Tennessee Department of Education Awards Charter School Expansion Grants

Photo: Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner

Photo Credit: Tennessee Department of Education / Facebook

Published May 10, 2021

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

On Friday, May 15, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the fifteen applicants that would be receiving Charter School Expansion Grants. These subgrants are to be used to fund the sponsors through the planning, design, application, and even launch of new charter schools in Tennessee.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

Up to 8,800 seats will be available at these charter schools. Pending approval, the seats will be open to students in five districts that have no charter schools, as well as three that already have some.

The grants, which equal $6.3 million, have mostly come from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. This is the second GEER created to support charter schools. Additional funding comes from the Charter School Program grant.

“Governor Bill Lee has made providing high-quality school options for all Tennessee families a top priority,” Penny Schwinn, TDOE Commissioner, said. “With the goal of helping ensure students throughout the state are provided a high-quality education, this expansion of charter school supports will help give Tennessee families and students additional school options.”

Brian Kelsey, the Senate Education Chairman, also showed support for the charter school subgrants.

Kelsey said, “All Tennessee students, regardless of where they live, have the right to a quality education that will prepare them for college and their careers. These critical investments in high-quality public charter schools will give more parents an opportunity to access an education that is best suited to their child’s needs, helping them to reach their full potential. I congratulate these successful applicants and look forward to seeing great schools with the highest standards of excellence.”

The review process for the 2022-2023 school year is still underway. Any funds awarded will be contingent on final approval of the charter school by the district, or Tennessee Public Charter School Commission.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced the first round of funding for the charter school grants at the end of 2020, as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lee said that the charter school sector, “provides many families across the state with the opportunity to make the best choice for their child’s education—an opportunity they would not otherwise have.”

“This grant will help to ensure Tennesseans continue to have access to high-quality school options by supporting schools that have demonstrated strong student growth. As our state continues to navigate challenges to our education system presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made millions of dollars in grant money and protective resources available to districts and schools, and this is one more way we can support schools in serving students through this time,” Lee said.

Schwinn said, “This Charter School Support Grant is an important measure to support our strong public charter school sector and ensure families continue to have access to high-quality school options.”

The fifteen applicants include Academy of the Arts Charter High School in Fayette County, Aventura Community Schools in Nashville, Foundations Autism Charter School in Williamson County, and Grizzlies Preparatory Girls School in Shelby County. Capital City Academy, Nashville Classical II, and Tennessee Nature Academy, all in Nashville, are also on the list of applicants.

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