Thursday, July 17, 2014

Big Drop in Charter School Applications for Washington State

From the Washington State Charter Commission:

The Charter School Commission (the Commission) announced today that four (4) non-profit organizations have submitted proposals in the second round of applications to open high-quality public charter schools in the state of Washington. Each applicant was asked to put forth a comprehensive and rigorous plan to meet the needs of the student population they wish to serve. Proposals were due by 5:00 PM on July 15th

The Commission has received proposals from the following organizations (organization, school name, location):
  • Bilingual Charter Academy, Bilingual Charter Academy, Clark County
  • Charter Schools of Sunnyside, Sunnyside Charter Academy, Sunnyside
  • The Ducere Group, The Village Academy, Pierce County
  • Green Dot Public Schools Washington State, Seattle Charter School, South Seattle

Over the next week, the Commission will review the proposals to ensure that all necessary materials have been submitted. Once the proposals have been vetted for completeness, they will be turned over to the Commission’s evaluators for substantive evaluation. The evaluators will apply their expertise in student achievement/performance, school finance, and school operations/governance to the review of the proposals. The evaluators then will conduct in-person interviews with the schools’ founding teams. The evaluators will finally produce a recommendation of approval or denial for each proposal to the Commission on October 3, 2014. During the drafting of recommendations, the Commission will host public forums in the first three weeks of September. These public forums are opportunities for applicants, families and interested citizens to engage directly with the Commission.

The Commission will approve resolutions of approval or denial for each proposal at its October 9, 2014 public meeting in Yakima. 

Commission chair Steve Sundquist told the AP that he was surprised that the number of applications had gone down from the inaugural year high of 19.  It seems the low number caught the Charter Commission off-guard (given the numbers of letters of intent) and they may follow up on why.

Spokane School District, the only district authorizer, has received three applications.  Spokane is likely to announce their picks in late September.

Three previous applicants, who were turned down last year, resubmitted applications  this year.

A few thoughts:

- a few oddities in dropouts - Out of the Box (which seemed like a pretty good idea and the Gulan-connected charter, Coral Academy of Science (but that may be because of some pretty bad press of yet another Gulan school in another part of the country under investigation)

- yes, it seems like organizing a charter in Washington State is something of a heavy lift.  Our Charter Commission has a lot of information to be able to gauge any application and they would be smart to do so in order to protect our state from the problems/scandals/vagaries of charters in other states.