For Immediate Release: February 23, 2021
Contact: Maggie Meyers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (724) 263-9826
Spokane, WA – Yesterday, The Washington State Charter School Commission announced that it approved a grade-level expansion for Spokane International Academy (SIA), to grow from a K-8 to a K-12 program, starting in the 2021-22 school year. SIA is one of four charter public schools that the state Commission recently approved for renewal to operate for another five years based on student outcomes.
“We are thrilled that the Washington State Charter School Commission has supported our desire to expand to students in grades 9-12 and provide a full K-12 continuum for our model. SIA’s original vision of a K-8 will be strengthened by the ability to now ensure our students and families have access to our program from kindergarten through college,” said SIA Founder and CEO Travis Franklin.
Per the Commission’s press release, “Every charter public school must develop and execute well-organized plans that uphold student-centered, academically rigorous, fiscally sound schools. Spokane International Academy’s approval for an expansion into high school is based on its track record of operational, financial, and academic success in providing a tuition-free public school choice that is accountable for the outcomes of its students.”
WA Charters’ CEO Patrick D’Amelio expressed support for the expansion, stating “SIA’s culturally responsive, globally focused model is a popular option in the community. A substantial waitlist for its K-8 program indicates a strong need for an additional option for families and students who need something different. This expansion will mean that students along the full K-12 continuum, particularly students who have been marginalized and underserved, will have a reliable pathway to college or career. We look forward to continuing to partner with SIA as we advocate for equitable funding for charter public school students and the creation of new charter public school seats.”
The newly approved “Upper Academy” will serve grades 9-12, with a mission to prepare global citizens ready to pursue college and career and transform their communities. The program is aligned with SIA’s Lower and Middle Academies and will continue the charter public school’s global focus. SIA’s Upper Academy will ensure that students are prepared for success in a college or career pathway of their choice beyond high school graduation.
Upper Academy students will spend their first two years of high school on campus, receiving SIA’s globally focused curriculum that includes English, Spanish, math, and science. All SIA students will complete 10th grade with the prerequisites necessary to participate in the Running Start program in 11th and 12th grade.
Prior to entering the 11th-grade year, SIA mentors and teachers will work with students to help identify their desired pathway – college or career. For those on the college track, SIA will help students enroll in Running Start—a state-funded program that allows high school students to earn high school and college credit tuition-free—through Eastern Washington University or Spokane Falls Community College. Students interested in the career pathway will remain enrolled part-time at Spokane International Academy for English and math but will also be enrolled at a career pathway program. The NewTech Skills Center, a regional career and technical education provider, will offer SIA 11th and 12th graders an opportunity to work towards a trade certification and job placement in fields including graphic design, automotive repair, and medical, dental, or veterinary assisting. Project SEARCH is an alternative career pathway that provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent-living skills to students with significant disabilities to make successful transitions to productive adult life.
Said Franklin, “The dedication of all SIA staff, board members, volunteers, students, and families has led to our ability to add this final piece to our program. This new high school program will allow all of our students the opportunity to leave high school with a 2-year college degree or a trade certification, both of which will give students a solid footing for their post-secondary pursuits.”
SIA will gradually build out its Upper Academy, opening to 9th graders for the 2021-22 school year, and then growing by one grade level per year until it serves the full K-12 continuum in 2024-2025. The Upper Academy will be co-located with the Lower and Middle school at the SIA Campus, located at 777 E. Magnesium Road in Spokane.