Haslam Announces $40 Million Charter School Fund

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 | 09:10am

Fund to Enhance Educational Opportunities

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and recently-named Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman today announced nearly $40 million to grow and support charter schools in Tennessee.

The funds are part of a broad public-private partnership to increase the number of high performing charter schools in the state and include:

●      $14 million through First to the Top funding,
●      $5.8 million through the federal Investing in Innovation program, and
●      $20 million in private funds raised through a new public-private partnership announced today.

The unprecedented public-private partnership creates a $30 million charter growth fund built though a $10 million grant in First to the Top funding and $20 million in private funds raised in partnership with the Charter School Growth Fund and the Center for Charter School Excellence in Tennessee.

 “Creating an environment to grow and develop high-performing charter schools across the state is an important element to our overall education reform strategy,” Haslam said. “Charter schools offer new opportunities for learning, and if our goal is the best possible education for every student in Tennessee, more students should have the option of a charter school as a learning environment.

“Strong partnerships between education, business and philanthropic communities and allowing more charter schools to open will spur innovation and more educational opportunities for Tennessee’s students,” Haslam added.

The funds will provide for the launch of 40 new startup charter schools and the growth of 4 to 6 charter school management organizations.

“This will help us make sure that across the state in all different kinds of communities we can have examples of these exceptional schools that demonstrate to everyone what is possible with regard to a child’s educational opportunities,” Huffman said.

The funds will allow Tennessee to build one of the first state-wide platforms for the development in the country of charter schools from creation of high performing schools to large scale charter school networks.

“There is a great opportunity to develop a set of very high-performing charter schools that can serve the students and families in Tennessee,” said Kevin Hall, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Charter School Growth Fund. “We, and our partner the Center for Charter School Excellence, are honored to be working with Governor Haslam, Commissioner Huffman, and our philanthropic partners to launch this effort that will create 40 great new schools over the next five years.”

The Charter School Growth Fund is a non-profit venture capital fund working to transform K-12 education by investing in charter school networks and helping Tennessee’s Achievement School District enhance alternative educational opportunities for children attending the state’s most failing schools. The Center for Charter School Excellence in Tennessee, a non-profit working to close the education achievement gap by launching and supporting high-quality public charter schools across the state.

Tennessee was one of just two states selected on Mar. 29, 2010, to receive over $501 million for education in the first round of the federal government's Race to the Top competition. Expanding the number of high performing charter schools in the state and supporting the quality of existing charter schools is a priority of Tennessee’s reform plan. Tennessee’s $40 million charter expansion plan also includes:

Tennessee’s First to the Top work with both partners will allow several new charter schools to open in the next three years within close proximity to schools currently eligible for state inclusion into the Achievement School District. The private funds will allow for additional growth of charter schools and charter management organizations across the state.