Spokane Selects First Charter School, More Schools To Follow In Western Washington

Jan 23, 2014

The first charter school in Washington state will open in Spokane next year. 

Pride Prep was chosen from a pool of three applicants by the board of Spokane Public Schools on Wednesday. Brenda McDonald, a former middle school principal, will run the school for sixth through 12th graders. The school will focus on math and science, and have both a longer school day — eight hours instead of six — as well as a longer school year.

McDonald says her approach, like all charter schools, will be to teach kids in a different way.

"One week a quarter, we’ll take our students out into the community. And they’ll do career exploration and internships and leadership development, so they get to interact with the community and think about what they want to do with their lives after high school," she said.

McDonald now needs to raise an estimated $500,000 to $2 million in order to fund start-up costs. She also needs to find a location.

Meanwhile, a total of 19 groups are awaiting a decision by the state's Charter School Commission on whether they'll open charter schools in and around Seattle and Tacoma.

The proposed schools range in nature, with specialized programs such as the arts or sports. The commission, which will make its selection on Jan. 30, is one of two entities authorized to select charter schools following voter approval of Initiative 1240 in November 2012.