Three of eight new charter schools that hope to open in Washington state want to locate in Tacoma.
The state Charter School Commission recently released a list of nonprofit organizations that submitted notices of intent this year, signaling their interest in completing the full charter application process.
They include Utah-based mStar Academies, locally based Tacoma Preparatory Academy and Pennsylvania-based Phase 4 America Learning Center, which lists both Seattle and Tacoma as potential locations.
Three charter schools have already been approved for Tacoma and are scheduled to open this fall: SOAR Academy, for students in kindergarten through eighth grade; Green Dot Middle School; and Summit Olympus High School.
Statewide, the eight new applicants propose locations ranging from Walla Walla to Lynden.
Here are program descriptions submitted by each of the three Tacoma applicants:
mStar: It would be a kindergarten through high school program, offering Advanced Placement classes and college preparatory work. It would offer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), the arts and blended learning, which combines traditional classroom instruction with computer-based learning. It would accept students in kindergarten through grade 10 the first year of operation, in 2016.
Tacoma Preparatory Academy: The academy plans a four-year high school that promises a holistic curriculum based on the STEAM model — STEM plus the arts. The school seeks to build an ethnically diverse culture and reduce the achievement gap that plagues many students of color. It would also offer a language immersion program, in which a student’s second language is employed across the curriculum. It would accept students only in grade nine during its first year. The academy’s notice of intent lists 2015 as its opening year.
Phase 4 America Charter School: It would offer education for students in a kindergarten through high school program, but would accept only students in kindergarten through third grade in its first year of operation in 2016. It is planned as an alternative school, offering blended learning and college preparatory classes.
To be considered further, the schools must complete comprehensive applications by May 15. Commission members will interview applicants in June and applicants will attend public forums in late July.
The state Charter School Commission will vote on which schools to approve at its Aug. 13 meeting in Seattle.
Charter schools are publicly funded, independently governed and free to all students. A state initiative establishing charter schools won voter approval in 2012.