Spokane could have the first charter school in Washington by next fall.
It will be a historic and controversial development closely watched by school administrators, teachers, politicians and education reformists throughout the state.
Voters approved charter schools last year, and Spokane Public Schools has dashed to be among the first districts to allow the independent schools to form and operate within its boundary.
On Wednesday the state Board of Education gave the go-ahead, though a pending lawsuit brought by the state teachers union could unravel the charter school initiative.
“Today is a historic day for the board,” said board member Cindy McMullen. “We have approved Spokane as the first school district charter authorizer. The board conducted a rigorous review process and found Spokane’s application to be of very high quality.”
Charter schools are independent public schools that use nontraditional and innovative teaching methods. They are held accountable for improved student achievement, receive taxpayer funding and are governed by their own boards.
Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger said she was excited to hear the news.
“I think we’ll get a lot of interest,” Redinger said. “It’ll be a good thing.”