Spokane Only Wash. School District Seeking Charter Authorizer Status

By Ann Dornfeld

The Spokane School District wants to be allowed to consider applications from prospective charter schools. Spokane was the only district in the state that applied for charter authorizer status by the July 1st deadline.

Under the state’s new charter school law, groups that want to start charters can apply to either a new state agency, or to a local district that’s been granted charter authorizer status. Thirteen Washington districts had formally expressed interest in being charter authorizers. But only Spokane finally applied.

Shelley Redinger: “We really wanted to get in the game early, rather than waiting.”

Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger says she expects her city to have some of the state’s first charter schools, and the district wants to be allowed to choose which start up in Spokane.

Shelley Redinger: “So it isn’t just, wow, charters came around and let’s get on board. It was more of a - this was really something our community was asking for – different options and choices."

Redinger says parents are especially interested in more middle school options. And she sees opportunities for charters to partner with outside organizations and businesses to help students learn. Tacoma School District had originally expressed interest in becoming a charter authorizer. But the school board voted against applying, citing a lack of clarity about how charters will operate, and whether they’ll truly be able to target high-poverty, underserved students.

The first charter schools could open in Washington in fall of next year.

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