomes.

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4A. At least a registration process for local school boards to affirm their interest in chartering to the state.

4B. Application process for other eligible authorizing entities.

4C. Authorizer submission of annual report, which summarizes the agency’s authorizing activities as well as the performance of its school portfolio.

4D. A regular review process by authorizer oversight body.

4E. Authorizer oversight body with authority to sanction authorizers, including removal of authorizer right to approve schools.

4F. Periodic formal evaluation of overall state charter school program and outcomes.

5. Adequate Authorizer Funding

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

The law requires each public charter school to pay an authorizer fee to its authorized chartering entity to defray the actual documented cost of monitoring, evaluation and oversight, which, in the case of public charter schools authorized by the public charter school commission, shall include each school's proportional fee share of all moneys appropriated to the public charter school commission, plus 15%. The law allows each public charter school's board of directors to direct up to 10% of the calculated fee to pay membership fees to an organization or association that provides technical assistance, training and advocacy for Idaho public charter schools.

Unless the authorized chartering entity declines payment, such fee shall not exceed the greater of:
(a) all state funds distributed to public schools on a support unit basis for the prior fiscal year, divided by the statewide number of public school students in average daily attendance in the first reporting period in the prior fiscal year; or the lesser of the result of the calculation in (a) multiplied by 4 or
1.5% of the result of the calculation in (a) multiplied by the public charter school's average daily attendance in the first reporting period in the current fiscal year.

The law does not include a requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures, require a separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school, and prohibit authorizers from requiring schools to purchase services from them.

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5A. Adequate funding from authorizing fees (or other sources).

5B. Guaranteed funding from authorizing fees (or from sources not subject to annual legislative appropriations).

5C. Requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures.

5D. Separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school.

5E. Prohibition on authorizers requiring schools to purchase services from them.

6. Transparent Charter Application, Review, and Decisionmaking Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Idaho law and regulations set forth general application elements for all charter petitions. The law includes requirements specific to conversions as well as for virtual charter school petitions.

The law does not require additional application elements specific to educational service providers and replications.

The law does not require authorizers to issue requests for proposals with application requirements and approval criteria.

The law requires a public hearing for each charter application, but it does not require in-person interviews.

The law requires authorizers to make charter approval and denial decisions in an open meeting and provide written notice of approval or denial to each applicant, with reasons for denial stated in writing.

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6A. Application elements for all schools.

6B. Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

6C. Additional application elements specific to virtual schools.

6D. Additional application elements specific when using educational service providers.

6E. Additional application elements specific to replications.

6F. Authorizer-issued request for proposals (including application requirements and approval criteria).

6G. Thorough evaluation of each application including an in-person interview and a public meeting.

6H. All charter approval or denial decisions made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for denials in writing.

7. Performance-Based Charter Contracts Required

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Idaho law requires the authorized chartering entity and the governing board of the approved public charter school to execute a performance certificate that clearly sets forth the academic and operational performance expectations and measures by which the public charter school will be judged and the administrative relationship between the authorized chartering entity and public charter school, including each party's rights and duties.

Idaho law requires the performance certificate to be based upon a performance framework that clearly sets forth the academic and operational performance indicators, measures, and metrics that will guide the authorizer’s evaluations of each public charter school.

Idaho law requires the Idaho law requires that an initial charter shall be granted for a term of three operating years.

The law does not requires contracts to include provisions addressing the unique environments of virtual schools.

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7A. Being created as a separate document from the application and executed by the governing board of the charter school and the authorizer.

7B. Defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.

7C. Defining academic and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged, based on a performance framework that includes measures and metrics for, at a minimum, student academic proficiency and growth, achievement gaps, attendance, recurrent enrollment, postsecondary readiness (high schools), financial performance, and board stewardship (including compliance).

7D. Providing an initial term of five operating years (or a longer term with periodic high-stakes reviews.

