Public Charter Bill Moves Forward

Following Testimony from Students and Parents, Senate Education Committee Votes for Bill to Save Public Charter Schools Statewide

OLYMPIA – After hearing passionate testimony on Tuesday in support of public charter schools from students and parents who traveled from Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane, the Washington State Senate Education Committee today voted in favor of Senate Bill 6194, marking a real victory for current and future public charter school families.

The proposed legislation, introduced by Senators Steve Litzow (R – Mercer Island), Mark Mullet (D – Issaquah), Joe Fain, (R – Auburn), and Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens), honors the will of the voters by reinstating the 2012 voter approved public charter school law, with an updated funding mechanism that addresses the problem facing public charter schools, as well as other public schools not considered common schools, and would keep school doors open.

The passage of Senate Bill 6194 out of the Senate Education Committee is a clear indication that legislators are listening to students and parents who are insisting that their innovative public schools stay open. Parents and students will continue to advocate for Senate Bill 6194 as it advances through the Senate. The legislation is now expected to be in heard in the Ways and Means Committee on Monday.

“My family and so many others are thankful our Senators listened to kids and parents from across the state whose needs are being met by public charter schools,” said Melissa Pailthorp who testified on Tuesday and has one daughter at Summit Sierra and two daughters in district-run public schools. “We are hopeful their colleagues will also do the right thing. For my family it’s not about district or charter public schools, it’s about finding the best fit for each of our daughters.”

Senate Bill 6194 prevents schools from shutting down, fixes the funding glitch, and honors the will of the voters by reinstating the 2012 law. It creates a new funding mechanism for the public charter schools and other public programs through lottery funds dedicated to the Opportunity Pathways Account.

The student and parent-led Act Now for Washington Students coalition commended the bipartisan group of legislators for taking action to save public charter schools: “The voters spoke in 2012 when they passed a law that would allow for public charter schools to be part of our public education ecosystem. We applaud legislators for taking action to ensure that these schools stay open and that diverse communities will have the opportunity to choose the public school that best fits the educational needs of their children.”