Originally printed in Cleveland.com on August 19, 2016

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Menlo Park Academy and theBreakthrough charter schools will receive the largest grants from the state from a new $25 million fund to help charters rehabilitate or build schools.

Menlo Park’s gifted program, now located in the West Park neighborhood of Cleveland, will receive $4.6 million for its plan to renovate the old Joseph & Feiss Co. factory on W. 53rd Street near Interstate 90 as its new home.

Breakthrough received grants for three schools, including $4.6 million to rehabilitate the former Willard School at W. 93rd Street and Marginal Road for the new Village Preparatory School Willard.

That school already opened for its first year with just kindergarten and first grade. It plans to add grades over the next few years through fourth grade, then add a new Entrepreneurship Preparatory School in 2017 that will cover fifth through eighth grades.

Those grants are more than double what the state granted to any of the other six schools sharing $17 million in awards from the $25 million pool that Gov. John Kasich and the state legislature set aside for charter facilities in the 2015 state budget.

Breakthrough will also receive about $350,000 for work at Entrepreneurship Preparatory School Woodland Hills and $1.6 million for work at Citizens Academy Southeast.

See below for a list of all schools in Ohio receiving money and for descriptions of the projects.

“We’re very excited,” said Breakthrough spokesman Lyman Millard. “This is a really good opportunity to serve a lot more kids in Cleveland.”

The grants are the first significant money the state has given charter schools to help with facilities, something that charter school supporters have pushed for. There was also significant debate last year over whether to give money to highly-rated schools and operators or to schools with highly-rated oversight agencies known as “sponsors.”

Breakthrough helped lead a push at the statehouse last year to make sure the money only goes to strong schools. Millard said he hopes the state will offer more to charters in the future to help strong schools replicate.

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