Pride Prep Will Start Fall 2015, How It's Different From Other P - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Pride Prep Will Start Fall 2015, How It's Different From Other Public Schools

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Forty-one other states already have them, but this is a first for Washington. Spokane approved Pride Prep as the first charter school in the state.

"Even though we're sort of behind other states in approving charter schools, the advantage that we have is learning all of the mistakes that other states have made and all the great things that they've done and kind of taking the best of all those practices, so we just realize we have an amazing opportunity," said Jeannette Vaughn the Spokane Public Schools Director of Innovative Programs.

With six middle schools and eight high schools already in Spokane, what makes this charter school different?

"We require our students to have more credits for graduation and additional science credits and world language credits compared to Spokane public schools graduates," said Brenda McDonald, the founding leader of Pride Prep.

Along with requiring more credits to graduate, Pride Prep will also have more classroom time, which amounts to nearly an extra quarter per year compared to other public schools in the district.

"So, over the life of seven years, that's an additional year and three quarters of school, which is pretty significant," McDonald said.

According to McDonald, that is one of the reasons Pride Prep could help students that are failing in other schools.

"When you think about the potential charters have to really accelerate students and close some skill gaps, time is a huge part of why we're able to do that," McDonald said.

Anyone can attend Pride Prep and just like other public schools there is no entrance exam or tuition fees. However, Pride Prep hopes to focus on at risk students.

"We are really interested in trying to support our most underserved communities in Spokane and provide a different type of school experience, a smaller one," McDonald said.

However, not everyone thinks charter schools are a good idea.

"Why not put our resources into the schools that we already have, instead of a school that has no track record," said the Spokane Education Association's Jenny Rose. "We don't know how it will work out. We will be watching closely Pride Prep."

Rose says the new charter school will pull money from existing classrooms and programs because Pride Prep will be publicly funded when it opens.

"Our tax payers are going to be paying for all this, plus the students that they pull away the state money follows them into this charter school," Rose said.

Aside from funding, others worry these new schools could have other negative impacts.

"It might collapse a classroom and that teacher might lose a job or go to another school, so that ripple effect can occur," Rose said.

However, others say it could do the opposite.

"We really feel like developing this portfolio of options to include charter schools, will probably bring back families to our district that perhaps had been home schooled or perhaps in private schools or even from outlying districts," Vaughn said.

There is still a lot to be done before students can start enrolling in Pride Prep. McDonald says she is going to start fundraising money, so she can secure a location for the school and start hiring staff. It is going to be a lot of work, but it is something she is sure will pay off for her future students.

"I'm excited about diversity, every year will be different," McDonald said.

For students who attend Pride Prep, the school day will be from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., which is about two hours longer everyday. The school year will also be about ten days longer. Some other differences, the school hopes to focus more on math, science, and technology. The students will also do an internship in the community one week a quarter.

Right now, there is also a case going through the court system that questions the constitutionality of charter schools. Those against the law say charter schools should not be eligible to receive public funding. However, for now, no final decision has been reached.

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