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Reynolds announces $7 million charter school grant program

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(The Center Square) – New charter schools could receive up to $500,000 in funding through a grant program announced by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday.

The $7 million program would also grant $200,000 to existing charter schools.

The governor revealed the program when she signed Senate File 2368 into law.

“Public charter schools provide yet another school choice for parents and guardians looking for the education that’s best suited for their children’s abilities and needs. Charter schools are tuition-free, independently operated public schools that have the freedom to design their curriculum and classrooms to meet specific educational objectives,” Reynolds said. “Today, by signing this bill and launching a new infrastructure grant program for start-up and expansion costs, we take a bold step in expanding the charter school opportunities to parents and students across the state.”

Applications for the grants begin June 3.

Senate File 2368 would require public school systems to sell vacant buildings to charter schools or other educational institutions if they received the highest bid. The bill faced opposition in the Legislature, mostly along party lines.

“If you own a grocery store and had a vacant warehouse or building next door, if a competitor grocery store had the highest bid for the property you wanted to sell, would you sell it to your competition, even if they had the highest bid? No, you would protect your interest,” said Rep. Sue Cahill, D-Marshalltown, on the floor of the House of Representatives. “We’re taking away the authority of our communities to make decisions about the needs of their own community.”

The Liberty Justice Center said the bill is a fix to an issue that started after the Students First Act, which provides an education savings account for Iowa’s school children, passed in 2023.

“Government-imposed educational deed restrictions are indefensible—they burden communities with blight and deny educational opportunities to kids,” said Liberty Justice Center attorney Dean McGee. “We encourage all states to remove arbitrary barriers that hinder educational entrepreneurs.”

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