Whenever a federal announcement capitalizes 19 out of 32 words (including prepositions and conjunctions) you can bet it is important. It can also require translation. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced the publication of its “Notice of Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and Selection Criteria (NPP) for the Charter Schools Program (CSP) Grants to State educational agencies (SEA).” The CSP grant for SEAs is the primary source of funding for States that award start-up grants to new charter schools.
Here’s what this means:
- The feds released draft materials that outline how they plan to evaluate applications and award the grants they give to states under the CSP.
- After a comment period (going on NOW), the feds will finalize priorities, requirements, and definitions and release a final Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards—this will likely incorporate some of the material in this current notice.
- Many states will decide to compete for this program. States that have programs and policies that best match the new priorities will have a slight advantage in the upcoming competition in 2015. State applications will also be scored in some manner based on the plan the State puts forward to carry-out certain activities reflected in the proposed selection criteria.
- If a state receives a grant, the new provisions may place a few new requirements on these states regarding charter school oversight, as well as on what states, authorizers, and schools do to ensure that students with disabilities’ have access to charters and are well served when they enroll.
NACSA’s preliminary analysis indicates that several of the new provisions will support and incentivize state action to strengthen accountability in the charter school sector, but, of course, there are also details that should be changed.
This announcement is important to our members for two main reasons:
- Your state may be interested in applying for a CSP grant, and this is a great time to start planning. Once the feds receive input on the draft materials, they will release final materials and run a grant competition in late winter or early spring of 2015.
- You can have input on the priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for the CSP grants to SEAs. The public has until January 5th, 2015 to submit written comments. NACSA will provide input on the draft materials, and we are reaching out for input from the field. Please contact Whitney Spalding Spencer (whitneys[@]qualitycharters.org) if you have comments or just want to stay in the loop on the process.
If you’re interested in the CSP SEA grant competition, be on the lookout for more info from NACSA or reach out to Whitney Spalding Spencer to share your thoughts and get more info.