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FY2024 Appropriations Includes Key Changes for Charter Schools

FY2024 Appropriations Includes Key Changes for Charter Schools

March 25, 2024

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 spending package passed this weekend includes $440 million for the Charter Schools Program (CSP), another year of flat-funding for this program that is integral to charter school growth nationally. However, given the challenging political climate and the proposed cut in the president’s FY2025 budget, this is a win for the charter school community.  

In addition to funding, the explanatory statement for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill includes several key technical changes to the CSP that will give the program more flexibility to better serve students around the country. Take a look at the changes below. 

Change #1: Clarifying Use of Technical Assistance Funds through Grants to State Entities 

Grants to state entities are the largest portion of CSP funds and drive most of the growth of charter schools around the country. The bulk of state entities grant funds must go to subgrants to open, expand, or replicate schools, but 7% of the grant can be set aside to provide technical assistance to support subgrantees and improve the quality of authorizing in the state.

The technical assistance set-aside in the grants to state entities is a powerful tool to support the growth of a strong charter school sector that serves kids well, but current grantees say that the 7% cap limits the quality and quantity of technical assistance they can offer.

While the final FY2024 bill does not include the House language that increased the amount of SE funds that can go to technical assistance, it does clarify that grantees are permitted to require that subgrantees spend a percentage of their subgrant funds on technical assistance. This could come from the CSP grantee, a contractor, or another source and would allow subgrantees to receive technical assistance individually or in consortia with other subgrantees.

In addition, it lists out activities that potentially broaden the scope of what is allowed under current technical assistance: rigorous planning, high-quality professional development, strong community engagement, quality authorizing and effective oversight. Some of this will depend on how the U.S. Department of Education chooses to implement this language.

The National Alliance will continue to work with Congressional leaders on the bipartisan H.R. 6418, the Empower Charter School Educators to Lead Act, which has been introduced in the Senate, and was just passed by the House Education and Workforce Committee. This bill would raise the limit on funds for technical assistance to 15%, create an authority for pre-planning grants for educators, and permit 5 percent of funds to be used for administrative costs.

Change #2: Improving Access to State Facilities Incentive Grants

Access to appropriate and affordable school facilities is one of the biggest barriers to charter school growth. One facility-focused program within the CSP to help meet this need is the State Facilities Incentive Grant (SFIG), which helps states establish or improve per-pupil facilities aid for charter schools.

Unfortunately, SFIG’s impact has been limited because of its narrow scope and competitive nature. In many cases, funds may not be available immediately when a state implements a per-pupil funding program, thus diluting the incentive and creating challenges for states with biennial legislatures. Additionally, in recent years, SFIG has been capped at $10 million annually, effectively limiting the program to funding one state at a time.

The FY2024 appropriations bill does two important things to help improve access to these critical facilities funds:  

  1. Lifting the cap on the amount of funds that can be used each year for SFIG grants. By allowing more CSP funds to go to SFIG, the competition will be able to be run more frequently and fund more states.
  2. Directing the U.S. Department of Education to provide technical assistance to states with biennial legislatures, such as Texas, on how to establish eligibility and meet matching requirements.


It remains to be seen how the Department will leverage these new flexibilities, but it is a step in the right direction.

The National Alliance will continue to work with Congressional leaders on the bipartisan Equitable Access to School Facilities Act introduced by Senators Bill Cassidy (LA) and Michael Bennet (CO). The Equitable Access to School Facilities Act offers more comprehensive reform by expanding the types of state facility aid programs that SFIG can support.

Change #3: Advance Notice of Proposed Priorities and Competitions

The explanatory statement also calls for the U.S. Department of Education to provide at least two weeks’ notice to Congress before announcing a notice of proposed priorities or a notice inviting applications. This comes in response to the 2022 rulemaking process which took the charter school community by surprise and which was launched without consultation as required by Sec. 4307 in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

In addition to maintaining funding for the CSP, these three changes provide greater flexibility to CSP grantees and subgrantees to leverage CSP funds. Flexibility coupled with accountability is key to the charter school model, and these new flexibilities will help charter schools around the country better serve their communities.  

Fiona Sheridan-McIver is the director of policy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

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