Washington News

April 2, 2013

12 state school districts agree to authorize charter schools

by KING 5 News

TACOMA, Wash. -- A dozen Washington school districts have sent letters to the state Board of Education indicating intent to authorize charter schools starting in 2014, beating a Monday deadline.

The twelve districts include Bellevue, Battle Ground, Eastmont, Highline, Kent, Naselle-Grays River Valley, Peninsula, Port Townsend, Sequim, Spokane, Sunnyside and Tacoma.

“I think it says there’s an opportunity for four-to-six districts to approve it,” said charter school supporter Jana Carlisle from Partnership 4 Learning. “It’s phenomenal.”

Only eight charter schools can be approved by a nine-member panel every year.

Just because the districts have signed letters of intent does not guarantee they will approve charter schools.  Many remain opposed to the voter-approved Initiative 1204, which allowed the independent-public schools in November.

Tacoma School Board member Catherine Ushka said the letter of intent does not change the district’s previously stated position against charter schools.

“The draining of public funds and other issues are still true,” said Ushka .

However, Ushka said the board acknowledges what voters decided, and determined it made more sense to become involved so that any charter school had their input.

Looming over the entire issue is the anticipated litigation on behalf of teachers unions, school districts and administrators who remain opposed to the measure.

Even if districts choose not to become authorizers of charter schools, the state-appointed panel can still approve them.

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