Wednesday, December 9, 2009

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Hails Appropriations Conference Agreement

/PRNewswire/ -- National Alliance for Public Charter Schools President and CEO Nelson Smith issued the following statement on the Senate-House Conference agreement approved last night that will fund the U.S. Department of Education and the federal charter school programs for Fiscal Year 2010:

"The Conference Report agreed upon last night includes a $40 million increase over the current fiscal year funding for the federal charter school programs and marks a significant down-payment on President Obama's promise to double federal charter support during his term. It also includes significant innovations sought by the Administration and the Alliance that will speed the deployment of our highest-performing models to communities that need them the most.

"For the first time the Secretary of Education will now be able to reserve a portion of Charter School Program (CSP) funding for direct grants that support the replication and expansion of successful charter school models. This authority will give new hope to students in need of better options by putting high-achieving new schools in their communities. At the same time, the appropriations will continue to support the creation of innovative new schools by providing ample start-up and implementation funding to be distributed through state education agencies.

"We applaud Congress and the Administration for insisting that states use these new funds not just to start more charter schools, but to create high-quality schools that have the freedom to operate and are held accountable for results. This is the approach strongly advocated by the National Alliance and charter leaders in the states. Chairman Obey, Chairman Inouye, Chairman Miller, Chairman Harkin, and the Administration have worked to include these quality assurances in the bill, and we appreciate their efforts. They have put the needs of students above all else in this appropriations process."

This year's Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill includes $256 million for the federal charter school programs, the highest amount ever appropriated and a $40 million increase over FY2009. The total includes $50 million that can be directly competed by the U.S. Department of Education to support the replication and expansion of successful charter models; over $23 million to support the Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program and the State Facilities Incentive Grants; and up to $10 million dollars to support National Activities grants to further develop a sound infrastructure of support for high quality charter schools.

Additionally, $10 million dollars was included in the U.S. Department of Education FY2010 appropriation to support planning grants for the Administration's Promise Neighborhoods Initiative, a new program (in collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative) inspired by the Harlem Children's Zone. The Conference agreement also includes $400 million dollars for the Teacher Incentive Fund, a $303 million increase from FY2009, providing strong new support for performance-based teacher compensation programs.

Congress must now approve this package and send it to the President for his signature before the current Continuing Resolution funding the U.S. Department of Education and other federal departments and agencies expires on December 18th.

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