7E. Including requirements addressing the unique environments of virtual schools, if applicable.

8. Comprehensive Charter School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

The law provides that an authorized chartering entity shall continually monitor the performance and legal compliance of the public charter schools it oversees, including collecting and analyzing data to support ongoing evaluation according to the performance certificate. For each public charter school it oversees, the law requires the authorizer to be responsible for analyzing and reporting all data from state assessment in accordance with the performance framework. Regulations authorize and require chartering entities to engage in compliance monitoring to ensure that each charter school meets the terms of its charter and complies with applicable laws. The regulations address performance monitoring through annual school accreditation reports and annual reporting on educational goal attainment.

Idaho law requires charter schools to submit to their authorizer an annual audit of fiscal operations and a copy of the school’s accreditation report. It also requires charter schools to comply with the same financial reporting requirements as school districts.

The law provides that every authorized chartering entity shall have the authority to conduct or require oversight activities that enable the authorized chartering entity to fulfill its responsibilities, including conducting appropriate inquiries and investigations, so long as those activities are consistent with the intent of the state’s charter law, adhere to the terms of the performance certificate, and do not unduly inhibit the autonomy granted to public charter schools.

The law provides that each authorized chartering entity shall annually publish and make available to the public a performance report for each public charter school it oversees, in accordance with the performance framework set forth in the performance certificate. It also provides that authorized chartering entity may require each public charter school it oversees to submit an annual report to assist the authorized chartering entity in gathering complete information about each school consistent with the performance framework.

Idaho law requires authorizers to give charter schools written notice of perceived defects and reasonable opportunity to cure such defects through a corrective action plan developed by the school. Apart from providing such notice of problems, the law does not explicitly empower authorizers to take corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation.

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8A. The collection and analysis of student outcome data at least annually by authorizers (consistent with performance framework outlined in the contract).

8B. Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).

8C. Authorizer authority to conduct or require oversight activities.

8D. Annual school performance reports which are made public.

8E. Authorizer notification to their schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.

8F. Authorizer authority to take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation.

9. Clear Processes for Renewal, Nonrenewal, and Revocation Decisions

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

No later than November 15 of each year, the law requires the authorized chartering entity to issue a public charter school performance report and charter renewal application guidance to any public charter school whose charter will expire the following year. It requires the performance report to summarize the public charter school's performance record to date, based upon the data required by the state’s charter law and the performance certificate and provide notice of any weaknesses or concerns determined by the authorized chartering entity concerning the public charter school that may jeopardize its position in seeking renewal, if not timely rectified. The law provides the public charter school with thirty days to respond to the performance report and submit any corrections or clarifications for the report.

The law provides that the renewal application guidance shall, at a minimum, provide an opportunity for the public charter school to present additional evidence, beyond the data contained in the performance report, supporting its case for charter renewal and describe improvements undertaken or planned for the school. The law provides that the renewal application guidance shall include or refer explicitly to the criteria that will guide the authorized chartering entity's renewal decisions, which shall be based on independent fiscal audits and the performance framework set forth in the performance certificate.

No later than December 15, the law requires the governing board of a public charter school seeking renewal to submit a renewal application to the authorized chartering entity pursuant to the renewal application guidance issued by the authorized chartering entity.

The law requires an authorized chartering entity to renew any charter in which the public charter school met all of the terms of its performance certificate at the time of renewal. It provides that an authorized chartering entity may renew or nonrenew any charter in which the public charter school failed to meet one or more of the terms of its performance certificate.

The law provides that a charter may be revoked by the authorized chartering entity if the public charter school has failed to meet any of the specific, written conditions for necessary improvements established pursuant to certain provisions of state law by the dates specified.

In making charter renewal decisions, the law requires every authorized chartering entity to ground its decisions in evidence of the school's performance over the term of the performance certificate in accordance with the performance framework set forth in the performance certificate, ensure that data used in making renewal decisions are available to the school and the public, and provide a public report summarizing the evidence basis for each decision.

