Magendanz’s Charter School Bill passes the House

The Charter School Bill passed the House today with a vote of 58-39. The proposal is in response to the State Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a citizen’s initiative that created charter schools. The court determined that charters were not common schools and could not be funded in the same way as common schools. Senate Bill 6194 would keep charter schools open, free to the public, and operating separately from the common school system. Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah, sponsored the companion House Bill 2367.

“The progress being made by the 1,300 students in charter schools cannot be overlooked,” said Magendanz, R-Issaquah. “Charter schools drive innovation. They’re less restricted by collective bargaining agreements, and by burdensome state regulations. They’re more accountable than regular schools, because if they don’t produce results, they’re gone. This forces charter educators to think outside the box.”

In 2015, the Washington Supreme Court struck down the 2012 voter-approved law that created the charter school system. The court’s 6-3 ruling wasn’t about the advantages of charter schools but focused on whether they were eligible for funding in the same way common schools are funded. Charter schools are similar to the 81 schools OSPI has unaffiliated with any school district – like juvenile detention centers, schools for the deaf, schools for the blind, and skill centers, which are funded by the general fund. Common school funds are part of the general fund, the state’s main checking account. By placing these protected funds into the general fund, the court determined that all the money in the account was corrupted.

Magendanz’s proposal re-establishes charter schools and the Washington State Charter School Commission as an independent state agency. Funding for the schools would be through the Opportunity Pathways account, a constitutionally unrestricted funding source of lottery revenue. This account currently funds other education programs like the state’s preschool program and Washington state work study.

“These innovative schools allow many otherwise disadvantaged students to get a quality education. Students who may have struggled in a rigid public school system are given the opportunity to be successful with new styles of teaching and encouragement,” continued Magendanz.

Charter schools currently serve more than 1300 students and their families in Washington state. Senate Bill 6194 passed the Senate with a vote of 27-20. When the Senate concurs with the version that passed the House, the bill will head to the governor’s desk for signature.

Upload Flicker PhotosRep. Chad Magendanz speaks on the House floor. 

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