North Carolina Wins $23.6 Million Federal Grant to Expand Charter Schools

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The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools will receive $23.6 million over five years to help the state’s charter schools meet the needs of economically disadvantaged students. North Carolina is one of eight states to receive the Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter School Program grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

The funding, which totals $10.4 million for the federal fiscal year that began Monday, will be used for sub-grants to new and existing charter schools to:

  • Assist new charter schools that will serve a large economically disadvantaged student population in their planning year
  • Assist charter schools in their first three years of operation that serve a large, economically disadvantaged student population
  • Assist high-quality charter schools that serve a large economically disadvantaged population and want to replicate
  • Assist high-quality charter schools that want to expand to serve a larger economically disadvantaged population

“North Carolina’s charter schools should be laboratories of innovation, proving grounds for ideas that can be scaled across all our schools and all student populations,” said State Superintendent Mark Johnson. “This funding will allow schools to better serve our students in the most need and increase the diversity of students served by charter schools.”

North Carolina has 185 operating charter schools this school year, and eight more schools plan to open next year. Charter schools are governed by a nonprofit board and must accept all eligible students who apply, holding a lottery for seats if the school is oversubscribed.

“I am excited that North Carolina was awarded this highly competitive grant from the Department of Education,” said Dave Machado, head of the state Office of Charter Schools. “This grant will help us promote high-quality schools and open more schools in the underserved rural areas of North Carolina.”

The Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter School Program grants, called CSP grants by the federal agency, are in their second year under the Every Student Succeeds Act. CSP grants have been awarded to aid charter schools since the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, but the focus has changed under ESSA, with different eligibility requirements, priorities, definitions, application requirements, and selection criteria.

The application deadline for charter school boards interested in applying will be early spring, with grants to be awarded by the end of the school year. The State Board of Education will approve the grants based on recommendations from the Charter School Advisory Board.

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