We’re getting closer.

On Thursday – the 10th day of the legislative session – the State Senate approved 27-20 a bipartisan-sponsored bill to keep charter schools open in Washington.

The bill fixes the problems identified by the State Supreme Court in its ruling overturning the law by providing a new, separate funding source for them. Under the new law, charter schools would receive their funds from the Opportunity Pathways Account (which includes money from the state’s lottery system). In its ruling, the Court took issue with funding charter schools using the same source as traditional public schools.

During floor debate on the bill, legislators described moving testimonials they heard from students who love their charter schools and want them kept open. Others cited the significant academic progress students have already made at their new school, and how these schools give families options they wouldn’t otherwise have.

“I believe we have an obligation to the more than 1,200 children attending charter schools to allow them to stay at the schools they have come to depend on to meet their educational needs,” said Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah. “I fear that if we don’t do something to protect these charter schools they will become a private option only available to families who have money. By keeping these schools public, we can make sure that all children regardless of economic standing have a wide range of educational options.”

The bill now moves on to the House of Representatives for consideration there.

We remain optimistic that the legislature can continue its work to keep charter schools open in Washington, and we applaud the State Senate for taking on this important issue so quickly.