PRESS RELEASES
Louisiana Awarded $20.9 Million No Child Left Behind Grant to Assist Damaged Charter Schools, Create New Charter Schools
Funds to be used to expand classrooms for students displaced by hurricanes
Archived Information


FOR RELEASE:
September 30, 2005
Contacts: Chad Colby
(202) 401-1576

Louisiana has been awarded a $20.9 million No Child Left Behind grant through the Charter Schools Program to help reopen charter schools damaged by the hurricanes, help create 10 new charter schools, and expand existing charter schools to accommodate students displaced by hurricane damage, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced today.

"President Bush and I are committed to making sure these students get a quality education wherever they are and this funding will get Louisiana students back in school," said Spellings. "School is a stabilizing influence for children and entire families who are working to rebuild their lives."

"I want to thank Secretary Spellings and President Bush for this infusion of federal funds," said State Superintendent of Education Cecil J. Picard. "Charter schools, like many of our public schools, have been impacted dramatically by the hurricanes and our students will benefit greatly from these highly flexible grant funds. We will rebuild Louisiana through education, and this is an awesome first step."

As a result of the hurricanes, public schools, including charter schools, were severely damaged or destroyed in New Orleans and its surrounding parishes. Eleven charter schools were located in the Orleans parish, one of the hardest-hit areas. Families and their children have moved to other parts of the state and to other states. It is estimated that more than 300,000 students were displaced as a result of these hurricanes.

Louisiana will use these funds to assist charter schools damaged by the hurricanes in the recovery of professional staff, supplies, equipment and other operational needs. Funds will also be used to assist charter schools that have the ability and capacity to significantly expand existing classrooms and facilities in geographic areas of highest need in order to serve large numbers of students displaced by the hurricanes.

With the grant, Louisiana will be able to plan, design and implement an estimated 10 new charter schools approved by local school boards and the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Many of these are planned to be open and operating by January 2006.

Charter schools are independent public schools designed and operated by parents, educators, community leaders, education entrepreneurs and others with a contract, or charter, from a public agency, such as a local or state education agency or an institution of higher education. Charter schools are operated free-of-charge to parents and are open to all students. These schools provide parents enhanced education choices within the public school system. Exempt from many statutory and regulatory requirements, charter schools receive increased flexibility in exchange for increased accountability for improving academic achievement. The first U.S. public charter school opened in 1992. Today, more than 3,400 charter schools serve nearly one million students in 40 states and Washington, D.C.

The No Child Left Behind Act is the bipartisan landmark education reform law designed to change the culture of America's schools by closing the achievement gap among groups of students, offering more flexibility to states, giving parents more options and teaching students based on what works. Under the law's strong accountability provisions, states must describe how they will close the achievement gap and make sure all students, including those with disabilities, achieve academically.

More information about the No Child Left Behind Act is available at www.nclb.gov.

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Last Modified: 10/18/2005