Responses to these frequently asked questions are advisory only. Charter schools and charter authorizers are encouraged to review the actual laws and regulations that provide the basis for these responses and consult with their own legal counsel regarding the application of any of these issues to a specific situation.
Q.1. What are the facilities requirements for charter schools?
Q.2. Are charter school facilities required to meet California Education Code (EC) provisions known as the Field Act?
Q.3. Does the state provide funding for charter school facilities?
Charter schools may use any of the following types of facilities:
- Facilities that comply with the California Building Standards Code as adopted and enforced by the local building enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the area in which the charter school is located.
- Facilities that comply with the Field Act.
- Facilities that are exclusively owned or controlled by an entity that is not subject to the California Building Standards Code, such as the federal government.
- A proposed facility within two nautical miles of an existing or proposed runway must receive a review by the Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics prior to acquiring title or leasing property. The code citation and procedure may be found on the CDE Proposed School Sites-Airport Runways Review Web page [http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/fa/sf/airportrunways.asp].
No. As noted above, charter school may, but are not required to, use Field Act compliant facilities.
Yes, there are programs to help with the rent or lease of facilities or the construction of facilities.
The Charter School Facility Grant Program (Senate Bill [SB] 740) [http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cs/as/facgrntoc.asp] provides assistance with facilities rent and lease costs for eligible charter schools. These funds may also be used for costs including, but not limited to, those associated with remodeling buildings, deferred maintenance, initially installing or extending service systems and other built-in equipment, and improving sites. SB 658 (Romero) was approved on September 24, 2008, to provide additional funding to the Charter School Facility Grant Program.
The California School Financing Authority (CSFA) and the Office of Public School Contruction (OPSC) staff jointly administer the Charter School Facilities Program [http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/csfa/charter.asp] that provides low-cost financing for charter school facilities. Projects receive 50 percent of their costs in the form of a state grant, and the school is responsible for the balance of the project costs through either a lump sum matching payment or a long-term loan from the state. Funds from this source have been apportioned, and are not available at this time.
CSFA also administers the State Charter School Facilities Incentive Grants Program [http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/csfa/incentive.asp] to assist charter schools in meeting their facility needs. Under this program, funds may be used toward a charter school’s cost of rent, lease, or mortgage or debt service payments for existing or new facilities or toward the costs associated with the purchase or acquisition of land or the design, construction, or renovation of a facility.
EC Section 41365 [http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=edc&group=41001-42000&file=41360-41367] created the Charter School Revolving Loan Fund [http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cs/as/csrevloantoc.asp] in the State Treasury. A charter school may be eligible to receive a loan through this program and use the funds for facilities.