Voters likely to decide on charter schools this fall

Voters likely to decide on charter schools this fall
In this photo taken May 7, 2012, students in a charter school kindergarten classroom at North Valley Academy in Gooding, Idaho wear red, white and blue shirts as part of their school uniform. (AP Photo/Jessie L. Bonner)

SEATTLE -- Washington voters will likely get another chance to decide whether charter schools are worth trying in this state.

The Washington Secretary of State's office confirms to KOMO News that backers of Initiative 1240 have made an appointment to turn in petitions Friday morning with the hope of qualifying the initiative for the November ballot.

"Groups don't usually make appointments unless they believe they have enough signatures to qualify," said Brian Zylstra Deputy in the Secretary of State's office.

Initiative supporters confirmed to KOMO News they believe they have 'more than enough' signatures to qualify for the ballot.

I-1240 would allow up to 40 public charter schools in this state over a five-year period.  Supporters say each school would be subject to oversight and an annual performance review to measure student achievement.  At the end of the five years I-1240 calls for an evaluation to decide whether more charter schools would be allowed.

Washington voters have rejected charter school initiatives three times before.  But several big name donors have stepped up to fund this particular effort.  Bill Gates has donated more than $1-million, Paul Allen has given $100,000 and the parents of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have given nearly $500,000.

Once signatures are submitted to the Washington Secretary of state officials will randomly spot check those signatures to determine whether enough of them are valid to qualify I-1240 for the ballot.

Opponents in Washington have long argued charter schools would drain money from needy public schools and should be rejected. 

Charter schools exist in 41 other states.