December 14, 2012

Excellence in CdA

Filed under: General,The City's Pulse — mary @ 1:40 pm

Mary Souza’s Newsletter  -1

Ready for a good news story with a frustrating twist?  Our local Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy has been ranked the #1 public high school in Idaho by US News.  It was also named #67 in the top 100 public high schools in the nation by Newsweek.

And the competition was not even close. No other Idaho school made the national top 100 list, (two southern Idaho schools were ranked 853 and 876) and the school second to Charter for state rankings was significantly behind Charter in Math and English proficiencies, which the Charter kids aced at 100% for each category. (For local comparison, CdA High was 89% for Math and 79% for English, Lake City was 77% for Math and 74% for English.) 

Charter’s high marks and accolades should give our community a sense of pride.  We have an outstanding school of choice that offers excellent instruction to motivated students who are willing to work hard.  Isn’t that the epitome of great education?

But this exceptional PUBLIC school gets ZERO dollars from the $50 million in local school levies and bonds passed in the last two years. They have never received one penny of local taxpayer money, yet they are a public school in District 271.  The Charter Academy is even overlooked by the Excel Foundation, which is supposed to support excellence in education in our district.

There is no tuition at Charter. It is funded only by state dollars.  It gets the same per-student funding as any other small school in Idaho, only Charter does not get local money as well.  And now they are having financial problems because state budget cutbacks have reduced their revenues by 30%.

I listened to Charter Academy Principal Dan Nicklay speak about his school this morning.  While enthusiastic about Charter, he cautioned that it is not for everyone.  Their mission statement says they are  “dedicated to providing a rigorous, content-rich, college preparatory education for any students who are willing to accept the challenge”.  What I love about that is the “rigorous, content-rich…for students who are willing to accept the challenge”.  That philosophy of education can translate into any area of focus, for students choosing the college prep track or those pursuing technical specialties or specific skills certification.  Shouldn’t all education aim for challenging, content-rich rigor?

And Charter does their job well.  100% of the graduating seniors at this college prep school go on to college.  Principal Nicklay says he hears back from his graduates that college is easy, and that the content, work ethic and organizational skills they learned at Charter have helped them succeed.

The Legislature needs to take a serious look at the funding mechanisms for charter schools. We do not want to discourage the important innovation and progress being made at schools like these.  Let’s reward success.  Charter is already a no-frills operation, in their renovated garden center building off of Kathleen Ave., augmented by discarded portable classrooms  purchased from the school district for $1.  They put their money into getting the best, most passionate teachers available and then provide them with a classroom of eager learners.  Seems like a good equation, doesn’t it?

If you want to help, there are two things you can do.  First, you can talk to or email your legislators and ask them to help improve the funding for charter schools.
You can click here to find a list of area legislators and click here for contact info.

And, secondly, you can donate to the CdA Charter Academy.  Any amount will help.  They make the most out of every dollar.  Their address is: 4904 N. Duncan Drive, CdA, ID 83815  Their web site is

Have a great weekend!



  1. Every child that I have met from Cda. Charter are outstanding young people including the teachers. I have grandkids that attend charter schools in the Boise area and they are excellent students too. The public school system has not met the challenge of today’s young people.

    Comment by LTR — December 14, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  2. “100% of the graduating seniors at this college prep school go on to college.”

    Does that include two-year colleges or only four-year colleges?

    Of those from Charter who go on to college, how many annually remain in CdA and go on to one of the colleges or universities here versus leaving CdA to attend elsewhere?

    Comment by Bill — December 14, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

  3. Great questions, Bill, I don’t know the answers. For comparison to the 100% of graduates from Charter that go on to college, if my memory serves me, CdA School District has 40% of its graduates attend college, of any kind, and of that, a much smaller percentage finish.

    Comment by mary — December 14, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

  4. Bill, For Charter 70% go to 4 year college and 30% to 2 year. Keep in mind that there are 40 seniors at CDA Charter, at least for 2011-2012, Which is fine just careful how we compare numbers.

    Lake City for example has 300 seniors (Thats over 7 times that of charter) with a 74% graduation rate (below state average mind you). I believe Mary’s district numbers are correct with 40% of those on to college.
    Out of 300, 228 actually graduate and of that 137 go on to college. I can’t find numbers of what percentage go to 2 year or 4 year. I expect 2 year is higher percentage.
    As far as how many finish, without actual date it’s speculative.

    All in all though just over 3 times as many students from Lake City go to college than Charter can produce, and I expect the CDA high numbers are similar currently.
    Combining both of those in rough numbers you might have about 250-270 between them go on to college.

    Charter 40 graduating students, lake city 228 graduating seniors.

    I believe Charter does well by their students. However it’s easier, of course, with select small student body and that’s fine for some not for others.

    Cda Charter student body is around what? 600 i think, with only 40 graduating in the end. So 600 less 40 seniors is 560 for student body then divide by 6 for 6th through 11th grade with that being 93 per grade. So why so small a graduating class? If all grades average 93 except the graduating 40 I expect the cream of the crop remain in that 40 and that’s fine indeed. But to tout the numbers without explaining that is shedding a not cpmlete light on that one publicly funded school.

    Comment by Eric — December 17, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

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