The first members of Washington state’s new Charter School Commission are due to be appointed Wednesday. The commission will be able to approve some of the 40 charter schools allowed under the law voters passed last fall.
The independent state agency will have nine members – three appointments each from Governor Jay Inslee, Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen and Speaker of the House of Representatives Frank Chopp. The law requires that commissioners come from various parts of the state and different political parties. They also need to have a range of experience, from public school leadership, to management and finance, to teaching and testing methods. The one thing they’re all required to have in common under the law is a commitment to charter schools "as a strategy for strengthening public education."
Teachers, education reform advocates and a former Seattle School Board member have applied to be commissioners, but lawmakers can appoint anyone who fits the bill.
Ultimately, commission members will serve staggered, four-year terms, but the first appointees will serve one-, two- or three-year terms so their successors' terms will be staggered.
School districts will soon be able to apply to authorize charter schools as well.
The state’s first charter schools could be approved in time to open this fall.