North Star Charter’s appeal to the ed board goes nowhere

Plans by North Star to go around Meridian School District and put its case for saving the financially troubled school directly before the State Board of Education ended Thursday. Mike Rush, ed board executive director, told North Star that Meridian has not revoked the school’s charter so there is no action which can be appealed to the state board.

North Star sent a 90-page protest and appeal to the Ed Board Tuesday saying that Meridian School Board had taken an incorrect vote to revoke the school charter on June 25. The vote showed trustees had already made up their minds about the future of the school, North Star said.

Meridian School officials acknowledged wording in the vote was incorrect, but moved toward setting a public hearing on the proposed revocation, following state procedure that could lead to closing the school.

The Ed Board response assured North Star Star that the charter under which it operates is still intact.
“We are going to give it our best,” said  Jim Miller, North Star chairman.

North Star officials told the Ed Board  trustees have already shown what they think and continuing with a hearing would be a waste of time and resources.

Meridian trustees will meet Tuesday to set a time for a public hearing on the future of North Star. The board could also take a final vote on revocation at that future hearing.

If Meridian trustees vote to revoke the school’s charter, then North Star can appeal to the State Board of Education, ed board officials say. If North Star is successful, its charter would move from Meridian to the Idaho Public Charter School Commission.

At the heart of the conflict between North Star and Meridian is the district’s concern that the school is not financially stable.

Earlier this spring the school teetered on bankruptcy and didn’t have enough money to pay its bills. Financial problems grew out of North Star’s $11.7 million loan on its school building that carried a 9.75 percent interest rate payable to bondholder.

North Star worked to reach a temporary agreement with bondholders that would give the school access to money it could use to operate in 2013-2015.  But the agreement means the schools would eventually have to repay nearly $1.2 million in missed bond payments and money that would have to go back into reserve accounts.

Trustees say the agreement is tenuous and could easily be pulled by bondholders, leaving 900 students with no place to attend school if North Star closes.

North Star has not worked out a long-term agreement with bondholders to provide financial relief for the school. If it cannot reach a permanent agreement over the next several months, the school could close.

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Posted in In The Classroom