3:28 PM: West Seattle’s first charter school is still moving toward opening in Arbor Heights next fall, despite the state Supreme Court ruling saying public funding for charter schools is unconstitutional.
That’s according to Jen Wickens, regional director for California-based Summit Public Schools, which plans to open Summit Atlas, a charter middle/high school, at 9601 35th SW. Washington Charter School Development bought the site from Freedom Church in June for $4,750,000, initially with a large-scale remodeling/addition project that has now been changed to two phases, the first to get the building ready to host the founding 6th- and 9th-grade classes next fall. City files show its permit is still pending.
Wickens tells WSB that the Washington Charter School Commission “unanimously approved the Atlas contract” earlier this month. She says that while Summit is “deeply disappointed” with the state Supreme Court ruling, they’re moving ahead because “we remain hopeful that we will find a solution to serve the students and families of West Seattle.”
Summit opened its first two schools in Washington this fall and took interested West Seattle families on a tour of one earlier today, Summit Sierra in the International District. Wickens says the Summit Atlas principal, Greg Ponikvar, “has been meeting with families and students and we know there is deep interest from the West Seattle community.” The Charter School Commission approved Summit’s application in August, less than a month after a hearing held at the building the school intends to use. First word of the charter-school plan emerged in January, when we found out about it via a building-permit application that popped up in city files.
Meantime, 10 state legislators – none from our area – are asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider its decision. The ruling has not been finalized, which is why, as explained in this month’s report by the Charter Commission’s executive director, the schools that are open have continued to receive state funding.
ADDED 4:09 PM: And there’s word a short time ago of another filing asking the Supreme Court to reconsider – this one is a “friend of the court” brief from four former state Attorneys General – Ken Eikenberry, Slade Gorton, Christine Gregoire, and Rob McKenna. Here’s the document.