You are here

CCSP Transition Updates

March 28, 2024

Message from the Colorado League of Charter School regarding the Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant. See full letter here: 

February 23, 2024

Dear Colorado CSP Sub-grantee,

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to provide important updates regarding the transition of the Charter Schools Program (CSP) in Colorado. As we approach the final year of the 2018 CSP Grant, I want to ensure clarity and transparency regarding the changes ahead.

Over the years, the CSP has been instrumental in supporting the growth and development of charter schools across Colorado, providing essential federal funding for expansion and new initiatives. As part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the CSP has played a pivotal role in advancing educational opportunities within our state.

Within the CSP, various activities are funded under the grant - many of which have supported charter schools in Colorado. These programs have included:

  • SE - The grant program for State Entities (this is the program that CDE currently administers)
  • CMO - The grant program for Charter Management Organizations (a program that has funded multiple CMO projects in Colorado directly from the Federal office)
  • CE - The credit enhancement program for charter school facilities (Charter School Facility Solutions, a Colorado nonprofit, currently is a recipient of this program)
  • National Dissemination - The grant program to support national professional learning/dissemination activities (this has funded support for high-quality authorizing projects through the Colorado Charter School Institute and the Colorado Association of Charter School Authorizers)

Historically, the SE grant was known as the program for “State Education Agencies” and was intended for state departments of education. With the reauthorization under ESSA, Congress decided to expand the state definition and renamed the program “State Entities.” The significance of this action is that now, in addition to state departments of education, a “charter school support organization” or “CSSO” (like the Colorado League of Charter Schools), state charter authorizer boards (like the Colorado Charter School Institute), and state governors may also apply. The first competition under this new “State Entities” design was run in 2017 and saw the emergence of some of these other entities receiving awards (Oklahoma was funded as a CSSO, and Mississippi was funded as a state authorizer board). In 2023, the trend continued, with more interest from other entities in administering the grant (most notably, CSSOs). Following the 2023 competition, we saw that 60% of grants awarded were to entities other than state education departments.

With the approaching expiration of Colorado’s current grant, CDE has taken time to engage in external stakeholder conversations to best determine the state’s next application. In 2018, CDE remained the sole interested party to apply on behalf of the state. This year, however, there is clear interest from our CSSO. Accordingly, we have determined the following:

  • The Colorado League of Charter Schools (the League) will represent Colorado in applying for the State Entities (SE) grant this year
  • CDE will support the League's application as no state may hold more than one SE grant

As an existing sub-grantee, this transition will impact how most of you will engage with the CSP. Given the effects, the following section outlines some important considerations to be aware of: 

  • Sub-grantees currently in their performance incentive year will be able to close out their grant with CDE under normal conditions
  • For sub-grantees whose awards are scheduled to extend into later years (i.e., the 2024-25 fiscal year (FY25) and on), schools will need to prepare to transition to a new grant structure in October
    • If the League successfully earns the Federal award, their new grant will take effect on October 1. In this situation, impacted sub-grantees will need to close out the current grant from CDE this fall and apply for a newly designed renewal grant through the League for additional years of funding 
      • For schools to apply for such a grant, the League will be required to design a renewal application. More information about the exact requirements and funding amounts will be given to sub-grantees later  
      • The application used by the League must first be approved by the U.S. Department of Education before the League can share it with sub-grantees
      • As a result of the two points noted above, there will be a time lag between a sub-grantee’s current funding (through September) and authorization for new funding under the League’s grant (probably around January of 2025) 
      • Because of the time lag, CDE plans to work with sub-grantees to authorize spending for FY25 as soon as possible so that schools can utilize the current award as much as possible before the grant closes out. CDE will provide updates in the coming months on the mechanics of this
    • In the event that the League does not win the grant competition this spring/summer (the CSP is a competitive grant and, thus, it is possible that the League could apply but not score high enough to be funded), CDE will request a second “No Cost Extension” to the Federal office, so that CDE can continue our current program for another year 

Beyond the anticipated change with the CSP this fall, sub-grantees should also be aware of the other following activities:

  • Plans for CDE to apply for the Federal “State Facilities Incentive Grant”   
    • As previously noted in this letter, various activities are funded under the CSP. One such activity not mentioned above is the State Facilities Incentive Grant (SFIG). The purpose of the SFIG is to incentivize state investment in existing charter schools through a per-pupil facilities allocation. Colorado is a strong candidate for this competitive grant and CDE wants to apply in an effort to secure additional federal funds that can be used to help offset facility expenses for all eligible charter schools in the state
    • CDE currently anticipates the release of a grant competition for this program in the spring. As CDE works to apply for this grant, we will provide regular updates to the charter school community on the status of the application 
  • Redesign of CDE’s Schools of Choice Unit
    • Currently, the Charter School Office operates with a mix of state and federal funding through the CSP 
    • With state funding, CDE currently supports the following charter activities:
      • Regular engagement with charter schools and charter authorizers related to charter contracts and waivers. Other direct engagement with the State Board of Education related to charter schools 
      • State leadership and dissemination activities for charter schools, which includes open access to the charter office to answer questions about charter schools and cross-unit collaboration and support with state offices impacting charter schools and charter authorizers 
      • Authoring annual legislative reports, managing fiscal notes, and other technical legislative questions
      • Managing public information requests, open records requests, and media inquiries related to charter schools
    • During this transition, the office is also looking to expand support given to charter schools relating to school improvement programs and the administration of services to students with special needs 
  • Anticipated changes to training
    • As part of the CSP grant, CDE also offers various Technical Assistance programs and events (for example, the Administrator Mentoring Cohort and Business Manager Networking programs). Previously scheduled live training opportunities will still be supported by CDE through the current grant period. In addition, CDE is working to create an on-demand repository of training programs that were created through the CSP 
    • CDE is excited to see the training designs that will come through the League’s CSP application and will serve as support as this new work moves forward 
    • As these transitions happen and on-demand resources become available, CDE will ensure regular communication with sub-grantees around these Technical Assistance offerings so that schools can plan accordingly for the current and future school years

As we navigate these changes, I am grateful for your collaboration and engagement with the charter school office. While this transition signifies a significant shift in the management of the CSP, it also presents exciting opportunities for the continued growth and success of charter schools in Colorado.

Thank you for your continued engagement. Feel free to contact me or Paola Paga to schedule a time to discuss. We will plan for a conversation with authorizers during our grant assembly on March 20th and our sub-grantees during the March 21st call. 


Bill Kottenstette

Executive Director, Schools of Choice

Program Director, Colorado Charter School Program