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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Public Charter Schools Planning Grant Availability

[36 Pa.B. 1052]

   Under the leadership of Governor Edward Rendell and the Secretary of Education, the Department of Education (Department) is committed to supporting strategies and innovation that help meet the goal of providing strong results for all students. In particular, the Department is focusing on three key areas:

   1.  Increased Achievement:  All students will achieve at the proficient or advanced levels in core subject areas.

   2.  Equitable Outcomes:  There will not be an achievement gap between student subgroups.

   3.  Student Preparedness:  All high school students will graduate prepared for postsecondary education or high-skill employment.

   Through the Charter School Competitive Planning Grant (planning grant) process, the Department seeks to expand the number of high-quality, innovative and unique charter schools.

   Planning grants provide support for eligible applicants interested in planning a charter school. Planning grant funding will be contracted for 12 months.

   The Department will grant Federal charter school funding to eligible applicants that plan to develop unique and innovative charter schools that will incorporate the following best practices:

   1.  Rigorous and engaging curriculum.

   2.  Innovative, unique and effective instruction.

   3.  Artful use of infrastructure.

   4.  Deep partnerships with community organizations, universities, businesses and/or regional and National organizations.

   5.  Intensive teacher and leadership training.

   6.  Meaningful continuous assessment that is aligned with standards.

Eligible Applicants

   To apply for a planning grant, an applicant may be any individual or group of individuals (including a public or private nonprofit organization), which may include teachers, administrators and other school staff; parents/caretakers of students who will be attending the school; other members of the local community; any nonsectarian college, university or museum located in this Commonwealth; and any nonsectarian, not-for-profit corporation. The eligible applicant may propose to create a new school or to convert an existing traditional public school or a portion of an existing traditional public school.

   No charter school shall be established or funded by and no charter shall be granted to any sectarian school, institution or other entity. No funds allocated or disbursed under sections 1701-A--1732-A of the Charter School Law (24 P. S. §§ 17-1701-A--17-1732-A) shall be used to directly support instruction under section 1327.1 of the Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. § 13-1327.1).

Grant Terms and Conditions

   Planning grants are awarded to charter school developers who do not have an approved charter but have an interest in opening a charter school. The grant covers a 12-month period and should be used to explore the steps necessary in starting a public charter school. The grant is designed to offer assistance and resources to charter school developers and help them to refine and complete their plans with the result of opening a unique, high- quality and innovative charter school. Funds may be used to develop a charter school application or refine existing plans, promote interest in the charter school and/or provide training for developers and staff.

   Grants of up to $50,000 are available for the planning of a public charter school that will open in 2007. These planning grants are an investment in the Commonwealth's educational future. Successful applicants will have explicitly described how they will incorporate the best practices and habits of practice outlined previously.

   Planning grant funds will be awarded through a competitive review process.

   The Department will ensure that reviewers are highly qualified individuals of diverse expertise, geographic location, gender and racial and ethnic representation. The review process will take place following the application due date deadline.

   There is no guarantee that the submission of an application will result in funding or that funding will be allocated at the level requested. The Department reserves the right to negotiate all budgets. Written notification of grant award decisions will be sent to the contact person indicated on the e-grant application after final approval by the Secretary of Education.

   The planning grant application must be submitted to the Department by means of the e-grant system by the close of business on March 29, 2006. Access to the grant application will be closed within 24 hours of the due date.

   The Department maintains final authority regarding grant eligibility and the acceptance of grant applications and reserves the right to reject any or all applications.

   Applicants who have technical questions regarding the e-grant system should contact the e-grant help desk at (717) 783-6686.

   Applicants who have nontechnical questions about the planning grant process should e-mail the Bureau of Community and Student Services, Division of Nonpublic, Private and Charter School Services at ra-csar@state. pa.us.

GERALD L. ZAHORCHAK, D.Ed.,   
Acting Secretary

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 06-363. Filed for public inspection March 3, 2006, 9:00 a.m.]



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