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Kent gets a charter school

After months of planning, waiting and hoping, Excel School was awarded a charter to operate in the city of Kent, becoming one of the first seven charter schools in the state.

"We were just absolutely thrilled and deeply humbled that the commission had selected us," said school director Adel Sefrioui.

Now that the school has made it to selection, Sefrioui plans to work on finding a building to house Excel.

"We had a few on our list," he said. "Ideally we want to open our school in an existing school because the classroom walls are already up."

One such site is the older Kent Elementary School on Fourth Avenue, across the street from City Hall.

"It hasn't been used by the school district for over a decade," Sefrioui said. "It's been rented out by the Calvary Church, and they just moved out so its vacant right now. It's definitely our number one choice. If we don't wind up getting a site like that, we'd have to build that."

Sefrioui's primary goal in a location is one that could be easily adapted for student needs, and so any facilities such as gyms and cafeterias not available would need to be constructed.

Sefrioui says that the Excel board is considering other locations, including a portion of the Green River Community college extension at Kent Station or refitting one of the many warehouses that dot the Kent landscape.

In addition to the new location, Sefrioui expects to begin the hiring process for the school soon.

Eight community members currently chair the school, and Sefrioui hopes to bring on an additional Kent resident. He says the board plans to hire a dean by August, who will then go through the hiring process for teachers and staff.

Sefrioui expects to have the school open for the 2015-2016 school year.

The key components of Excel's curriculum will be a rigorous academic schedule and heavy emphasis on STEM subjects, specifically computer science and biomedical subjects.

While some educators have raised issues with Excel's different methods — particularly its extended school days — but Sefrioui insists that the schools the Excel board of directors have used as models for Excel's program are some of the best schools in the nation.

"The only point I can give is to schools that are in different cities outside of Washington," he said.

Other schools accepted were First Place Scholars and Sierra in Seattle, Green Dot Charter, SOAR Academy and Olympus in Tacoma, and PRIDE Prep in Spokane.

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