Five Idaho charters to each receive $800,000

Five Idaho charter schools will each receive $800,000 in federal grant funding next school year.

The money is part of a $17.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant aimed at growing and expanding Idaho charters.

This year’s award recipients are:

Statewide charter school support group Bluum received the $17.1 million federal grant in November. Bluum is responsible for allocating the grant and is joined in a “Communities of Excellence” consortium by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, the State Board of Education, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation and the nonprofit charter facilities finance group Building Hope.

The consortium has pledged to add 8,200 new charter school seats in Idaho over the next five years. This year’s $4 million in grants will support the schools adding 2,484 new seats, Bluum said in a statement Friday.

Eight schools competed for the first round of funding. Winners were selected through a third-party review process of several criteria:

  • Instructional leadership.
  • School governance.
  • Sustainable financial practices.
  • Demonstrable market demand.
  • An innovative and effective educational model.

Evaluators also selected winners based on their commitment to “seek out and welcome children of all ethnic, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds,” Bluum said.

Winning narratives and scoring rubrics can be viewed here.

“Over the next five years we hope to see positive impacts among charters for some of our most disadvantaged and rural students,” said Bluum CEO Terry Ryan. “The grant supports transportation and lunch programs to help charter schools remove these barriers to school access.”

Dollars from the $17.1 million grant are also available to public school districts interested in “converting and redesigning struggling traditional schools that may operate in their communities,” Bluum said.

Additional funding rounds of similar dollar amounts are scheduled for October 2019, October 2020 and October 2021.

Idaho’s first charter school opened in 1998, with some 170 students. Today, the state has more than 55 public charter schools, with enrollment exceeding 24,000 students, or 9 percent of the public school population.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News and Bluum are funded on grants from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.

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