Charter Schools


Spokane Public Schools has 2 Charter Schools:
Pride Prep

Spokane International Academy

2607 E. Queen
Spokane, WA
Eight hours school days run from 7:45 am to 3:45 pm, about 2 hours longer than a typical day of instruction at other Spokane-area schools. Students, however, do not have homework, because it is done in a learning lab. 


Spokane Public Schools supported the creation of charter schools from the very beginning.  The district is a charter school authorizer, meaning that Spokane's 2 charter schools presented their school plans to the district prior to opening, although they remained financially independent.  The charter school initiative passed with 50.7% approval in 2012, making Washington the 42nd state to approve charter schools.  The League of Women voters and the Washington Education Association filed a lawsuit to overturn the initiative and not allow public charter schools.  Then, on September 4, 2015, just weeks after the schools opened, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that charter schools, privately run and publicly funded, are unconstitutional on the basis that they are not "common schools," and therefore they cannot receive public or "common school funding."  The Supreme Court decision was expected to go into effect December 14, 2015, at which point charter schools will no longer receive state money.  On April 1, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee allowed Senate Bill 6194 to become law without his signature.  It keeps charter schools afloat with state lottery money, rather than general fund tax revenues.  As a result, Spokane International Academy completed the 2015-2016 school year.  (State charter schools may join Springdale district, reporter Eli Francovich, The Spokesman-Review, December 5, 2015; and Charter School cites fast start, by Blyte Thimsen, The Journal of Business, June 16, 2016) 
Details of the decision to allow Charter Schools to run.
Washington State Supreme Court rejected Charter Schools.  Charter schools are unconstitutional in Washington, the state Supreme Court said in a decision that endangers two charters in Spokane that just opened.  The court in its decision released September 4, 2015, voided an initiative approved by voters in 2012, saying charter schools don’t fit the definition of “common schools” that’s set down in the constitution, because they lack local control and local accountability.  The court’s majority said it wasn’t concerned about the merits of charter schools. Instead, the case revolves strictly around whether the initiative complies with the constitution, specifically Article IX, which says state revenues can only go to common schools and court-tested definitions of those institutions.

“In sum, without funding, charter schools are not viable,” Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote in an opinion that struck down the entire initiative.  Justice Mary Fairhurst said the schools might be able to get other tax money that isn’t restricted in the general fund.  ("Court rejects charter schools, 6-3 ruling says money used unconstitutionally under Initiative 1240, reporter Jim Camden, jimc@spokesman.com, (509) 7461, The Spokesman-Review, September 5, 2015) 

Supreme Court's final decision.  The Washington Supreme Court says it will not reconsider its ruling striking down the state charter school law.  Nine charter schools have opened in the state under the conditions of the 2012 law.  They have continued to receive state funding pending the court's decision on the request for reconsideration.  Supporters of charter schools say they will find the money to keep those schools open even when state dollars stop flowing toward the independent public schools.  The court also removed one section from its ruling that some people argued would make other kinds of alternative schools ineligible for state dollars.  (Source:  "No reconsideration for charter schools," by Donna Gordon Blankinship, Associated Press, November 20, 2015)

Charter Schools and Running Start help to move students out of over-crowded classrooms in public schools; however, in addition to Charter Schools, additional programs like Running Start, tribal compact schools and specialized skill programs could also be affected by the ruling, putting them in jeopardy.  Washington State Charter Schools Association CEO Thomas Franta said, "All of those operations are governed in the same way."   (AG urges court to reconsider, as charter schools weigh options, by Eli Francovich, The Spokesman-Review, September 25, 2015) 
Statistics
  • The charter school initiative passed with 50.7% in 2012, and made Washington the 42nd state to approve charter schools. 

  • Washington has 9 charter schools with a combined enrollment of over 1,000 students.  
Additional Resources

Eight charter schools set to open in Washington state.
  (Donna Gordon Blankinship, Associated Press, August 17, 2015, printed in The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/aug/17/eight-charter-schools-set-to-open-in-washington/)