Spokane district approves 2nd charter school

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Washington state's ninth public charter school will begin enrolling students next week for the fall of 2015, after the school won approval Wednesday night from the Spokane Public Schools Board.

The Spokane International Academy, a K-8 charter school, plans to open with about 160 students in the former St. Patrick's Catholic School building. It will initially enroll students in kindergarten as well as first and sixth grades, and add more grades each year, said Travis Franklin, the school's leader.

The academy is the second to be authorized by Spokane Public Schools board, which can approve its own public charter schools. Other applications go through the statewide Charter School Commission.

In January, the Spokane district approved the first entirely new charter school in Washington, Pride Prep, which also plans to open in the fall of next year, educating students in sixth through 12th grades.

Washington voters approved a charter-school measure in 2012 that allows up to 40 independent public schools to open over five years.

"When the law passed, it seemed like a great opportunity to find other people in the area who were interested in an international-style education and put together a school that serves ... a traditionally underserved population," said Travis Franklin, who has been teaching for eight years and left his job at Mead School District north of Spokane to start the academy.

The school will teach a second language in addition to English and partner with community organizations to give students service opportunities. At the end of eighth grade, students will be taken on a teacher-led educational excursion.

Franklin said he's already heard from dozens of families who are interested in enrolling their children and many teachers who want to join.

"It really gets me excited because you have this true international sharing of culture and ideas, and that's going to enrich our school," Franklin said. He wants to create a school environment that embraces what students from different cultures bring to the classroom, he said.

The statewide commission approved seven applications in January. One of those, First Place, a private school in Seattle, reopened this month as a charter school.

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