The first HB 570 has become part of Title 33 the education statutes in Idaho. This legislation which is the 58th chapter in the legislation is known as the “Local Innovation School Act” allows schools to bypass certain laws and rules for becoming a charter school. The other troubling piece of legislation is one that would essentially allow charter schools to issue contracts of their own choice rather than those required by the state. Why is this important to Blaine County? Currently all eyes interested in education in the state are on Blaine County as the Syringa Mountain School is seeking designation as an innovative school and would like to join the Blaine County School District. The Syringa school is the first school in the state to seek this special innovative school designation. The potential absorption of Syringa by the District poses a host of questions and challenges for the District and it’s teachers. The inclusion of Syringa would mean that the District will inherit and absorb their test scores, their rented building, and their lack of classroom and library resources. Some might argue that is exactly why they should be part of the BCSD but, at what cost to the District? How might this impact District staffing when the District is already experiencing a budget shortfall? If we siphon money off to an “innovative school” how will we pay to bus their students, fill their library and computer labs, repair/renovate a their building, and hire teachers with the same benefits packages as BCSD teachers. All of this is mandated by the Local Innovation School Act. The second piece of legislation is concerning for the BCEA as well. As the legislation states, teachers at the Syringa school could potentially have very little due process protections under their charter school contracts. Teachers at the charter school would have to receive the same benefits but not the same salaries as their peers in the Blaine County School District. This could lead to vast inequities and divisiveness in our District.
The Board of Trustees is holding a public hearing on the Syringa School question on May 3, 2016 at 4pm. Following the agenda items the Board will open the meeting to public comment. If you are a proponent of free public education you need to be there and make your voice heard.
Keep public education public!