Voluntary Public School Choice
CFDA Number: 84.361
Program Type: Discretionary/Competitive Grants
This program supports efforts to establish or expand intradistrict, interdistrict, and open enrollment public school choice programs to provide parents, particularly parents whose children attend low-performing public schools, with expanded education options. Programs and projects assisted are required to use a portion of the grant funds to provide the students selected to participate in the program with transportation services, or the cost of transportation, to and from the public elementary schools and secondary schools, including charter schools, which the students choose to attend under the program. A grantee may not use funds for school construction. No more than 5 percent of the funds made available through the grant for any fiscal year may be used for administrative expenses..
TYPES OF PROJECTS
Programs and projects assisted under this section are required to use a portion of the grant funds to provide the students selected to participate in the program with transportation services or the cost of transportation, to and from the public elementary schools and secondary schools, including charter schools, which the students choose to attend under the program.
Programs and projects assisted under this section may include the following activities:
- Planning or designing a program (for not more than one year);
- Making tuition transfer payments to public elementary or secondary schools to which students transfer under the program;
- Implementing capacity-enhancing activities that enable high-demand public elementary or secondary schools to accommodate transfer requests under the program; and
- Paying for other costs reasonably necessary to implement a public school choice program.
The Voluntary Public School Choice program supports States and school districts in efforts to establish or expand a public school choice program. The Department makes competitive awards to State education agencies, local education agencies, or partnerships that include both, and other public, for-profit or nonprofit organizations. In granting awards, the Department gives priority to applications that: (1) provide the widest variety of choices to students in participating schools; (2) would have the greatest impact in allowing students who attend low-performing schools to attend higher-performing schools; and (3) propose partnerships to implement an interdistrict approach to providing students with greater public school choice.
Grantees may use their funds to: (1) plan and design a public school choice program (for up to one year); (2) make tuition transfer payments to the public schools that students choose to attend; (3) enhance capacity-building activities in high-demand public schools allowing them to serve greater numbers of students (except that program funds cannot be used for school construction); (4) carry out public information campaigns to inform parents and students about public school choice opportunities; and (5) pay other costs that are allowable and reasonably necessary to implement a public school choice program. Student participation must be voluntary. If more students choose to participate in a program than can be accommodated, the grantee must select students to participate on the basis of a lottery. Grantees may use up to 5 percent of their allocations for administrative expenses.
By statute, the Department may reserve up to 5 percent of the amount appropriated for evaluation activities, dissemination of information, and technical assistance.