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Sunnyside charter school info presented to council

Sunnyside residents Brittany Weaver and Erin Martin presented a slideshow about charter schools to the Sunnyside City Council Monday night.

The two are representatives of Charter Schools of Sunnyside, an organization that hopes to open the Sunnyside Charter Academy in the fall of 2015 to serve at-risk students.

In strictly an informational presentation, as city council approval is not needed, Weaver and Martin said charter schools are free public schools open to all students but governed by a non-profit organization instead of a school board. Charter schools are funded like public schools, based on attendance, through public taxes.

Charter Schools of Sunnyside has until Friday, Nov. 22, to submit an application to the state charter school commission to run a charter school in Sunnyside. The organization has already filed a letter of intent.

The plans for the charter school include using a blended learning program with a heavy emphasis on parent involvement to create a K-8 program in the city.

If the program is approved, it will start as a K-5 school in 2015 and add a grade each year until it is a K-8 program. Students graduating from the academy would likely attend Sunnyside High School.

Weaver said the goal is to make strong connections with the local school district while offering a different type of program for students with special needs.

Councilman Dean Broersma asked where the classes would be held. Weaver explained that the organization is looking at several sites. The school would most likely use modular offices for the first few years.

Mayor Jim Restucci asked who controls the charter school curriculum. Weaver said the school will function independently from the Sunnyside School District and the principal and teachers will make decisions on the curriculum.

Restucci also asked if the school would fall under the auspices of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Weaver said the charter school would be getting funding through OSPI and must show its progress to OSPI to continue getting funding.

Weaver also noted that if more students want to attend the charter school than there are available seats, a public lottery will be held to determine which students get into the school.

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