Charter schools one step closer in Spokane


by ASSOCIATED PRESS, Shawn Chitnis, &

Posted on September 12, 2013 at 5:29 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 12 at 5:40 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- The State Board of Education has taken another step toward bringing charter schools to Washington State.
On Wednesday in Yakima, the board unanimously approved the Spokane School District's bid to become the state's first charter school authorizer, in addition to the statewide charter commission.   Washington is one of the last states to the country to approve charter schools.

Spokane Public Schools held a news conference Thursday to update the public on their decision to look to charter schools as a new way to help improve student performance.

"We're very excited about the direction we're going and we've had a number of organizations reach out to us," said Dr. Shelley Redinger, Superintendent of Spokane Public Schools.

A charter school authorizer will review, approve or reject applications from groups that want to open charter schools.  Spokane’s was the only district in the state that expressed interested in including the schools as an option.

"We think that charter schools are one tool that can be very effective in helping the achievement of all of our students," said Spokane School Board President Bob Douthitt.

Charter schools are public but independent of a school district.  The schools are run by non-profit groups and have more choices on curriculum.  Charter schools can focus on subjects like the arts or technology.

Leaders with Spokane Public Schools said charter schools would not necessarily take away money from the district.  Washington state gives $5,300 dollars per student to a school.  That money, according to supporters, would move to a charter school and stay with the student.
"One size doesn't fit all when it comes it comes to educating children and we can learn some things from charter schools," added Spokane School Board Vice President Susan Chapin.

In October, non-profit groups looking to create a charter school have to tell the district they want to open one.  By November, applications are due for a possible charter school.  The Spokane School District planned to approve or deny such applications in February.