Washington Charter Schools Get Creative To Keep State Funding
Washington state’s charter schools are starting the year with new funding sources after state dollars were cut off in December.
While school was out for winter vacation, charter operators and their supporters were hard at work to keep the doors open and state funds flowing to the schools.
Six schools are now contracting with a small school district in Eastern Washington to serve as "alternative learning experiences."
That means students at the schools are now technically enrolled in the Mary Walker School District near Spokane.
Two other charters are now receiving state funds to serve as homeschool centers, although students still attend school just as they did before.
A spokeswoman for the state charter schools association says these are all just stopgap measures until the legislature changes state law to legalize charters.
Critics say the state is bending the rules to keep the schools running with tax dollars.
The state Supreme Court ruled last summer that charter schools aren’t eligible for common schools funding because they aren’t overseen by elected boards.
The state’s first charter school has abandoned its charter status completely; First Place Scholars in Seattle has gone back to its previous incarnation as a grant-funded private school.
That leaves eight charter schools with more than 1,000 students across the state.