Printed on: December 06, 2012

Charter school grant in jeopardy

By Nate Sunderland

The proposed Bingham Academy charter school in Blackfoot could lose a $600,000 federal grant unless the Idaho Public Charter School Commission approves its charter by Dec. 31.

Commission members withheld approval of the Bingham Academy charter and the charter for the planned Odyssey Charter School in Idaho Falls during a Tuesday meeting in Boise.

Both schools were given extensions to correct what one commission official called incomplete charters.

Earlier this year, each of the schools received multiple extensions from the commission to rewrite their charters.

The commission authorized a special Dec. 31 meeting to review Bingham Academy's revised charter. If the charter is approved on that date, the school would receive the $600,000 grant, which was authorized last week. If not, the money would be lost.

"Yes, we have some more things to do, but we are hopeful," Bingham Academy Board Chairman Greg Sigerson said. "We are doing everything we can to meet the reasonable requirements of the state ... and I am confident ... we will be able to get through this and get the grant that will benefit our school and the entire state."

The commission was most concerned about Bingham Academy's projected enrollment, Sigerson said.

"They want us to see a very large waiting list and are concerned about our budgeting and fiscal viability based on our projected student population," Sigerson said.

Adjustments are under discussion to meet the commission's demands, he said.

Odyssey Charter School was given until the commission's Feb. 14 meeting to fix its charter.

Efforts to reach Odyssey founders Karl and Chris Peterson for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful. Commission director Tamara Baysinger also could not be reached for comment.

Both schools hope to open next fall.

Nate Sunderland can be reached at 542-6763.