Following the initial three year term, the law provides that an authorized chartering entity may nonrenew or grant renewal for an additional five years, based upon the performance of the public charter school on the performance indicators, measures and metrics contained in the performance certificate. The law provides that subsequent renewals shall be for a term of five years.

The law requires an authorized chartering entity to develop revocation and nonrenewal processes that: provide the charter holders with a timely notification of the prospect of revocation or nonrenewal and of the reasons for such possible closure, which shall be limited to failure to meet the terms of the performance certificate or the written conditions established by the authorizer; allow the charter holders a reasonable amount of time in which to prepare a response; provide the charter holders with an opportunity to submit documents and give testimony challenging the rationale for closure and in support of the continuation of the school at an orderly proceeding held for that purpose; allow the charter holders to be represented by counsel and to call witnesses on their behalf; permit the recording of such proceedings; and, after a reasonable period for deliberation, require a final determination to be made and conveyed in writing to the charter holders.

The law provides that revocation may not occur until the public charter school has been afforded a public hearing, unless the authorized chartering entity determines that the continued operation of the public charter school presents an imminent public safety issue, in which case the charter may be revoked immediately. The law provides that public hearings shall be conducted by the authorized chartering entity or such other person or persons appointed by the authorized chartering entity to conduct public hearings and receive evidence as a contested case. The law provides that notice and opportunity to reply shall include, at a minimum, written notice setting out the basis for consideration of revocation, a period of not less than thirty days within which the public charter school can reply in writing, and a public hearing within thirty days of the receipt of the written reply.

The law provides that if an authorized chartering entity revokes or does not renew a charter, the authorized chartering entity shall clearly state, in a resolution of its governing board, the reasons for the revocation or nonrenewal.

The law requires authorizers to have school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.

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9A. Authorizer must issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year.

9B. Schools seeking renewal must apply for it.

9C. Authorizers must issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans.

9D. Clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal/revocation.

9E. Authorizers must ground renewal decisions based on evidence regarding the school’s performance over the term of the charter contract (in accordance with the performance framework set forth in the charter contract).

9F. Authorizer authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.

9G. Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or non-renewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.

9H. Authorizers must provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions (e.g., public hearing, submission of evidence).

9I. All charter renewal, non-renewal, and revocation decisions made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for non-renewals and revocations in writing.

9J. Authorizers must have school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.

10. Educational Service Providers (ESPs) Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Idaho law allows a charter school board to legally contract with for-profit entities “for the provision of products or services that aid in the operation of the school.”

The law prevents many (but not all) conflicts of interest by prohibiting any member of a charter school board of directors from benefiting financially, whether directly or indirectly, from a contractual relationship with the school. Idaho law prohibits charter school board members, as public officers, from having an interest in any contract entered into by the board. The law generally prohibits charter school contracts from being awarded to spouses of charter school board members. The law does not require the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest in the charter application, as recommended in the model law.

The law does not include application requirements for educational service providers, does not require a clear performance contract between charter schools and service providers, does not require contracts with providers to be approved by authorizers, and does not require school governing boards to operate independent of providers.

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10A. All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and non-profit) explicitly allowed to operate all or parts of schools.

10B. The charter application requires 1) performance data for all current and past schools operated by the ESP, including documentation of academic achievement and (if applicable) school management success; and 2) explanation and evidence of the ESP’s capacity for successful growth while maintaining quality in existing schools.

10C. A performance contract is required between the independent public charter school board and the ESP, setting forth material terms including but not limited to: performance evaluation measures; methods of contract oversight and enforcement by the charter school board; compensation structure and all fees to be paid to the ESP; and conditions for contract renewal and termination.

10D. The material terms of the ESP performance contract must be approved by the authorizer prior to charter approval.

10E. School governing boards operating as entities completely independent of any educational service provider (e.g., must retain independent oversight authority of their charter schools, and cannot give away their authority via contract).

