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Interest in starting charter schools jumps

The state Department of Public Instruction received 161 letters of intent from people and organizations who want to open new charter schools in 2014. The letter is an indication that the writer intends to submit a charter application by the March 1 deadline.

Charter applications have increased since the legislature ended the 100-charter limit two years ago.

This summer, the Public Charter Schools Advisory Council considered 63 applications for new charters to open this fall, and 25 were approved.

The State Board of Education earlier approved nine charters under a "fast track" process, and some of those opened last fall.

The advisory committee is scheduled to make its recommendations to the State Board of Education on the 2014 charters in June, with the board giving final approval in December or January 2014.

Charter fast track starts this week

The gun on the "fast track"  charter school applications sounds tomorrow, when the new Public Charter School Advisory Council begins considering the 27 applications for schools that could open in Fall '12.

Council subcommittees plan to review the applications tomorrow and report the results of their reviews to the full committee Wednesday. The committee will decide which applicants to invite for January interviews before reporting its recommendations to the State Board of Education.

These schools are the first entries into the state's charter school applicant pool since the legislature decided this year to eliminate the 100-school charter cap. It's also one of the first tests of the advisory council and how it interacts with the state board.

No one knows how many people are planning to put in applications for the regular approval cycle for schools that would open in 2013.

But if the interest in the fast track is an indication, the state could see charter options expand significantly.

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