COLUMBIA, S.C. — The U.S. Department of Education’s Charter School Programs (CSP) has granted the South Carolina Department of Education $31.5 million to expand public charter schools and open new ones across the state, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced Wednesday. The money will be spent over the next five years.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of allowing parents to choose the educational model that is best for their child,” State Superintendent of Education Spearman said. “Receiving this grant will allow us to continue to strengthen our public education system by providing our existing charter schools with the support they need to grow and thrive as well as funding to open new charters throughout the state. Ultimately, this grant will help ensure that every parent has high quality public school options across our state that meet the needs of every child.”
According to the announcement, the CSP grants to State Entities (SE) is a competitive grant program that enables SEs to award subgrants to eligible applicants in their state. The funding is specifically targeted to provide support to the opening of new charter schools, to provide technical assistance to eligible applicants and authorized public chartering agencies, and to work with authorized public chartering agencies to develop their capacity and improve authorizing quality. This year, eight SE grants have been awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, for a total of $68 million dollars in year one funding.
“Ten years ago, South Carolina made history when it was awarded their first grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program,” said Carol Aust, Executive Director of the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina. “Today marks yet another historical day for students and families across our beautiful state. We have seen the tremendous impact school choice has on communities. This grant will certainly be a difference maker as our charter schools continue to offer a first-class education to thousands of children.”
The state’s grant project, South Carolina Quality Charter Schools (SCQCS), strives to increase charter school options in South Carolina, particularly for educationally disadvantaged students, to increase the adoption of best practices by charter leaders and authorizers, and to invest in promising practices that increase public awareness and improve perception of charter schools in South Carolina.
The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) will use the grant funding to continue strengthening the state’s existing system of support for public charter schools. The SCDE will collaborate with the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina (PCSASC) to provide critical incubator support services for initial development groups and newly approved charter schools. In addition, this partnership will provide for the implementation of a robust system of technical assistance for existing charter schools, sponsors, and other South Carolina charter stakeholders.
SCQCS will serve the state’s existing 90 charter schools and their over 43,000 students, as well as an additional 32 new charter schools to be formed and awarded subgrants through the project. The project also will serve all the charter school authorizers, including their staffs and boards, plus any new authorizers that come into existence during the next five years.