BOSTON – Thursday, March 15, 2012 – The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that Massachusetts has been awarded a $12 million federal Charter Schools Program grant to expand the number of high-quality charter schools available to students across the Commonwealth.
The grant received by Massachusetts from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is for a total of $12,125,950 over the next three years. Massachusetts was one of three states out of 14 applicants to receive funding from the $54.8 million competitive award this year, along with New Jersey and Minnesota. New York and Florida were awarded federal Charter Schools Program grant funding in 2011.
“I want to thank Secretary Duncan and the Obama Administration for this tremendous support that will help us expand the number of high quality charter schools in Massachusetts,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “It was in a spirit of spurring innovation that we implemented the “smart cap” on charter schools two years ago and these funds will go a long way in helping us continue our efforts to ensure that every student has access to a world-class education.”
“We are proud of our high performing charter schools and eager to expand their success,” said Education Secretary Paul Reville. “We are extremely grateful for this support which will help us to reach more Massachusetts students with high quality learning opportunities.”
“There are many high-performing charter schools in Massachusetts, and our standards and the quality of our accountability system is second to none,” said Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. “Charter schools provide parents and students with an important public school option as they weigh which educational program is the best choice for them. This grant award reflects the excellence of our charter school program, and it will provide valuable funding to assist the start up of new charter schools.”
ED’s Charter Schools Program aims to increase financial support for the planning, design and implementation of charter schools, to build a better understanding of public charter schools and to increase the number of high-quality public charter schools across the nation. The Commonwealth’s $12 million grant will be awarded to new charter schools over the next three years, with priority given to schools focusing on increasing high school graduation and college enrollment rates among diverse student populations in high poverty areas.
In 2010, Governor Deval Patrick signed the historic Achievement Gap Act which included a “smart cap” on charter schools across the state, allowing the best performing charters to replicate in the regions with the most student need. The cap on district net school spending for funding of charter schools will be raised from 9 percent to a maximum of 18 percent through incremental steps. The cap lift only applies to districts with academic performance in the lowest 10 percent as measured by MCAS, and applicants under the cap lift must have a proven track record of success in increasing academic attainment and commit to working with a diverse population of students. Sixteen charter schools were approved last year after the cap was raised, and another four were approved last month, bringing the total number of charter schools across the state to 81.
In addition to this $12 million award and because of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s continued commitment to innovation in education, the Commonwealth has been awarded $300 million in federal Race to the Top (RTTT) funding within the past two years. In August 2010, Massachusetts was awarded $250 million from the U.S. Department of Education, receiving the highest score of any applicant in the national K-12 RTTT competition. Massachusetts will receive this funding over four years, through academic year 2013-2014, to bolster the Administration’s efforts to increase educator effectiveness, turn around underperforming schools and provide educators with the tools they need to ensure that all students are prepared for college and career. In December 2011, Massachusetts was awarded $50 million in the RTTT – Early Learning Challenge to expand high quality early education services and close achievement gaps in education. This continued federal support is vital to achieving the Administration’s goal of ensuring that every student in Massachusetts is prepared for success in the classroom and beyond.