TACOMA, Wash. -- Calyn Holdaway of Gig Harbor wants to open a charter school in Tacoma.

I recognize that there is a lot of opposition and I am not afraid of that. said Holdaway.

The military wife and mother of three was motivated after her eldest son, who has autism, faced challenges in one school district.

It just wasn t working out. They did not have the right programs for him, she said.

Her family moved to a new school district which helped her son, but hurt his siblings.

We lost services for my younger two children, said Holdaway.

She decided to turn her attention to the new charter school law voters passed in November. It allows up to 40 public charter schools over the course of five years. The publicly funded, privately run schools must be started by non-religious, non-profits.

Holdaway started a non-profit called the Ducere Group with the hope of opening Village Academy in Tacoma in 2014.

Our target will be non-traditional learners, she said.

The Tacoma School District is among a dozen Washington school districts that sent letters to the state Board of Education indicating intent to authorize charter schools starting in 2014. The other districts include Bellevue, Battle Ground, Eastmont, Highline, Kent, Naselle-Grays River Valley, Peninsula, Port Townsend, Sequim, Spokane and Sunnyside.

Just last week, Tacoma school board members discussed the possibility of becoming a charter authorizer, but voted against moving forward because they said they did not have enough information. The board said they planned to revisit the issue in the Fall. Even if districts choose not to become authorizers of charter schools, a state-appointed panel can still approve them.
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