Building on Success: Washington State Charter Public Schools Head Back to School, Grow to Serve More Grade Levels

Enrollment for Washington’s Charter Public Schools In Full Swing as Schools Expand for Second Year

Students at Rainier Prep

August 16, 2016
Contact: Maggie Meyers at (724) 263-9826

SEATTLE, WA – Washington’s eight operating charter public schools are expanding and adding new grade levels as they launch this week and throughout the month into their second year of operation. The schools’ successful first year saw significant academic gains, attracting new families, as current students advanced grade levels. Washington’s operating charter public schools—located in Seattle, Kent, Tacoma and Spokane—opened in Fall 2015 to serve more than 1,100 students in their founding year. Three additional authorized schools are set to open in 2017-18, further expanding quality school options for families across the state.

“Our sector is thriving and growing as families return for a second year and schools expand their grade level offerings,” said Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) CEO Tom Franta. “It’s really inspiring to see so many parents and kids excited about heading back to school and learning and to know that Washington’s charter public schools have become such a vital part of so many Washington communities.”

Several of Washington’s charter public schools are hosting open houses for media to learn about their unique offerings and models and to meet school leaders and educators, including:

  • Summit Sierra – Hosting a Media Open House on Wednesday, August 17th from 8:00-9:30 a.m. on site at 1025 S. King Street, Seattle, WA 98104.
  • Green Dot Destiny Middle School and Summit Olympus –  Co-hosting a Media Day onThursday, August 18 from 7:30 – 11:00 a.m. (7:30 – 9am at Destiny Middle School [1301 E. 34th St., Tacoma, WA 98404], 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. at Summit Olympus [409 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, WA 98421])
  • Tours of all of the schools are also available on request. Parents and community members interested in attending a school tour or learning about their local options should visit or contact the WA Charters office at (206) 832-8505.

Beyond the basic grade level requirements, there are no requirements for admission to a Washington state charter public school. All of the schools are tuition free and open to all students who fill out an enrollment form. If more students enroll than the school has spaces for in a given grade level, schools hold random lotteries. Students whose names are not drawn in the lottery are automatically put on a waiting list.

This week marked the official start of the 2016-17 academic school year for Summit Public Schools’ two high school campuses, Sierra (Seattle) and Olympus (Tacoma); and classes start at the state’s six other charter public schools over the next three weeks. However, enrollment remains open at most schools through the start of the year.

Explore the expansion plans and official first days of school for the 2016-17 academic year for each of Washington’s charter public schools below:


  • Green Dot Destiny Middle School, which served sixth grade in its founding year, is enrolling sixth and seventh grade for Fall 2016, and will grow to its full capacity serving grades 6-8 by Fall 2017.
    • First Day of School: Monday, August 22
  • SOAR Academy, which eventually will serve grades K-8, served K-1 in its first year, and will grow to serve K-2 in Fall 2016.
    • First Day of School: Optional Kindergarten start on Tuesday, August 30; All grades in session starting Wednesday, August 31
  • Summit Olympus High School, which opened to ninth graders in its founding year, is enrolling ninth and tenth graders for this coming school year, and will ultimately grow to serve grades 9-12.
    • First Day of School: Tuesday, August 16 – Wednesday, August 17


  • Excel Public Charter School, served sixth and seventh grades in its first year, is growing to serve 6-8 in Fall 2016, and will continue to grow to serve grades 6-12 at capacity.
    • First Day of School: Monday, August 22
  • Rainier Prep, located in South King County, served fifth and sixth grades in its founding year. This fall, Rainier Prep will grow to serve grades 5-7, and the school will ultimately offer grades 5-8 at full capacity by Fall 2017.
    • First Day of School: Tuesday, August 30
  • Summit Sierra High School, located in Seattle’s International District, opened to ninth graders in its founding year. Sierra is enrolling ninth and tenth graders for this coming school year, and will ultimately serve grades 9-12 by 2018.
    • First Day of School: Tuesday, August 16 – Wednesday, August 17


  • Spokane International Academy, which served Kindergarten, first and sixth grades in 2015-16, will expand to serve K-2 and 6-7 in 2016-17. SIA will continue to grow until it reaches its full capacity as a K-8 model.
    • First Day of School: Kindergarten start on Tuesday, 8/23; All grades in session on Wednesday, August 24.
  • PRIDE Prep, which served sixth and seventh grades in its founding year, will grow to serve grades 6-8 in 2016-17, and ultimately will expand to serve grades 6-12.
    • First Day of School: Tuesday, September 6


  • Green Dot Public Schools will open a new school in South Seattle that will serve sixth grade in 2017-18, sixth, seventh and ninth grade in 2018-19, and will grow further to serve grades 6-12 at capacity.
  • Summit Atlas, set to open in West Seattle, will serve sixth and ninth grade in Fall 2017, and will expand to serve grades 6-12.
  • Willow Public School, authorized to open in Walla Walla in Fall 2017, will serve sixth and seventh grades in its first year, and will expand to serve grades 6-8 at capacity.

All eight of Washington’s currently operating charter public schools are enrolling for 2016-17. More information about each school, including links to enrollment pages, can be found at:


About Washington’s Public Charter Schools

Charter schools are a type of public school, approved and overseen by a state or district authorizer. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter public schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.

Washington’s charter public schools are helping to close the education equity gap. More than 67 percent of charter public school students in Washington are students of color, as compared to 43 percent statewide. Two-thirds of charter public school students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, as compared to 45 percent statewide. At four of Washington’s charter public schools, this number exceeds 70 percent.

In some communities, traditional public schools are meeting the needs of local students. But in other communities – particularly communities of color that struggle with poverty – they are not. In Washington, African American, Latino and Native American students are scoring between 15-20 percent lower on state assessments. According to mid-year assessment results, students at Washington’s charter public schools were making impressive gains in reading and math in their first year at their new schools.


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