Jun 23, 2016

Applications Released for School Improvement Grants and Charter Schools Program Grants

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today announced the release of applications for School Improvement Grants (SIG) and Charter Schools Program Grants (CSP). In 2016, the Department will award more than $17.5 million in federal School Improvement Grants to local school systems to support the turnaround of their lowest-performing schools. Additionally, Louisiana received an $8 million federal Charter Schools Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education, to be used over three years, to support the expansion of parent choice and increased access to high-quality educational opportunities.

Since 2012, Louisiana has made substantial progress in turning around its lowest-performing schools and creating new options for families and students. In that time, the number of failing, non-alternative schools has dropped by nearly half, resulting in 24,000 fewer students attending “F” rated schools. Likewise, more than 50,000 fewer students now attend “D” and “F” rated schools than in 2012.

“Louisiana Believes is predicated on the notion of a great school for every student,” said State Superintendent John White. “Every family has the civil right to be provided options and to have a state committed to transforming the situation when schools are struggling. No family should have to wait for progress in order to get what they want for their child’s education.”

School Improvement Grants (SIG)

In 2016, BESE will award more than $17.5 million in School Improvement Grants to school systems. All current priority and focus schools are eligible to receive either a new award or continuation award. A priority school is a school under the jurisdiction of the Recovery School District (RSD). A focus school is any school that in the past two years has either received an “F” letter grade or a graduation rate of less than 60 percent.

Since 2010, the Department has provided Local Education Agencies the opportunity to apply for federal School Improvement Grants to support the turnaround of their lowest-performing schools through strategies such as:

  • restructuring a low-performing school in partnership with a support organization;
  • making substantial investments in attracting, developing, and retaining high-quality school leaders and educators – such as research-based solutions like The System for Teacher and Student Advancement (TAP) and models expanding student access to the career training and early college access; and
  • replacing persistently struggling schools with a new vision or new school models.

To determine SIG awardees, the Department of Education first scores and ranks all applications, prioritizing funding to school systems, including charter schools, with high-ranked plans for improvement. During the application process, the Department will provide intensive support and feedback to applicants prior to the application deadline in order to help eligible LEAs submit bold, actionable, and strategic intervention plans.

Applications for School Improvement Grants are due by Monday, July 18, 2016, at 3 p.m. BESE may make School Improvement Grant allocations as early as its August board meeting.

To access the applications for “new” and “continuation” awards, please click here.

Charter Schools Program Grants (CSP)

In Louisiana, charter schools serve nearly 75,000 students – or more than 10 percent of the public school population – and there is parent demand for the number to grow. This demand is evidenced by a recently released survey conducted by LSU which reveals that 68 percent of people in the state favor more charter schools for Louisiana students. Louisiana received an $8 million federal grant, to be used over 3 years, for this purpose. Grant funding will be used to:

  • support the launch of 30 new, high-quality charter schools over a three-year period, providing access to start-up funding;
  • fund existing high-quality charter schools to share best practices for serving educationally-disadvantaged students; and
  • train districts wanting to authorize charter schools to do so through a high-quality process.

Through this first cycle, BESE will award grant allocations of up to $275,000 each to newly-authorized charter schools in either the pre-opening period or during their first semester of operation. An additional three award cycles will be conducted over the three-year period of the grant.

To be eligible for a Charter Schools Program grant, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  1. A high-quality and detailed start-up plan including how funds will be used to support these activities.
  2. Information demonstrating the charter school conducts equitable admissions and enrollment policies, and will meet legally-required at-risk percentages.
  3. For Type 1 and Type 3 charter schools only – evidence of the district authorizer’s effectiveness, including the applicant’s approved charter application, the district’s pre-opening checklist, oversight policies, oversight framework, and charter contract.

Applications for Charter Schools Program Grants are due by July 6, 2016. BESE is expected to make Charter Schools Program grant awards as early as August 9.

To access the Charter Schools Program Grant webpage, please click here.

# # # # # #