10F. Existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities are required to be disclosed and explained in the charter application.

11. Fiscally and Legally Autonomous Schools with Independent Public Charter School Boards

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Idaho law explicitly provides fiscal and legal autonomy to charter schools.

The law requires charter schools to be organized and managed as nonprofit corporations governed by a board of directors. The law deems each charter school’s board of directors to be public agents authorized by the local school board, the state charter school commission, or the state board of education to control the charter school, while functioning independently of the local school district or the state commission except as provided in the charter.

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11A. Fiscally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to receive and disburse funds, incur debt, and pledge, assign or encumber assets as collateral).

11B. Legally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to enter into contracts and leases, sue and be sued in their own names, and acquire real property).

11C. School governing boards created specifically to govern their charter schools.

12. Clear Student Recruitment, Enrollment, and Lottery Procedures

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Idaho law provides that charter schools are open to any student in the state. The law sets forth a mandatory enrollment preference for students residing in the attendance area of the charter school.

The law requires a lottery or other random method to select students if a charter school is oversubscribed. The law allows but does not require enrollment preferences for students returning to a charter school, siblings of enrolled students, and students living in the charter school’s attendance area.

The law allows enrollment preference for founders’ children, up to 10% of school capacity.

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12A. Open enrollment to any student in the state.

12B. Lottery requirements.

12C. Required enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions, prior year students within chartered schools, siblings of enrolled students enrolled at a charter school.

12D. Optional enrollment preference for children of a school’s founders, governing board members, and full-time employees, not exceeding 10% of the school’s total student population.

13. Automatic Exemptions from Many State and District Laws and Regulations

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Idaho law provides that charter schools are automatically exempt from most state laws and rules governing school districts. However, Idaho does not exempt charter schools from new laws passed in 2011 governing teacher and administrator evaluations, pay for performance, and classroom technology. These laws diminish charter autonomy over staffing, instructional design, and budgeting.

Idaho law requires charter school teachers to be certified, although teachers may apply for a waiver or any of the limited alternative certification options provided by the state board of education.

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13A. Exemptions from all laws, except those covering health, safety, civil rights, student accountability, employee criminal history checks, open meetings, freedom of information, and generally accepted accounting principles.

13B. Exemption from state teacher certification requirements.

14. Automatic Collective Bargaining Exemption

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Idaho law provides that charter schools are exempt from district collective bargaining agreements.

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14A. Charter schools authorized by non-local board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside collective bargaining agreements.

14B. Charter schools authorized by local boards are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreements.

15. Multischool Charter Contracts and/or Multicharter Contract Boards Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Idaho law is silent regarding these arrangements.

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15A. Oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

15B. Hold multiple charter contracts with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

16. Extracurricular and Interscholastic Activities Eligibility and Access

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

Idaho law is silent regarding charter eligibility and access.

1

16A. Laws or regulations explicitly state that charter school students and employees are eligible to participate in all interscholastic leagues, competitions, awards, scholarships, and recognition programs available to non-charter public school students and employees.

16B. Laws or regulations explicitly allow charter school students in schools not providing extra-curricular and interscholastic activities to have access to those activities at non-charter public schools for a fee by a mutual agreement.

17. Clear Identification of Special Education Responsibilities

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Idaho law states that each charter school authorized by an entity other than a local school board is their own LEA. It also provides that a charter school authorized by a local school board may be designated by the local school board as an LEA with the concurrence of the public charter school board of directors; otherwise, the charter school shall be included in that district’s LEA. The law provides that the LEA (either the district or the charter school itself, as stated above) is responsible for providing and funding special education services.

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17A. Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services.

17B. Clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools (in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs).

18. Equitable Operational Funding and Equal Access to All State and Federal Categorical Funding

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Idaho law provides that charter schools are funded by the same state formula as district schools for operational funding, but they do not receive any local tax revenues or supplemental levies. The law limits charter school public funding to state sources and any federal dollars that schools qualify for. The state funding formula does not compensate for charters’ lack of access to local revenues.

