Kent applicant to appear before State Charter School Commission at public forum

The man who wants to open a charter school in Kent will appear at a public forum hosted by the Washington State Charter School Commission from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the Puget Sound Educational Service District offices, 800 Oakesdale Ave. S.W., in Renton.

The forum is one of nine across the state to hear directly from the 19 applicants and learn more about the educational needs of the prospective charter communities, according to a Charter School Commission media release.

The forums are a part of the official evaluation process and are designed to ensure that Charter Commissioners are able to hear and learn from members of the communities where the charters would reside.

Charter applicants will be given 10 minutes for presentations, after which the floor will be open for 30 minutes of public comment. Community members who wish to comment publicly will be limited to two minutes each in order to accommodate as many participants as possible. Speakers will be randomly selected in a lottery prior to the meeting.

Adel Sefrioui hopes to open a new public charter school in Kent called The Excel Public Charter School. The proposal is under consideration with 18 other charters. The school would take state funding but operate independently of the Kent School District. Assuming the proposal is approved by the Charter School Commission, it will be up and running by the 2015-2016 school year.

Charter schools are independent public schools operated by non-profit organizations that are allowed more flexibility to be innovative with their educational program and are held accountable for improved student achievement, according to the Charter School Commission media release.

Broadly, charters must adhere to the same state learning standards, accountability goals, health, safety, and non-discrimination laws, must hire certificated teachers, must follow generally accepted accounting principles and are subject to state financial audits. They are free and open to all students.

Washington voters narrowly approved the creation of up to 40 charter schools over a five-year period in the 2012 election.

Among the differences between public schools and the Excel Charter School will be a longer school day and year, Sefrioui said. He hopes to bring the school day out to nine hours and expand the days that the school is open.

Traditional public school days run for 180 days of the year, while he hopes to have Excel open for 193 days. Doing so will allow the school to incorporate more creative electives, he said, such as computer programing and biotechnology classes.

Two other applicants are scheduled to be at the same Jan. 15 forum as The Excel Public Charter School. The Coral Academy is on the agenda from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and the Cedar River Academy from 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Individuals or groups wishing to provide written comment may send their statements to the Washington State Charter School Commission, P.O. Box 40996 Olympia, WA 98504-0996. Comments may also be hand delivered to the public forums. Written comments are limited to one page (12 point font).

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