Five Idaho public charter schools have been awarded $800,000 each in federal funds in a first round of funding aimed at increasing the number of new, high-quality charter school seats for the Idaho students who need them most.
The grants will allow the five schools to add a total of 2,484 new seats in schools for students from kindergarten through high school. Funding comes from a $17.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant awarded last year to Idaho’s Communities of Excellence consortium.
Members of the consortium include project lead Bluum, a Boise-based statewide nonprofit charter school support entity; the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation; the Idaho State Board of Education; the Idaho Public Charter School Commission; and Building Hope, a national organization with expertise in charter school facilities financing.
The program aims to create new charter school seats for Idaho’s most educationally disadvantaged and rural students.
Schools receiving this first round of $800,000 grants are:
Compass Public Charter School, K-12, Meridian
Forge International School, K-5 (becoming K-12 by 2024), Middleton
Future Public School, K-3 (becoming K-8 by 2023), Garden City
Gem Prep: Meridian, K-6 (becoming K-12 by 2022), Meridian
White Pine Charter School, K-8 (becoming K-12 by 2022), Ammon
Winning narratives and scoring rubrics available here.
Eight schools competed for the grants, either for startup, expansion, or replication. Winners were selected through a rigorous third-party review process.
Schools selected to receive funds were evaluated on a number of criteria, including instructional leadership, governance, the ability to attract and retain talent, sustainable financial practices, demonstrable market demand, and an innovative and effective educational model.
Evaluators also selected winners based on their commitment to serving a diverse student body. Schools were required to provide evidence that they actively seek out and welcome children of all ethnic, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“Over the next five years we hope to see positive impacts among charters for some of our most disadvantaged and rural students. This is baked into the grant’s design. The grant supports transportation and lunch programs to help charter schools remove these barriers to school access,” says Terry Ryan, Bluum’s CEO.
These grant dollars are also available to public school districts interested in converting and redesigning struggling traditional schools that may operate in their communities.
Under the $17.1 million federal Charter School Program grant, the Communities of Excellence consortium has pledged to add 8,200 new, high-quality charter school seats over the next five years.
Additional competitive funding rounds of roughly the same dollar amount are scheduled for October 2019, October 2020 and October 2021.
Idaho’s charter sector has grown dramatically since the first charter school opened in the Gem State in 1998, serving 168 students. Today, Idaho is home to more than 55 public charter schools, with a total enrollment of more than 24,000 students.
For more information about the grant, visit www.bluum.org/idaho-csp-grant