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Charter Schools Issued Grants

Times Staff Writer

Six California charter schools are receiving more than $48 million in grants from a 2002 state bond, the first time that such money has been allocated to pay for construction on campuses of the independent but tax-supported schools.

State Treasurer Phil Angelides was at the Animo Leadership Charter High School in Inglewood on Thursday to announce that the school had received $5 million to fund the construction or purchase of a permanent campus. The school now rents space, which it shares with a law school.

The money was awarded through Proposition 47, which voters approved in November 2002 for modernization and construction of schools and public colleges and universities. The $13-billion bond earmarked almost $100 million for charter schools.

To receive money from the state, a school also must either take a loan in the same amount from the state -- from money included in the Proposition 47 allocation -- or raise local matching funds.

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Steve Barr, Animo’s founder, said the school, whose academically rigorous campus serves mostly students from Spanish-speaking immigrant families in Lennox, is taking a $5-million matching loan and the $5-million grant to procure a permanent high school campus.

“We have seven spots identified: some are open, some are places that we would rehab,” Barr said. The 500-seat school’s first choice, however, is to buy the property from the law school and add facilities there.

Other charter schools that received grants from the state were Montague Charter Academy in Pacoima ($8.8 million); Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana ($14.3 million); two schools in the Aspire charter organization, in Oakland and Stockton, (a total of $18.5 million); and Wheatland Union High School District’s Academy for Career Education in Yuba County ($1.3 million).

Diane Pritchard, principal of Montague Charter, said she hoped her school would be able to use the money to relieve an overcrowded facility; put students on a longer, one-track school year; and build a primary center of the performing and visual arts for students in grades K-2. The school, which is in its seventh year and serves about 1,250 students, also plans to take a matching loan from the state, Pritchard said, adding that they will set up a capital committee to do some fund-raising.

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“We’ve been moving slowly,” Pritchard said. “Now we’re stepping out of the box, and doing different things.”

A spokeswoman for the treasurer’s office said that they hope this will not be the final state grants for charter school construction. A $12-billion state education bond on the March ballot includes an additional $300 million that would be allocated for charter school construction.


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