Loss of federal funds a strain
Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 10:34 pm
By: By The Associated Press
The Messenger 01.18.12
MEMPHIS (AP) — The loss of federal funds to help offset costs to start charter schools in Tennessee will cause a “significant strain,” according to officials.
Until this year, new charter schools could get between $600,000 and $700,000 in federal grants to help lease facilities and pay teachers for the first three years of operations.
The loss of that funding, due in part to the rapid increase of charter schools across the state, will have huge effects, said Robin Webb, principal at Freedom Prep in Memphis.
“It’s a significant strain to say the least,” she said. “We could not have started without the money. This is huge.”
Since the Tennessee legislature approved charter schools in 2002, 41 have opened across the state, including 25 in Memphis.
Former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton, who is working to open seven new charter schools, told The Commercial Appeal that it could lead to a delay in opening some of them (http://bit.ly/zXgGvp). He had hoped to open all seven in the fall of this year.
“In all candor, I was shocked to hear the new startups would not have necessary ingredients to launch new programs,” he said.
He said he hopes to get the funding he needs from philanthropic and corporate sources.
For years, Tennessee charter operators were given $225,000 to use the year before the school opened, then received $250,000 to cover operational costs before it began receiving state per-pupil tax money, said Rich Haglund, director of charter schools at the state Department of Education.
“If a school opened with 100 students, they would get one-tenth of their (Basic Education Program tax funds) that August. That is not going to pay their operational costs,” he said.
The next year, the school would get $125,000 to help cover costs while enrollment increased.
The money came from a $22 million federal grant awarded to the state in 2009 to help charter schools start up through 2012-13, but funds began running short last fall.
Haglund said applicants requesting funding were sent a memo saying awards would be given on a competitive basis.
He said there is little money left this year and doubted there would be any for next year.
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com