Washington voters approve charter schools initiative

Washington voters approve charter schools initiative
Election worker Richard Coit makes sure all ballots are removed from envelopes by looking thru the hole in the middle of the envelopes at the Whatcom County Auditor's office on Election Day, Nov. 6 , 2012, in Bellingham, Wash. (AP Photo/The Bellingham Herald, Philip A. Dwyer)

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington voters have narrowly approved an initiative that clears the way for up to 40 charter schools to be opened in the state over the next five years.

Initiative 1240 has clung to a narrow lead as more ballots have been counted following Tuesday's election.

This is the fourth time the proposal has been on the ballot in Washington state, where voters rejected charter schools in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

Supporters say the charter proposal would offer new choices for struggling kids and their families. Opponents say charters have a mixed track record in other states and they would take away money from regular public schools.

Proponents of charter schools raised more than $10 million to promote the idea, including $3 million from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.