West Seattle’s first and to date only charter school, Summit Atlas, plans a ribboncutting event tomorrow for the new building they’ve added to their Arbor Heights site (which had its first ribboncutting a year ago). We toured it and talked with Summit Atlas’s high-school principal Katie Bubalo as she prepares for the new school year, which starts August 20th for new students, August 21st for returning students.
Summit Atlas opened a year ago with 6th and 9th grades and this year will continue ramping up toward being a full 6th-12th-grade campus by adding 7th and 10th grades. Bubalo says the 7th grade has a waiting list but there’s room in other grades. Asked about last year’s enrollment, she said it fluctuated but ended the year around 105 students in 6th grade, 65 in 9th grade, and while she couldn’t cite numbers, she said the “overwhelming majority” are returning this year.
The new building – adjacent to the former supermarket/church that Summit remodeled before opening last year – has two stories and will mostly be used for the high-school grades, though elective classes for all students (including drama, art, yoga) will be held there. It includes room for special-education classes and a new program called Joy Academy for special-education students whose disabilities might lead them to seek alternatives to traditional college – job training, life skills, etc.
The emphasis in Summit buildings is on flexible open space. Each floor in the new building has a common area; on the ground floor, that space will be used as a lunch area for the high-school students, among other things. (It is a closed campus; Bubalo says they might have a conversation with parents in future years about whether to change that for the older high-school students.)
Upstairs classrooms include spaces for English classes that will also include the school library.
This year, Summit Atlas’s staff will double in size, about 30, according to Bubalo. They will all be on hand at tomorrow’s 12 pm ribboncutting event, as will students and families. We asked about other stats from the first year. Their assessment results will eventually be released by the state, Bubalo said. She describes their demographics as “no (ethnic group) over 35 percent” and evenly split between students eligible for free/reduced-price lunch and those who are not.
Charter schools, approved by Washington voters in 2012, receive state funds for operations; purchase of and construction at the 9601 35th SW site was funded by Washington Charter School Development, from which Summit leases it. Both WCSD and Summit are part of California-based organizations.
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