Yakima County school districts to explore options of charter schools

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The State Board of Education met in Yakima on Wednesday to go over charter schools. A couple of school districts in Yakima County have expressed interest in starting charter schools, but are holding off for now.

Members of the State Board of Education are in Yakima pushing forward on establishing charter schools in Washington. But, the Yakima School District isn't jumping on the bandwagon. Some parents feel like they're left in the dark.

"The parents of Yakima School District should be more informed about what the charter schools mean and who's going to be regulating and what they're going to be doing and how they're going to differ from the public school system," said Brandy Levene.

The rules aren't clear for some local education leaders either. Yakima School Board President Martha Rice wants to know more about the rules and regulations.

"We want to make sure that we're doing it in a thoughtful manner that is actually reflective of what the community wants us to do," said Martha Rice.

Rice said the Yakima School Board doesn't want to commit to starting a charter school yet. She worried it would be too expensive and require too much time from staff.

"If scores aren't best of the best, how come you guys aren't pushing harder to authorize charter schools?" KIMA asked.
"Well, it's quite a process to go through the application process on its own just by itself," said Martha.

"I think they should press the issue and I'm a little disappointed they're actually not," said parent Brian Tenney.

No more than eight charter schools can be started in any year within a five-year period.

The Yakima and Sunnyside school districts both filed letters of intent to set the stage for charter schools in the future. However, neither applied to have the authority to approve charter schools.

The Board of Education unanimously approved the Spokane School District's bid today to become the state's first authorizer.