November 14, 2002
County and District Superintendents
County and District Chief Business Officials
Charter School Administrators
Janet Sterling, Director
School Fiscal Services Division
Significant changes in charter school law occurred in the recent legislative session. This letter is intended to give you an overview of those changes. Charter schools and authorizing entities are encouraged to review the actual text of each bill. Chaptered versions of each of these bills may be found on the Internet.
Over the next several months, the California Department of Education (CDE) will be working closely with the State Board of Education (SBE) and the SBE's Advisory Commission on Charter Schools (ACCS) to interpret and implement these new laws. Summaries of significant charter school legislation are grouped by major topics below. All new laws are effective beginning January 1, 2003, unless otherwise noted.
This bill, the most comprehensive charter legislation this year, makes significant revisions to charter school law regarding charter petitions and approvals, financial reporting, and the location of charter school operations. Over the next several months, the SBE, in cooperation with the CDE and the ACCS will be working to interpret and implement the bill's provisions through regulation. The key provisions of AB 1994 include:
(Education Code sections 1628, 42100, and 47602 through 47612.1.)
This bill, an urgency measure effective September 14, 2002, makes changes to the charter school facilities grant program that was established last year in SB 740 (Chapter 892/01). Specifically, this bill expands eligibility for a facilities reimbursement grant to charter schools in which at least 70 percent of the pupil population is eligible for free or reduced price meals. This bill also clarifies the types of facilities costs that are eligible for reimbursement. The new eligibility criteria will be applied to reimbursements of 2001-02 costs. Therefore, charter schools that believe they met the new criteria during the 2001-02 fiscal year should submit an application to the CDE. Applications are available on the Internet. Specific application materials that reflect the changes in the law have been mailed to each eligible charter school in a separate mailing. The 2002 Budget Act contains $10 million to reimburse eligible applicants for costs incurred during 2001-02. If the program is oversubscribed, a proportional reduction will be made.
Funds for reimbursement of costs incurred during the 2002-03 fiscal year have not been appropriated, but are expected to be included in the 2003-04 Governor's Budget. (Education Code sections 47614.5 and 47605.3.)
This bill establishes a charter school facilities program to allocate state school facilities bond funds. The school bond measure adopted by Proposition 47, on the November ballot, specifically includes up to $100 million for charter school facilities. This bill establishes the program to allocate these funds. Specifically, the law allows 'financially sound' charter schools to apply for funding to build, purchase, or retrofit facilities for
use by the charter school. An eligible charter school must be located in a school district that has school building program eligibility and may apply directly or through the school district. One-half of the project cost would be provided as a grant, and the charter school, through 'lease' payments or in a lump sum, would pay the other half. Projects approved under this program must meet all Field Act requirements and all other reviews and approvals required of traditional schools in the state school building program. The CDE will not have a direct role in implementing this program. It will be administered through the California School Finance Authority and the State Allocation Board (Education Code sections 17078.50 through 17180.5.)
This is an urgency bill that was effective May 10, 2002. It extends the sunset for the continuous appropriation for the charter school block grant. This bill is necessary to provide the CDE with authority to disburse block grant funds to charter schools. (Education Code Section 47612.)
This bill consolidates various existing instructional materials programs and funding into the Instructional materials Funding Realignment Program. The impact on charter schools of this realignment is that instructional materials programs included in the charter school categorical block grant have been removed and merged into the new instructional materials program, which is not included in the block grant calculation. As a result, charter schools must now apply separately for funding for the Instructional Materials Funding Realignment Program and comply with program requirements. (Education Code sections 60240 through 60247.5.)
This is the Education Trailer Bill to the 2002 Budget Act and is an urgency statute effective for the 2002-03 fiscal year. Section 10 of the bill revises the calculation method used to determine the growth rate for the charter school categorical block grant to base it on final State Budget Act data rather than May Revision date. (Education Code Section 47634.5.)
This bill allows all-charter districts that are not funded through the charter school block grant to receive declining enrollment funding for average daily attendance (ADA) generated by students who reside in the district. (Education Code sections 42238.5, 42238.52, and 42238.53.)
This bill allows charter schools to report ADA and receive funding if they are providing extended year services to special education students pursuant to an individualized education program (IEP). This is a technical correction to ensure charter schools receive the funding for services provided. This change will be reflected in CDE's ADA data collection process for the 2002-03 fiscal year. (Education Code Section 47646.)
This bill requires a charter school to transmit a copy of its annual audit to the State Controller and the COE where the charter school is located. This provision is also contained in AB 1994. (Education Code Section 47605.)
The information contained in this memorandum is advisory only. Charter schools and authorizing entities are encouraged to review the actual laws that provide the basis for this memo and consult with their own legal counsel regarding the application of any of these issues to a specific situation.
This memo is also available on the CDE web site. If you have general questions about charter schools, please visit our web site or contact our Charter Schools Office at 916-322-6029.