Dylan Scott is a GOVERNING staff writer.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the chief challenges for charter schools is securing a quality facility. The U.S. Education Department handed out $11 million last week to make that process a little bit easier.
It was part of the Credit Enhancement for Charter Schools Facilities Program, the department said in an announcement. The money is intended to help charter schools in constructing or renovating their buildings, obtaining leases for property and solidifying their financial standing in order to receive a lease.
The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, a quasi-public office, received nearly $2.7 million. The agency plans to use the money to secure bonds and loans for charter schools looking to improve their facilities. Two other recipients are non-profit organizations that work on behalf of charter schools nationwide.
As Governing has previously reported, vacated public school buildings -- often the victims of state and local budget crises -- have been popular targets for charter schools, particularly in cities like Kansas City, Mo., and Tulsa, Okla., which have launched districtwide initiatives to make use of their empty facilities. Both have sold unused buildings to charter schools, but there is some haggling involved.
"We're not giving them away," Chris Payne of Tulsa Public Schools told Governing at the time.
Presumably, the Credit Enhancement program would ease that process for both sides.
“Adequate facilities are essential for providing a high-quality education and a safe learning environment,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. “The Credit Enhancement program supports charter schools and gives them more financial security – ultimately helping schools to attain facilities where they can engage students in learning.”