Eight charter schools planned in Iowa to get state funding

DES MOINES — The Iowa Board of Education has approved eight new charter schools for state funding — five in Des Moines and three in Cedar Rapids. Most would begin classes in the fall of 2025.

Mike Huguelet helped recruit many of the new charters as executive director of the Iowa Coalition for Public Charter Schools. Hugeuelet says he targeted organizations with experience in other states with dropout recovery and closing achievement gaps.

“I look at public charter schools as problem solvers,” he says, “so there’s no reason to bring a new school here unless it’s solving a problem or filling a need in the community.”

The Omaha-based nonprofit Opportunity Education, backed by TD Ameritrade billionaire Joe Ricketts, was approved to open Quest Forward Charter Schools in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Chief Learning Officer Raymond Ravaglia says the schools will cover 6th to 12th grades and will specialize in active learning and career development, “so they’re not just learning stuff for the sake of learning it. They’re learning stuff because learning is a pathway to a future career and life success.”

California-based Scholarship Prep plans to open an elementary and middle school aimed at serving low income and homeless students on the south side of Des Moines. Governor Kim Reynolds announced this week she plans to use $5 million from federal COVID relief funds to establish start-up grants for charter schools.