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Washington Lawmakers Propose Second Bill to Save State's Charter Schools

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Washington state lawmakers have introduced a second bipartisan bill to restore the state's charter school law ahead of the legislative session that starts next week.

The Washington Supreme Court struck down the voter-approved law in September, weeks after school had started at many of the state's charter schools.

Since then, charter advocates have been pushing for a permanent legislative fix to the charter law while scrambling to come up with creative ways to keep schools open through the end of the school year.

The court's September ruling argued that charters did not qualify as common schools (basically public schools) because they are not overseen by locally elected school boards and, therefore, were not eligible to receive the same funding.

This second bill would amend the law so that charter schools draw from a different pool of money, which includes lottery revenue, whereas the bill filed earlier this week would require charter schools to be overseen by local school boards

Although making charter schools accountable to school boards may tweak the law enough to pass constitutional muster, it's not necessarily an ideal solution for many charter advocates who support the schools because they are independent from local districts.

Charter advocates, however, were quick to praise the second bill.

"We are especially pleased to see lawmakers from both sides of the aisle come together around a solution that maintains the ability of all parents in Washington—not just those in some districts—to choose the public school that best fits the needs of every child," said Thomas Franta, the CEO of the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

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