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February 4, 2004, Extra Credit
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February 4, 2004
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 February 3
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FY 2005 Budget Facts: Expanding Options for Parents

Expanding educational options for parents was a key achievement of the No Child Left Behind Act and remains one of the President's highest priorities. No Child Left Behind requires school districts to offer students attending schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, the opportunity to transfer to a better-performing school, or to obtain supplemental educational services from a public- or private-sector provider, which may include a faith-based organization. President Bush also has provided strong support for the expansion of charter schools, and championed the creation of a scholarship program for low-income students in the District of Columbia, particularly those enrolled in low-performing schools.

The reality, however, is that in most school districts there are too few options for parents seeking a quality education for their children. To help overcome this problem, the 2005 request includes the following proposals designed to ensure that parents have meaningful choices:

  • $50 MILLION FOR A NEW CHOICE INCENTIVE FUND that would provide competitive awards to states, school districts, and community-based nonprofit organizations to provide parents the opportunity to transfer their children to a higher-performing public, private, or charter school. A major objective would be to fund applicants proposing to provide large numbers of students with expanded choice opportunities.

  • $27 MILLION FOR VOLUNTARY PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE GRANTS to give families better education options by encouraging states and school districts to establish or expand public school choice programs, including those across a State or across districts. Grants support planning, transportation, tuition transfer payments, and efforts to increase the capacity of schools to accept students exercising a choice option.

  • $219 MILLION FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS GRANTS, which would support approximately 1,200 new and existing charter schools. The request includes $19 million for the Per-Pupil Facilities Aid program, which assists charter schools in obtaining facilities by matching funds from State programs that make payments, on a per-pupil basis, to finance charter schools facilities.

  • $100 MILLION FOR THE CREDIT ENHANCEMENT FOR CHARTER SCHOOL FACILITIES PROGRAM, an increase of nearly $63 million, to assist charter schools in acquiring, leasing, and renovating school facilities. A major obstacle to the creation of charter schools is their limited ability to obtain suitable academic facilities. This program supports competitive grants to public and nonprofit entities to help charter schools finance their facilities through such means as providing loan guarantees, insuring debt, and other activities to encourage private lending.

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About Extra Credit
NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 02/06/2004