Created under section 5205(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, this federal program provides federal funds on a declining matching basis to select states that have per-pupil facilities aid programs for charter schools. The federal incentive program is designed to encourage states to develop and expand per-pupil facilities aid programs and to share in the costs associated with charter school facilities funding. To be eligible, a state’s program must be specified in state law and provide annual funding on a per-pupil basis for charter school facilities.
The U.S. Department of Education provides grants with a maximum term of five years, and the maximum federal share of the cost of establishing or expanding as well as administering the state program decreases each year as follows:
States may reserve up to 5% of grant funds for administrative expenses, including indirect costs, to carry out evaluations, provide technical assistance, and disseminate information. Priority is given to states that: 1) have charter authorizers that conduct a periodic review and evaluation of charter schools at least once every five years; 2) demonstrate progress in increasing the number of high-quality charter schools; 3) provide for a charter authorizer that is not a local educational agency (LEA) or, if LEAs are the only authorized public chartering agencies, allow for an appeals process; and 3) ensure that charter schools have a high degree of autonomy in determining their budgets and expenditures. In addition, states receive priority based on the capacity of charter schools to offer public school choice to communities most in need of educational options with the following factors considered: 1) the extent to which the applicant would target services to geographic areas in which a large proportion or number of public schools have been identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under Title I of ESEA, as amended; 2) the extent to which the applicant would target services to geographic areas in which a large proportion of students perform poorly on state academic assessments; and 3) the extent to which the applicant would target services to communities with large proportions of low-income students.
Most recently, in FY2014, the program awarded $10 million in first-year funding to California. Ongoing annual awards in the same amount will be made to California until FY2018, totaling $50 million over the five years. The program has provided a total of $190.5 million in awards.