Governor Bill Lee announced Wednesday a $5 million grant for charter schools that had exhibited academic growth. The governor’s Emergency Relief Fund (GEER) will source the funds.
These grants will be referred to as “Charter School Support Grants.” Lee’s decision marked the first grant for charter schools during COVID-19.
Charter schools will be awarded $2.5 million based on this year’s student enrollment. Significant academic growth as measured by the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) will determine where the remaining $2.5 million should go.
Throughout the pandemic, Lee has also awarded $61 million to K-12 schools. These funds sourced $11 million for reopening efforts, and $50 million for educational technology.
In August, reports and national surveys indicated that charter schools were offering better education than public schools. The numbers also reflected parents’ satisfaction with instruction in charter versus public schools. Those with children in charter schools were nearly doubly satisfied with their educational experience during the shutdowns than their public school peers.
However, the Metro Nashville School Board hasn’t moved to expand charter schooling. In April, they denied five charter school applications. In their decision, the board cited concerns with their budget and the quality of the applicant schools. The impact of pandemic shutdowns and the tornado incentivized the board’s majority to choose current teacher salaries over new charter schools.
Applicants for three of the charter schools appealed to the board in August unsuccessfully.
Prior to the pandemic, The Tennessee Star spoke with Metro City At Large Council Member Steve Glover about charter schools. Glover expressed concerns with the city’s budget that indicated a financial strain long before the tornado and the shutdowns.
The GEER funds were allocated from the Education Stabilization Fund created by the U.S. Congress’s CARES Act.
– – –