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Purpose and Process of the Charter Number

The purpose of the charter number and CDS code and the timelines to get them.
Purpose and Process of the Charter Number

Pursuant to California Education Code (EC) Section 47602, the State Board of Education (SBE) assigns a number to locally approved charters and charters authorized by the SBE. This four digit number is called the charter number. The Charter Schools Division acts as the liaison for charter school numbering by the SBE.

Charter schools must have local approval prior to requesting a charter school number from the SBE. Local approval is done by the school district or county office of education that administers the geographic location of the proposed charter school site. This authorizer is referred to as the authorizing local educational agency (LEA).

Common Terms

Authorizing LEA: The authorizing LEA refers to the authorizing local educational agency. Charters may be authorized by a school district, county office of education or the State Board of Education.

Startup: A startup charter school is a new school that has never existed or served students before.

Conversion: A conversion charter school is a pre-existing traditional school that converts to a charter.

Direct funded: A charter school may elect to receive funding directly. Briefly, this means the charter school will have a separate account at the treasurer’s office in the county in which they are located. Often charters that are direct funded are referred to as “independent” charters. This term is not recognized in statute and it is not recommended to be used to describe the charter school.

Locally funded: A charter school may elect to receive their funding through their authorizing LEA. Similar to direct funded charters, locally funded charter schools are often referred to as “dependent” charters. This term is not recognized in statute and is not recommended to be used to describe the charter school.

Timeline Pursuant to EC 47605(b)

A public hearing is to be held no more than 30 days after a local governing board receives a petition.

A decision to grant or deny is to be determined no more than 60 days* after a local governing board receives a petition.

*date may be extended by an additional 30 days if agreed upon by both parties

After local approval:

  1. Submit the Charter Submission Package to the Charter Schools Division (CSD) at the California Department of Education (CDE).
    Note: Charter Submission Package deadlines are generally two months prior to the corresponding SBE meeting date.
  2. A formal e-mail will be sent to the School Contact named on the Application for Charter Number indicating a Charter Submission Package will be assigned a charter number at an SBE Meeting. Any missing materials in the Charter Submission Package will be outlined in this e-mail.
  3. Complete Charter Submission Packages will be added to the Agenda for Charter School Numbering and be heard by the SBE. This item is usually heard on the last day of the SBE meeting.
  4. After the agenda item is heard and approved, an e-mail notification outlining the assigned charter number and pertinent information will be sent to the School and Authorizing LEA Contacts listed on the Application for Charter Number, as well as the County Superintendent and CDS Administrator (a California Department of Education employee).
  5. The County-District-School (CDS) code will be assigned* after the charter school receives the charter number at the SBE meeting.
    *Please see intent below.
  6. After both numbers are assigned, the charter school will be visible on two main CDE Web pages: The California Public School Directory [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/sd/] and the Charter School Locator [http://staging.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/cs/].
Background on the CDS Code

Once the charter number is assigned, the CDS code is assigned by the CDS Administrator in the Data Management Division at the CDE. The CDS code system is an administrative convenience designed to provide the CDE, the Department of Finance and postsecondary institutions with a basis for tracking schools.

This 14-digit code is the official, unique identification of a school within California. The first two digits identify the county code, the next five digits identify authorizing LEA code, and the last seven digits identify the school code.

It is the CSD and the CDS Administrator’s intention to have CDS codes assigned to charter schools no more than one business week after the last SBE meeting day. This intent is, however, subject to change and contingent upon conflicting due dates and whether all materials have been correctly submitted by the charter school.

In order for the charter school to apply and obtain funding, the CDS code is mandatory. CDS codes may be assigned to a charter school up to one year from the school’s first date of instruction.

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Questions: Sandi Ridge | sridge@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-1646 
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