With state funding restored, charter operator ‘still working toward opening’ in West Seattle

(WSB file photo – future Summit Atlas site @ 35th/Roxbury)

“We are committed to opening Summit Atlas – our West Seattle school.”

That’s what charter-school operator Summit Public Schools‘ regional officer Jen Wickens told WSB when we checked in after news that Governor Inslee would not veto the bill that created a new public-funding source for charters to replace what they lost when the State Supreme Court ruled the original voter-approved plan was unconstitutional.

While the governor said he wouldn’t veto the charter-funding bill, he also said he wouldn’t sign it – the first time a bill has been allowed to become law that way in our state in more than 30 years, according to the Tacoma News-Tribune.

Summit opened two schools, in Seattle’s International District and in Tacoma, last fall. It originally planned to open Summit Atlas in fall of this year at the former Freedom Church site (35th/Roxbury) with one middle- and one high-school grade, eventually building to a full middle/high school campus. But amid the funding uncertainty, California-headquartered Summit announced in December that it would delay the West Seattle plan (first reported here in January 2015) until fall 2017. And Wickens confirms that Summit is “still working toward opening the school” on that timeline. The city continues to review its permit applications to remodel the former church (and before that, supermarket) building, purchased last summer by Washington Charter School Development for $4.75 million.

The bill, SB 6194, officially became law today; read the full text of the final version here. All three of West Seattle’s state legislators – 34th District State Sen. Sharon Nelson and State Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon – voted against it.

14 Replies to "With state funding restored, charter operator 'still working toward opening' in West Seattle"

  • Pardo April 3, 2016 (10:55 pm)

    A real example where our region’s political homogeneity has failed us.  This is actually a really good thing for our city, but the lack of any meaningful leadership in the state’s D party is glaring.  They just tow the line unfortunately.  Love to see one of our state’s Ds actually stand up for charter schools as showing a different way to do things, rather than merely sucking up to the unions.

  • Lynn April 3, 2016 (11:37 pm)

    Pardo,

    Charter schools are not a “really good thing” for our city. Where did you get that idea? They are not more successful that public schools and take money and energy away from our public schools.

    This new charter law is no better than the last. I’d have a back up plan if you intend to enroll your child here.

    As for a different way to do things, are you familiar with the wide range of public schools in this city? We don’t need new ideas on school design. We need full funding for the students in our public schools.

  • JanS April 4, 2016 (3:17 am)

    so they can always find money for these things, yet…they are willing to spen 100K per day in fines while not funding public education properly. SMFH

    and the Dems are NOT running the legislature in WA…although we have a Dem Governor…and I’m a bit disappointed in him about this…I don’t have school age kids..my daughter is 35…but the grandson is almost 2 years old…an up and coming student somewhere..

  • WS since '66 April 4, 2016 (6:32 am)

    Well said Lynn. Charter schools doesn’t have outcomes any better than public schools. If a parent wants to send their child to a private school there are many out there. No tax dollars for the private schools. Fully fund education here in Washington as our State Constitution requires.

  • PSPS April 4, 2016 (7:08 am)

    Wonderful. Olympia has devised yet another scheme to launder part of our dwindling regressive tax revenue into the pockets of CEO’s to finance their mansions, luxury cars and, probably, future “campaign contributions.”

  • Bonnie April 4, 2016 (7:24 am)

    When can we vote this bozo out?

    • Joe Szilagyi April 4, 2016 (8:10 am)

      He would need a solid, legitimate primary challenge to replace him with a Democrat that could both take enough of the margins in red counties and from independents as well as have a solid spine on not bending like a reed in the wind to all corporate interests and who would be willing and able to fight like mad to fund schools without destroying the rest of our needed state government. That seems like a tremendously hard needle to thread in a state executive, apparently. 

    • JC April 4, 2016 (8:12 am)

      I was just going to ask the same thing!!!!  Also, how in the world can t hey open a charter school across the street from that pot shop??  Isn’t that illegal to be that close to a school or potential school???

      • AMD April 4, 2016 (8:42 am)

        I believe the rule is that a pot shop cannot open so close to a school but there is no rule against a school opening up next door to a pot shop, nor will the opening of said school force the pot shop to close.

        I also want to know how the state can afford to pay for charter schools when they’re so unable to fund the basic needs of public schools that it’s cost effective for them to pay BILLIONS a year in fines instead.

  • Chris April 4, 2016 (8:05 am)

     As a teacher I fully support charter schools. Classes are overcrowded and charter schools would alleviate that pressure. 

  • WS since '66 April 4, 2016 (9:24 am)

    Chris, with all due respect that is a flimsy solution to the problem. If the classes are overcrowded don’t you think if the lawmakers fully funded education as spelled out in our State Constitution that would be a better solution than public dollars going to a private school??

  • ACG April 4, 2016 (9:31 am)

    TWO pot shops, that is.   :(

  • StringCheese April 4, 2016 (11:07 am)

    The current charter schools insisted on opening their doors with full knowledge that the constitutionality of the charter bill was being challenged. Multiple experts on constitutional law spoke out about the way the law was worded, but they just pressed on anyway. So… lo and behold, the law is deemed unconstitutional (not a surprise) and they are all hand-wringing and “oh, the kids!”. The charter operators are 100% to blame for any upset families and disrupted school years for not being upfront with the families of their potential students about the likelihood of shutdown due to the constitutional challenge. I can understand the families’ outrage but it directed in the wrong place. It is not the fault of the WA Supreme Court that their schools were opened or that they were closed. It is the charter operators who decided to gamble with their students’ learning and stability.

    There should have been a stay on opening any charter operations while the constitutional challenge was being decided. This new “unsigned” law is also being challenged and will, more than likely, also be found unconstitutional. So, are they learning from past mistakes? NO. They are going to just move forward and put more families at risk.

    All of this immediate action for 0.1% of WA’s students and NOTHING for the other 99.9%. Shame! Fund McLeary first. Write a bill that will stand up constitutionally by demanding financial accountability and oversight of any charter schools to a full publicly elected board. Then, and only then, should a charter be allowed to open its doors.

  • dcn April 4, 2016 (12:04 pm)

    Chris,

    Unfortunately, putting some students in charter schools does not lower class sizes or relieve pressure in public schools. It’s the opposite. Public schools lose the funding that those students would have brought. Schools get money from the state based on the number of students enrolled. So, instead of relieving pressure, schools might have to reduce the number of classes being offered. It could go either way on class size, and will depend on which schools lose the most students to the charter schools. 

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