January 16, 2014 in City

Spokane charter schools clear hurdle

By The Spokesman-Review
 

People hoping to launch the first charter schools in Spokane faced no opposition Wednesday during the first and only public hearing on the controversial plans.

It was a much different scene than Monday’s first hearing in Seattle before the Washington State Charter School Commission, where two applicants were barraged with anti-charter comments from members of the Seattle teachers union.

Spokane’s teachers union kept mum Wednesday during the meeting where about 75 people filled chairs in Spokane Public Schools’ boardroom.

“We really didn’t know what would happen,” said Jeff Bierman, board president, who had heard about the tough hearing in Seattle.

Charter schools have been wrapped in controversy since voters approved the law in November 2012, allowing eight schools to open per year over five years. The Washington Education Association, along with several other plaintiffs, is waging a legal fight to declare the schools unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, two of the three charter applicants in Spokane made presentations: Pride Prep and iLead. A representative of the third, Academy of Arts and Sciences, missed a connecting flight and failed to attend.

The board’s decision on whether to authorize the schools is expected Jan. 22.


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