Idaho School Choice Roadmap

By: National School Choice Week Team

Last Upated: March 1, 2021

Choosing a school? You’ve got options. 

If you live in Idaho, you have access to more K-12 education options for your child than you might realize. Navigating these options can help you find a school where your child thrives, but it can also feel overwhelming at first. This post will breakdown the six types of schools available to you and provide some extra resources too! 

In short, you can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and learning pods.



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Thank you for using our school finder tool. This new tool allows families to search for in-person public, charter, magnet, and private schools and learning environments. To identify online schools in your state, please visit our Ultimate Guide to Online School. To learn more about your state’s homeschooling laws, please visit our Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. This tool was developed by National School Choice Week, with data provided in partnership with Public School Review and Private School Review. For more information about this tool please visit our Schools Near Me Frequently Asked Questions page.
Traditional public schools do not charge tuition. They are managed by school districts and do not require students to pass tests to enroll.
Public charter schools do not charge tuition. They are usually managed by nonprofit organizations and do not require students to pass tests to enroll.
Public magnet schools do not charge tuition. They are managed by school districts and focus on themes, such as math, science, technology, and the arts.
Private schools charge tuition, but scholarships are often available via state programs or by individual schools. Private schools are privately managed and can be faith-based or secular.

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      Idaho Traditional Public Schools

      Most children in Idaho (and in America) attend traditional public schools. Traditional public schools are free to attend, open to all students, operated by school districts, and funded by taxpayers like you. Did you know that Idaho spends an average of $8,677 per public school pupil each year? 

      Idaho has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Idaho regardless of where you live or where the school is located. Parents are responsible for transportation of students participating in open enrollment.

      You can take advantage of this valuable option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family. Traditional public schools aren’t all the same: They may differ in learning methods and one may just “feel different” than another to you. 

      Through the state’s Advanced Opportunities program, every public school student in Idaho is allocated $4,125 to use in grades 7-12. These funds can be used for dual credits, Advanced Placement Exam fees, professional certifications, workforce training, or other qualified expenses. 

      Find out more about public schools in your state here: Idaho’s Department of Education.

      Idaho Charter Schools

      You have another public, tuition-free option in charter schools! Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and usually have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is that they are allowed extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods. Public charter schools are held accountable to authorizing entities, such as colleges or school districts, for results. 

      Idaho passed charter school legislation in 1996. Today, Idaho has 43 brick-and-mortar charter schools and 9 virtual charter schools that parents can choose from. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be providing a language immersion program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system is usually used to determine admittance. 

      Through the state’s Advanced Opportunities program, every public school student in Idaho is allocated $4,125 to use in grades 7-12. These funds can be used for dual credits, Advanced Placement Exam fees, professional certifications, workforce training, or other qualified expenses. 

      Learn more about Idaho’s charter schools from the Idaho Charter School Network. You may also wish to check out the Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families.

      Idaho Magnet Schools

      Magnet schools are another school choice in Idaho. Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. Idaho has more than 20 magnet schools or schools with magnet programs. Idaho’s magnet program locations include Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Hailey, Idaho Falls, Nampa, Ammon, and Coeur d’Alene.

      Through the state’s Advanced Opportunities program, every public school student in Idaho is allocated $4,125 to use in grades 7-12. These funds can be used for dual credits, Advanced Placement Exam fees, professional certifications, workforce training, or other qualified expenses. 

      Idaho Private Schools

      Families in Idaho can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. Idaho’s private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs. 

      There are more than 100 private schools across the state of Idaho. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $8,332 per year, but keep in mind that schools often are more affordable at the elementary level than high school. Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Idaho at present to help with the cost of private school, but private scholarships may be available. Also, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.

      Learn more at the Catholic Diocese of Boise School Directory and Private School Review: Idaho. 

      Idaho Online Learning

      Idaho offers several full-time, free online learning options for students, like Inspire Connections Academy and Idaho Virtual Academy. Students in grades 9-12 can also consider Idaho Technical Career Academy, a full-time online school focused on career readiness. 

      For part-time options, Idaho students in grades 6-12 may enroll in online classes through Idaho Digital Learning. Idaho Digital Learning is available to students in any type of educational setting, public or private. But, parents should check with their local public school or district for details, as fees may apply.

      Students in the Boise School District, or students with an approved open enrollment status from another district, can also choose the Boise Online School, which opened in 2020. Contact your neighborhood school for more information about how to enroll. 

      Which online options still have seats available and in what grades for 2020-2021?

      As of December 2020, Inspire Connections Academy has seats available for grades K-12 and accepts mid-year transfer students. Idaho Virtual Academy has seats available for grades K-12 and offers monthly start dates that students can enroll by during the school year. These run until January for high school students, April for middle school students, and March for elementary school students. Idaho Technical Career Academy has seats available for grades 9-12 and a second semester deadline of February 17, 2021. Boise Online School is no longer accepting applications.

      Does the school provide technology and wifi?

      At Inspire Connections Academy, one laptop and internet subsidy are available per household. At Idaho Virtual Academy, a loaner laptop and internet subsidy are available to families. At Idaho Technical Career Academy, each student is provided a loaner computer and printer. 

      Idaho Homeschooling

      Families in Idaho and all 50 states can choose homeschooling! Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home and allows for highly customized education.

      In Idaho, the state does not require you to submit notice of your intent to homeschool. However, it is recommended that you formally withdraw from your public school so that your student is not marked truant. In the case that you decide to return to public school in the middle of the school year, districts will assess your student for placement into the appropriate class. In Idaho, districts are not required to accept the homeschool work that you completed.

      Idaho may have funding assistance available if you go through a charter homeschool program. The Home School Legal Defense Association has a great how-to about homeschooling in Idaho. You may also want to check out Homeschool Idaho or the North Idaho Home Educator’s Association

      Idaho Learning Pods

      Micro-schools, pods, pandemic pods, and learning pods all refer to the same concept: students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize.  Pods themselves can take a variety of legal forms, but in general they can be separated into two categories: self-directed pod (homeschool, homeschool collaborative, or micro-school) and learning support pod. It’s important to understand what kind of pod you are signing up for and the requirements that go along with it.  Learn more about learning pods.

      Self-Directed Pods:

      If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Idaho. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA here. Note that homeschooled students in Idaho may be eligible to take classes at local public schools, or participate in sports or activities, through the state’s dual enrollment programs.

      If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. You can read more about what Idaho classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

      Learning Support Pods:

      If your child is going to be enrolled in remote learning through your local public school and supervised by an adult in your learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

      Education Resources for Idaho Parents 

      For additional information about school choices in Idaho, visit these resources: 

      School Choice Celebrations in Idaho 

      National School Choice Week 2022 will take place January 23 – 29, 2022. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Check out ideas, inspiration, and more information

      Idaho celebrated National School Choice Week 2021 with 219 virtual events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Idaho.

      Visit State Page

       

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