The Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement recently announced grant awards totaling nearly $400 million to help bolster the charter school sector through their Charter School Program (CSP). Only 51 total awards were given through the very competitive federal grant program, including three to PIE Network members: Bluum, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS). The CSP funds grants to states, charter management organizations, and other charter-related entities for the start-up, replication, and expansion of high-quality charter schools, including funding for facilities.
Bluum, a non-profit charter school support group based in Boise, Idaho, along with other in-state partners, has created a Communities of Excellence Program that seeks to lead the expansion of high-quality charters across the state. They are hoping to expand the number of seats to 8,200 students, support best practices for authorizers, and research and disseminate the successes and lessons learned from the charter sector in order to impact the broader education system.
NACSA, along with other national partners, proposed to widely and actively improve the quality of charter school authorizing through a program called the Strengthening Charter Authorizing Nationally (SCAN) Project. This project will aid authorizers across all types and sizes in every state with charter schools, aiming to develop, identify, and expand best practices through four key initiatives:
- Promoting and monitoring the compliance of charter schools;
- Facilitating replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools;
- Closing persistently underperforming charter schools; and
- Building capacity of authorizers with the most need.
NAPCS will establish the Charter School Facility Center (CSFC), a first-of-its-kind entity solely dedicated to helping charter schools access better and less expensive facilities and facility financing. The CSFC will aim to capture and disseminate existing best practices for locating, improving, and funding facilities for charter schools, and develop new, innovative solutions that can be used across the nation. Network member Tennessee Charter School Center (TCSC) will also partner in this work, supporting local capacity building through technical assistance.
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