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Charter schools seek a lifeline from Legislature after state Supreme Court decision

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OLYMPIA, Wash. -- There was a big legislative hearing Tuesday in Olympia over how to save the state’s charter schools.

Last fall, the state Supreme Court cut their funding, declaring them unconstitutional for taking money from regular public schools.  The high court left the state’s nine charter schools struggling for survival.

On Tuesday, a number of charter students showed up to plead that their schools stay open.

“We’re learning skills that most traditional public schools struggle to teach us,” said Tatiana Cueva, who attends Summit Olympia Charter School.

Since the voters approved charter schools in 2012, more than 1,300 students have enrolled, many of whom are low-income and minority.  Ever since they were put in jeopardy by the state Supreme Court, they have been looking for a lifeline.

The most popular solution being tossed around in Olympia would be to bring charter schools under the control of local schools boards.  Those would lose some of their independence but would still operate separately and still get state funding.

Charter school opponents also showed up Tuesday as well.  They argued that the state should focus on the McCleary mandate to fully fund regular public schools.

“Charters have now existed for 25 years, and in that quarter century they have proved to be no better than public schools,” said Steve Nesich, a public school parent.