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22 Contenders Vie To Become State's First Charter Schools

Kara McDermott

A military school for at-risk youth.

A high school that uses sports to teach life lessons.

A school focused on special education.

These are three of the 22 proposals for Washington state’s first charter schools that made it in by last Friday’s deadline.

(See full list below.)

Along with an abundance of applications for schools in King County, proposals included schools in the Tacoma, Spokane and Yakima regions.

Ten applications came from existing charter school operators in other states, including two fairly high-profile California chains: Green Dot Public Schools and Summit Public Schools.

Three Washington private schools applied to turn into charter schools, including an Enumclaw school focused on experiential learning and an elementary school for highly gifted children in Spokane Valley.

The applications won’t be released to the public until next week. But according to preliminary filings, many schools would focus on college prep and the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math.

Many applicants have also proposed a model known as “blended learning,” where students learn from teachers part of the day, and from computers at other times.

Most of the would-be charter founders applied to the state’s new Charter School Commission. Chair Steve Sundquist says the commissionis putting togetherteams of local and national education experts to vet the charter proposals.

"The applicants will then be interviewed by those teams to make sure that all of their questions have been properly answered and that we, as a commission, essentially understand the application. And those teams will then make recommendations as to whether to approve the application or not to the commission."

Sundquist says there will be public hearings before the commission makes its decision by late February.

Three of the applications were submitted to Spokane Public Schools, the first district to be granted charter authorizer status under the law.

Although only eight charter schools can be approved to open each year, other schools could be approved now to open in future years.

Washington’s first charter schools could open as soon as next fall.

Charter Applications:
Washington STEM
CAL Elementary
First Place Charter School
King County Academy
Out of the Box Learning Studio
Sports in Schools Team Charter
Summit Public School: Sierra
Coral Academy of Science

Cedar River Academy

Excel Public Charter School

Highline School District:
Rainier Prep

Coral Academy of Science
Green Dot Public Schools Washington State Charter Middle School #1
SOAR Academy
Summit Public School: Olympus

Sunnyside Charter Academy

Grays Harbor/Mason/Thurston:
Evergreen Leadership Academy

Joint Base Lewis-McChord:
The Village Academy

Academy of Arts and Sciences iLEAD Spokane Charter School Pride Prep School

Spokane Valley:
Pioneer School

Yakima Academy

Year started with KUOW: 2008