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KSD considers introducing charter schools

The Kent School District, along with 12 others from throughout the state, has taken the first steps toward introducing charter schools.

In November, voters passed Initiative 1240, allowing the implementation of charter schools throughout willing districts in the state. April 1 was the deadline for any school district looking to pursue that track to submit a letter of interest to the State Board of Education. Although the letter does not solidify the decision, Chris Loftis, executive director of communications, said it is a way for the district and School Board to "keep (their) options open."

"To lose the option to be a part of the discussion in our own district boundaries just seemed imprudent to the Board," Loftis said. "We are currently looking into the intricacies of the authorization process as well as the costs involved and doing a thorough cost-benefit analysis."

If the district decides to continue the process of implementing charter schools, the next step would be to fill out an authorizer application, which "includes questions about the district's vision for what charter schools will accomplish there. It also asks districts to detail their capacity for managing and overseeing charter schools and what criteria they will use to accept, oversee, and, if necessary, revoke charter school authorization," according to the Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools website.

Districts have until July 1 to submit the application to be approved by the State Board of Education this coming fall.

As of now, Loftis said "there are a number of senior leaders in the district, including superintendent (Edward Lee) Vargas, that have extensive experience working with charter school system in other states," assuring that if the district were to pursue this decision, it would be "well positioned to soon present reasonable approaches to the School Board" on how to go about implementing these types of schools.

The other districts that sent in a letter of interest to become authorizers are Yakima, Peninsula, Battle Ground, Eastmont, Sequim, Sunnyside, Bellevue, Highline, Port Townsend, Naselle, Spokane and Tacoma.

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