"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

$50 Million for CMOs

The Office of Innovation and Improvement (i3) recently announced $50 million in competitive funding for non-profit charter management organizations (CMOs).

A few interesting tidbits:

1. Only non-profit CMOs are eligible. That would exempt Imagine (although they still claim to be a nonprofit), White Hat, etc.

2. Even if Imagine claims to be a non-profit, they might be exempt because the program specifies the CMO must not have "significant issues in the areas of student safety, financial management, or statutory or regulatory compliance. For purposes of this competition, significant issue means something that did, will, or could lead to the revocation of a school's charter."

3. The applications will be awarded up to 50 points with an additional 30 bonus points possible. CMOs can earn 10 bonus points for partnering with outside funders, including philanthropic organizations. Added funds (which must be equal to or greater than 25 of the grant award) will give applicants a "competitive preference priority".

4. The grant outlines performance measures as:
  1. Number of charter schools in operation around the Nation
  2. The percentage of fourth- and eight-grade charter school students who are achieving at or above the proficient level on State examinations in math and reading/language arts
  3. As a measure of efficiency, the Secretary will use Federal cost per student in implementing a successful school (defined as a school in operation for three or more consecutive years)
5. Unlike many other programs, the Secretary will not be taking public comment on the priorities, selection criteria, requirements, and definitions. This program is exempt from the public comment requirement because it is the first charter replication grant.

6. The Charter Schools Program budget has a $256,031,000 budget for FY 2010. This grant uses $50 million of those funds.

7. An estimated 5-8 grants will be awarded, with a range of $1 million to $15 million.

8. CMOs can also receive preferences for competitive preference priorities, including working with LEAs "in implementing academic or structural interventions to serve students attending schools that have been identified for improvement, corrective action, closure, or restructuring under section 1116 of ESEA..."

9. Keep in mind this grant is awarded through the Office of Innovation and Improvement, which is headed by former Gates employee Jim Shelton.

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