YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) -- -

The State Board of Education has taken another step toward bringing charter schools to Washington State.

On Wednesday in Yakima, the board unanimously approved the Spokane School District's bid to become the state's first charter school authorizer, in addition to the statewide charter commission.

Charter schools are public schools run by non-profit organizations, but they receive state funding and are held to the same academic standards as regular schools.

As a charter school authorizer, Spokane Public Schools will review, approve or reject applications from groups that want to open charter schools. Spokane has expressed interest in creating a portfolio of choices for students in Spokane, including charter schools.

The school district can only approve school applications within district boundaries.

The Washington Charter School Commission can approve charter schools anywhere in the state.

Groups have until November 22nd to submit applications in the Spokane district.

The first charter schools could be open by next fall.

Are you excited about the prospect of enrolling your child in a new charter school?