ED’s Office of Innovation and Improvement administers two charter school facilities grant programs—the Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program and the State Charter School Facilities Incentive Grants Program. Created under Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, the Charter Schools Program (CSP) is a major component of ESSA’s Title IV, 21st Century Schools.
Between 2010 and 2013, Congress operated ED under a continuing funding resolution. The legislative language guiding the two facilities programs remained unchanged until FY2012, when Congress directed that the secretary of education fund the facilities programs at “not less” than $23 million as opposed to “up to” $23 million. The FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act funded the Credit Enhancement Program and the State Incentive Grants Program at $12 million and $11 million, respectively. The bill also included new language to allow ED to support preschool education in charter schools through CSP. Recognizing its effectiveness, Congress funded the Credit Enhancement Program at not less than $13 million in 2015 (ED, using its discretion, actually awarded $14.1 million) and $16 million in both 2016 and 2017. Between 2015 and 2017, the State Incentives Grants Program funding did not exceed $10 million, and those awards supported continuation grants. ED has some discretion over actual funding levels.
Since 2008 both facilities grant programs have been funded by Congress under the general CSP. The majority of funding from CSP is made as start-up grants to new charter schools through state education agencies (SEAs) and directly to new charter schools in states where an SEA does not have an award (collectively, start-up grants). In 2010 Congress added two programs that are funded out of the CSP appropriation: the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools program, which makes multiple awards to nonprofit charter management organizations (CMOs) and other nonprofit entities to expand or replicate successful charter school models; and the National Leadership Activities program to develop a sound support infrastructure for high-quality charter schools, including grants for the provision of technical assistance to public chartering agencies. Per the discretion of the secretary and under the authority of the National Activities section of CSP, Charter School Program Exemplary Collaboration grants were awarded for the first time in 2012 to support collaborations between charter schools and traditional public schools and public school districts; however, grant awards were not funded after 2012.
The Credit Enhancement Program was funded via a separate line item in the federal budget before FY2008. Historical federal appropriations and funding over the last 12 years for the five charter school programs is summarized in the downloadable spreadsheet below.
This federal program provides grant funds on a competitive basis to public and nonprofit entities to develop innovative credit enhancement models that assist charter schools in leveraging capital from the private sector.
This federal program provides federal funds on a declining matching basis to select states with per pupil facilities aid programs for charter schools.