7 Districts Split $25M in Gates Education Grants

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  • PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Seven school districts committed to working with charter schools to improve student achievement will split about $25 million in grants from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, officials announced Wednesday.

    The funding is designed to deepen the collaborations among educators in Philadelphia; Boston; Denver; New Orleans; New York; Hartford, Conn.; and Spring Branch, Texas.

    “These cities are particularly committed to advancing college-ready strategies in both district and charter schools,” said Vicky Phillips, education director for the foundation’s College Ready program in the U.S. “What we’re most excited about is the common ground that’s getting established.”

    Charter schools, which are publicly funded but operate independently of school districts, have been a lightning rod in the debate over education reform. Supporters say they provide innovative and sometimes safer alternatives to traditional neighborhood schools. Opponents contend they drain resources from school districts without providing a better education.

    The seven grant recipients are among 16 communities that entered into compacts designed to reduce tension between districts and charters. By signing the agreements, which entail sharing resources and best practices, districts received $100,000 and qualified for further funding.

    Over the next few years, Hartford will get nearly $5 million and Denver about $4 million. The other districts will receive between $2.2 million and $3.7 million each.

    Funds will go toward projects including universal enrollment systems, leadership training for aspiring principals and joint professional development for charter and district teachers.

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