Monday, September 23, 2013

Washington State Charter News

 Update:  apparently Tacoma School District is now reconsidering becoming a charter authorizer.   They had paused their letter of intent because of the lack of clarity around rules but now that the Board of Ed and the Charter Commission have cleared up those issues, Tacoma may change its mind.  What's interesting is their School Board had voted in unison against 1240 saying it would hurt their district's funding.  Not sure what changed.   They have missed the window to get authorization and would have to wait until next year to become an authrorizer.  (I suspect - because I've been to the Charter Commission meetings and heard this - that several Tacoma groups who want to open charters feel they might do better with a local authorizer than the Charter Commission.)

As you may have heard, Spokane School District was approved as the only other charter school authorizer in the state of Washington by the State Board of Education.   They were the only applicants as the other 11 districts that had filed letters of intent dropped out (most of them citing time and resource constraints).

Spokane can only approve charter schools that would be in its district.  The Charter Commission is the only authorizer that can approve charter schools anywhere in the state.

It is interesting to note that the east side of Washington State seems very gung-ho on charters while the west side seems less so.

In other news, the Charter Commission hired an Executive Director, Joshua Halsey.  Mr. Halsey lately comes from the Puget Sound Education Services District and lead the development of STEM in south King County.  His salary will be $100,000.  The next Charter Commission meeting will be October 17th in Yakima.  (I had reviewed the candidates previously and found Mr. Halsey well-qualified for this position.)

Chair of the Charter Commission, Steve Sundquist, will be on KUOW's The Record today in the noon hour to discuss charter schools.  KUOW had this report on charter applicants on September 19th.  From that report:

The planning principal for Spokane that wants to open "Pride Prep" charter school that would not only get students to graduate but to go onto college.  One issue to keep in mind is that most charter schools need supplemental funds and articles I've read recently on this subject show that charters that are "college prep" get more money than other high school charters.

 Problem is that many of these charter high schools serve struggling students who may not make it to college even if they graduate.  You have to wonder if the money is driving the purpose of the school or the students themselves. 

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