2 more Washington charter school proposals get OK from outside evaluators



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SEATTLE — Washington's statewide charter schools commission appears poised to approve two more proposals for charter schools to open in the state in 2015, after a team of independent evaluators rejected plans for two other schools.

The schools expected to be approved at a meeting next week of the Charter School Commission in Yakima are a Green Dot middle and high school in Seattle and an elementary school in Sunnyside in Central Washington.

The commission is not required to follow the evaluators' recommendations. Earlier this year, when the commission discussed the first group of proposed charter schools, it and approved one school that didn't get a green light from evaluators after the review process.

The two schools that did not getting positive recommendations were a proposed bilingual elementary school in or near Vancouver, Washington, and a school for children with special needs in the vicinity of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The commission partnered with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers to create the outside evaluation process.

The outside evaluators wrote in their reports posted online late last week that the proposed Bilingual Charter Academy needs to work on all three elements of its plan, including financial, academic and operations. The Village Academy near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which is applying for the second time, needs to work on its academic plan, according to the evaluators.

Joshua Halsey, the executive director of the commission, said he expects those schools to come to the meeting in Yakima to plead their cases.

Halsey said the commission has been impressed with the commitment and passion of the applicants, especially two who came back with a new application in this round. "Everyone that we've seen come to us has been incredibly passionate about the students they want to serve," he said.

The next step will include gaining a deeper understanding of what the application process requires, how state education finance works and how to get the money they will need beyond the dollars provided by the state.

The state's first charter school opened this fall. Another eight schools are already set to open in 2015, including one approved earlier this month in Spokane.

State voters in 2012 approved a charter-school measure that allows up to 40 independent public schools to open over five years. This is the second year for the new charter application process in Washington state.

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