North Star Charter School still planning to open for fall classes

The school's board chairman says the school won't survive if people don't come back.

broberts@idahostatesman.comJune 27, 2013 

The Meridian School Board voted to revoke the charter of the financially troubled school Tuesday.

Jim Miller, North Star's board chairman, said he has heard reports that some families are double-enrolling in North Star and in Meridian district schools in case North Star does not remain open.

"Our biggest challenge is the public relations piece with our teachers and parents," he said.

Meridian trustees' vote Tuesday set off a process that includes a public hearing and a possible appeal to the State Board of Education.

Miller, the only representative from North Star who came to the board meeting Tuesday, was surprised by the board's decision.

North Star had met all the requirements the board addressed in a letter of defect it sent the school in the spring, Miller said.

"I thought it was going to be 'thank you for your report, (now) go forth.' "

Instead, Meridian board members said the school had not taken enough steps to secure North Star's financial stability.

North Star fell into financial problems when it sold bonds for construction of an $11.7 million building in 2008 with a 9.75 percent interest rate.

As North Star's financial situation deteriorated, the school faced the possibility of not meeting its bill at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

North Star worked out an arrangement with bondholders that gave them access to $1.4 million in funds to help carry the school through this school year and the 2013-14 year, said Miller.

But trustees had questions about the agreement. It could easily be terminated by bondholders, Meridian Superintendent Linda Clark wrote in a letter to Miller Wednesday. It also gives the school authority to take on more debt by adding more staff, and doesn't offer a plan for how North Star would pay the $1.4 million, Clark told the Statesman.

North Star has about 900 students. Instruction covers kindergarten through high school and blends student safety and respect with rigorous academic standards and an international baccalaureate program.

Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts

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