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Idaho sets a strong example by enhancing charter schools

The Gem State's robust charter school law got even stronger this year when Governor Little signed HB 422 (Accelerated Public Charter School Act) into law on February 27. HB 422 was adopted by a vote of 66-3 in the House and 32-1 in the Senate. According to the statement of purpose for the new law:

“The Accelerating Public Charter Schools Act updates Idaho’s Charter School laws. In 1998, the Idaho Legislature passed the Idaho Charter School law to allow charter schools to operate in Idaho. Idaho now has 74 charter schools serving 10% or approximately 30,000 children. While there have been several amendments to the charter school laws over the years, nothing substantial has been introduced to incorporate the majority of what we have learned in the past 26 years. This legislation does that.”

A press release by Governor Little noted:

“In his State of the State speech in January, Governor Little laid out his plan for the improvements championed in House Bill 422. This bill cuts red tape around supporting charter schools in Idaho through best practices, development, and educational and operational assistance. It gives more flexibility for the high performing charters of Idaho and more support to charters that are struggling and need more guidance.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools said this about the new law:

“HB 422 streamlines Idaho’s charter school law with the goal of balancing charter school autonomy and accountability. Now, public charter schools in Idaho will have more flexibility to innovate while still being held accountable for results. In addition, HB 422 includes the following provisions:  

  • A charter school’s initial contract must be for six years, giving a new school sufficient time to prove its worth before it faces renewal. 

  • A high-performing charter school may have its contract renewed for up to 12 years, allowing the school to spend more time focused on educating students instead of completing bureaucratic paperwork requirements. 


While HB 422 represents forward progress for the charter school sector in Idaho, more work remains to be done to provide charter schools even more flexibility to innovate, especially as it relates to teacher policies, and more equitable funding and facilities support – all while holding the line on ensuring that charter schools deliver results for Idaho’s families and taxpayers. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Bluum, the Idaho Charter School Network, and Idaho policymakers to ensure families have access to high-quality public school options.”

Idaho Education News highlighted this quote from one of Idaho’s charter school leaders:

“It reduces the administrative burden on our principals, because the renewal process takes time away from supporting teachers and students. Time is a leader’s most precious commodity. The lengthened renewal timeframe also reduces the risk to facility lenders during refinancing, driving down interest rates and keeping more dollars in our classrooms,” said Jason Bransford, chief executive officer of Gem Prep Schools.


Mountain States Policy Center believes that education choice means an all of the above approach – traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, micro-schools, homeschooling, and more. It is very exciting to see Idaho continue to embrace charter schools and act to enhance their ability to meet the needs of students and families who are looking for alternative education opportunities.

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