- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - An operator of charter schools in Tennessee and Mississippi is in line to receive $9.6 million in federal funding, with plans to spend the money on expansion.

RePublic Schools, based in Nashville, Tennessee, was one of 12 charter school networks awarded funding Monday by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Charter schools are helping to close gaping inequalities that have existed, in some cases, across generations,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters on a conference call.

The federal government will give RePublic $3.8 million this year, and recommends the operator receive another $5.8 million in future years if Congress appropriates money.

“This will allow us to expand and replicate our model, to serve more kids,” RePublic CEO Ravi Gupta said in a telephone interview. “It gives us startup funds to start new schools.”

The department also recommended $250 million in federal money be given to seven states and the District of Columbia to promote charter schools. Tennessee and Mississippi received none of that money.

Gupta said the grant calls for his network to grow from 1,335 students this year to 7,215 students by 2022 across all the areas it serves. RePublic also plans to help other schools teach computer programming, in addition running its own schools.

RePublic runs three middle schools in Nashville and opened a high school there this fall. It opened a middle school in Jackson, one of the first two charter schools in Mississippi. The operator’s schools have performed well on state tests in Tennessee, but it has been an object of criticism from charter school opponents over everything from discipline policies to a book it chose for some seventh graders to read.

Earlier this month, Mississippi authorities approved RePublic’s plan to open a second and third school in Jackson next fall. One of those would include elementary grades, the first time RePublic has taught younger students. Gupta said RePublic could choose to expand further in Jackson, but said the group wants “to go where the need is highest.”

Gupta said RePublic is currently teaching computer coding to a few hundred students in Austin, Texas, and to a smaller number elsewhere.

___

Follow Jeff Amy at: https://twitter.com/jeffamy

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide