- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Bush administration is providing D.C. public charter schools with more than $15 million over the next three years to help new charter schools lease, buy or renovate buildings.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams and other officials accepted a symbolic check yesterday from the Department of Education at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School.

“In terms of providing a structured environment and more discipline and character building for children, certainly the charter schools are doing that,” said Mr. Williams.

Nearly two dozen public charter schools on 31 campuses will operate in the District this year. Under a 1996 law, traditional public schools and public charter schools receive equal funding based on enrollment.

“Over 15,000 students in D.C. are attending charter schools, and that’s about 21 percent of the students in the District,” said Nina Rees, a Department of Education official.



Since 2001, the Bush administration has provided $124 million for charter schools. The program allows the schools to seek loan guarantees for real estate purchases or to insure leasing fees. The money can also be leveraged through private-lending institutions. About 48,000 students attending 120 charter schools in the District and eight states have benefited from the grants.

The Stokes school now has 250 elementary school students, offers French and Spanish language immersion programs. The students come from 20 different countries and 90 percent are considered low income, making them eligible for the free and reduced-fee lunch program.

Two-thirds of the students who have completed sixth grade at the school have moved on to private or parochial schools including St. Albans, Washington Jesuit Academy and the Maret School.

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