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Communications Coordinator

No. 44, No. 65

August 24, 2010

Missouri Awarded Federal Grant to Ensure Charter School Quality

The U.S. Department of Education has announced Missouri will receive a $2.1 million grant to expand the number of high-quality charter schools in Kansas City and St. Louis over the next three years.

Missouri is one of 11 states and the District of Columbia to share in the $136.1 million allocation recently announced by the Charter School Programs section of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. Other states receiving grants are Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the federal government will invest more than $256 million this year to assist in planning and implementation for public charter schools and in dissemination of successful practices.

Over the next three years, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will administer the grant, which aims to accomplish three key objectives – support high-performing charter schools, improve student performance and enhance the accountability of sponsoring institutions.

“This grant will make a tremendous difference in our ability to assist charter schools in the planning and design of quality education programs,” said Margie Vandeven, assistant commissioner, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of Quality Schools.

The federal funds will be used to support competitive grants to a minimum of 18 schools for planning, program design and implementation; at least six schools will be targeted for assistance each year.  Charter school applicants that have received approval from sponsoring institutions but have not yet opened will be eligible to apply.

Vandeven said the state’s department of education will be looking for applicants that demonstrate potential to be high performing. The planning grants will allow a charter school to hire an administrator to work on professional development and curriculum alignment, develop an evaluation model for staff, and conduct all other planning required for a successful program.

Charter schools are public schools, but are exempt from many statutory and regulatory requirements.  Currently, more than 18,000 students are enrolled in the state’s 36 charter schools, which operate a total of 51 campuses in the Kansas City and St. Louis school districts.

The state’s department of education will partner with the Missouri Charter Public School Association and other organizations to deliver training and technical assistance, share successful practices with all public charter schools, and provide information to teachers, parents and communities.

Requests for subgrants will be announced beginning this fall.