UPDATE: Protecting Flexibility and Accountability for Washington’s Charter Schools

Earlier this year, the state Office of Superintendent (OSPI) put forth a new set of proposed fiscal and reporting rules impacting Washington’s public charter schools. To help ensure public charter schools are set up for success, WA Charters immediately reached out to OSPI to express our concern about some of the proposed rules and how a number of them could conflict with the intent and spirit of the voter-approved public charter school law.

Throughout this process, OSPI staff and leadership have listened to members of the public charter school community. We were pleased that OSPI was receptive to our feedback and removed rules that would require public charter schools to contract exclusively with Educational Service Districts (ESDs) in their first year and maintain certain staffing ratios, which might not account for support from teacher assistants or other staff.

However, these changes do not adequately address the full range of issues we raised, and the resulting draft regulations remain unnecessarily burdensome on public charter schools operating in our state. With eight public charter schools set to open beginning this month, schools need to be focused on providing a great education for kids, not unnecessary and duplicative reporting requirements.

To keep that focus on kids, we need to make sure schools are able to operate in a way that is consistent with the voter-approved public charter school law—recognized as one of the strongest in the nation. Public charter schools work because they are given more flexibility in exchange for greater accountability for student success.

We, along with the public charter school community, remain concerned about proposed rules that would infringe upon the autonomy and flexibility granted to public charter schools. Here are a couple of our top concerns:

  • A proposed rule requiring public charter schools to fill out burdensome personnel reports and LEAP salary forms. These forms—used for calculating teacher pay for traditional schools—are not needed for public charter school funding and unnecessarily take time away from schools and their students.
  • The rules also have conflicting language about how public charter schools are funded and supervised.

That’s why we’re asking OSPI to delay adoption and implementation of these rules until substantive changes are made. Schools should be able to focus more on supporting their students rather than unnecessary regulations.

Yesterday, WA Charters CEO Tom Franta delivered testimony to specifically address these concerns. You can read about those concerns in full detail here.

We appreciate OSPI’s collaboration and willingness to revise the proposed rules.  We hope that further changes will be made in order to make sure public charter schools retain the flexibility and autonomy outlined in the voter-approved law. Clear and consistent rules will allow public charter schools in our state to keep the focus on kids.

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