Reynolds announces $7 million grant program for charter schools

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Official headshot

By Ty Rushing

May 20, 2024

Gov. Kim Reynolds says this will expand charter schools in Iowa

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced in a Friday release she was creating a $7 million grant program to help fund new and existing charter schools in Iowa.

The release does not specify where the funds for the program are coming from, but it will provide up to $500,000 for new charter schools and $200,000 for existing charter schools to use toward infrastructure costs. A charter school is a tuition-free school of choice that is publicly funded but independently run, according to Education Week.

A few concerns about charter schools are that they draw students—and funds—from neighborhood public schools, they don’t have the same transparency standards as public schools while receiving public funds, and some of them are part of for-profit chains.

Reynolds made the grant announcement at Horizon Science Academy, a Des Moines charter school, after signing a bill to require public school districts to sell school buildings or other district property to charter or private schools if they are the highest bidder. The legislation also prevents school districts from refusing to sell property to non-public schools.

“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,” Reynolds said in a release.

During her tenure as governor, Reynolds has signed legislation that has loosened regulations around charter schools, which has led to more of them opening in Iowa.

Three charter schools—including Horizon—have opened since 2021 and there are eight pending charter school applications for the 2024-25 school year. Iowa had two charter schools before 2021 when Reynolds signed two bills to change the laws around charter schools.

“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,” Reynolds said at the bill signing.

  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

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