- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - The statewide Charter School Commission on Thursday approved two new charter schools to open in Walla Walla and West Seattle in fall 2016.

Willow Public School will be the first charter school in southeast Washington. It will be a middle school focused on project-based learning.

The West Seattle school will be the third location for the Summit charter management organization in Washington state. The company also operates schools in California. The West Seattle campus will start with sixth- and ninth-grade classes and grow into a 6-12-grade school.

In 2012, Washington voters approved the idea of having 40 charter schools in the state. With Thursday’s decision, Washington is set to have 12 of the independent public schools in operation by fall 2016. One opened last year, eight more open this fall and three more next year.

Two of the schools opening this fall were authorized by the Spokane School District. The district has not approved the applications of any more schools since its first round.

The two schools approved at the statewide commission’s meeting on Thursday were the only two to apply for a charter this year.

Commission Chair Steve Sundquist praised the schools’ applications, saying they both show strong educational models, a commitment to engaging their communities and sound organizational structures.

The new schools opening this fall include a middle school in Kent, a high school in Seattle’s International District, a middle school in Highline, an elementary and a combined middle and high school in Spokane, a K-8, a middle school and a high school in Tacoma.

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