The law entitles each charter school to receive an advance payment from the state of 25% of its estimated per-pupil funding in the summer before its first year and each subsequent year in which the school expands enrollment by at least 20 students. It also provides that subsequent payments are to be made in the same manner as for district schools.

Idaho law provides that charter schools designated as LEAs receive federal funds directly.

The law provides that charter schools must receive from the state 85% of their actual cost for student transportation, provided on a reimbursement basis in July for the previous school year.

A national study of charter school funding (Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, 2010) found that Idaho charter schools were receiving on average $6,178 per pupil, while districts would have received $8,179 per pupil to educate those students. Thus, charter schools were receiving $2,001 – or 24.5% -- less per pupil than districts would have received to educate those students. This comparison includes all sources of funding. The gap between charter and district per-pupil funding is largely attributable to charters’ lack of access to 1) local revenues, and 2) capital and debt service funds. (See component #19 for information on capital funding).

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18A. Equitable operational funding statutorily driven.

18B. Equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding, and clear guidance on the pass-through of such funds.

18C. Funding for transportation similar to school districts.

19. Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Idaho law requires the state department of education to distribute facilities funds to public charter schools for each enrolled student in which a majority of the student's instruction is received at a facility that is owned or leased by the public charter school. It provides that such funds shall be used to defray the purchase, fee, loan or lease costs associated with payments for real property used by the students or employees of the public charter school for educational or administrative purposes.

It provides that such funds shall be distributed from the moneys appropriated to the educational support program and shall be calculated as a percentage of the statewide average amount of bond and plant facility funds levied per student by Idaho school districts, as follows:

* Fiscal Year 2014: 20%
* Fiscal Year 2015: 30%
* For fiscal year 2016 and each fiscal year thereafter, this percentage shall increase by 10% each time the total appropriation of state funds for the educational support program increases by 3% or more over the prior fiscal year and shall decrease by 10% each time the total appropriation of state funds for the educational support program decreases as compared to the prior fiscal year. Provided however, that the percentage shall be no less than 20% and no greater than 50% and that the average amount of funding received per public charter school shall not exceed the average amount of funding received by each school district.

For those public charter schools that do not receive facilities funds for all enrolled students, the law allows the school to submit to the state department of education a reimbursement claim for any costs for which facilities funds may be used.
The law requires the state department of education to reduce such claim by the greater of 50% or the percentage of the school's enrolled students for which the school receives facilities funds and to pay the balance. Provided however, that the total reimbursements paid to a public charter school, in combination with any facilities stipend received by the school, shall not exceed the amount of facilities funds that would have been received by the school had the school received facilities funds for all enrolled students.

Idaho law provides that charter schools are eligible for tax-exempt facilities financing using Nonprofit Facilities Revenue Bonds issued by the Idaho Housing and Financing Association.

The law gives school districts the authority to authorize the transfer or conveyance of any surplus district-owned property to various public entities including charter schools.

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19A. A per-pupil facilities allowance which annually reflects actual average district capital costs.

19B. A state grant program for charter school facilities.

19C. A state loan program for charter school facilities.

19D. Equal access to tax-exempt bonding authorities or allow charter schools to have their own bonding authority.

19E. A mechanism to provide credit enhancement for public charter school facilities.

19F. Equal access to existing state facilities programs available to non-charter public schools.

19G. Right of first refusal to purchase or lease at or below fair market value a closed, unused, or underused public school facility or property.

19H. Prohibition of facility-related requirements stricter than those applied to traditional public schools.

20. Access to Relevant Employee Retirement Systems

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Idaho law requires charter schools to participate in the state retirement system.

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20A. Charter schools have access to relevant state retirement systems available to other public schools.

20B. Charter schools have the option to participate (i.e., not required).