The Washington State Board of Education is ready to take public comment on rules it hopes to adopt in February concerning the next steps toward opening up to eight public charter schools by fall 2014.
The rules would establish an annual application and approval process, and timelines for school boards that want to authorize charter schools.
The boards could begin applying as soon as April 1 and find out by the end of summer if they can start authorizing schools.
Eventually the state board would set more rules in response to the state’s new charter law.
In November, voters approved adding charter schools to the mix of public schools. The state board has been given some oversight over the system.
The ballot initiative also established a Charter School Commission to manage other parts of the process. The commission, which also will approve charter contracts, won’t start its work until March.
Before discussing its draft rules, the board heard an outside expert on charter school authorization, who started with an analysis of the new state law and his advice for success.
Design your system with failure in mind so the inevitable closing of schools will go smoothly, advised Alex Medler, vice president of policy and advocacy for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
“Sometimes even the best people will fail,” he said.
He said Washington’s new charter law sets up the state for success because of its language around authorization and oversight. In national comparisons of charter laws, Medler said, Washington ranks near the top in terms of following advice and preparing to create a quality system.