Groups want to open 12 new charters in state

SEATTLE — Eleven groups announced this week they plan to apply to open 12 charter schools in Washington state.

The Washington State Charter School Commission says the non-profit groups include both new and returning applicants that want to open schools across the state.

The majority of the applicants are in Western Washington, although there are school proposals expected from Sunnyside and Yakima. Most of the notices say the groups want to open schools in fall 2015, although some are looking ahead to fall 2016.

The ideas range across the spectrum, from college prep, science and math to a dual language elementary school in Yakima and a military academy in Grays Harbor.

In January, the statewide charter commission and the Spokane school district approved the applications for Washington’s first eight charter schools. One is scheduled to open this fall; the others are scheduled to open in fall 2015.

Although the charter law approved in November 2012 says up to eight of the independent schools can be opened in any one year, because only one school has been approved for 2014, more schools could be approved for opening in 2015, said Joshua Halsey, executive director of the commission.

The commission was happy with the variety of organizations and programs represented in the notices, Halsey said.

“We have potential applicants across the state. It is great to see these non-profit organizations demonstrate their interest in responding to student needs across many of Washington’s communities,” he said.

This is the second year for the new charter application process in Washington state. The notices due this past week are the first step in the application process.

The next deadline in the process will be July 15, when formal applications to open a charter school are due. After public forums, interviews and other evaluations, The Charter School Commission plans to vote in October on which schools will be given tentative approval to open.

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