Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

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 External link opens in new window or tab., 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 (CSD) 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.

Time line pursuant to EC Section 47605(b) External link opens in new window or tab.

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:

  • Submit the Charter Submission Package to the CSD at the CDE.

Note: Charter Submission Package deadlines are generally two months prior to the corresponding SBE meeting date.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • The County-District-School (CDS) code may be assigned* after the charter school receives the charter number at the SBE meeting.

*Please see section below - Background on the CDS Code.

Background on the CDS Code

Once the charter number is assigned, the CDS code may be assigned by the CDS Administrator in the Educational Data Management Division at the CDE. The CDE’s administration of CDS codes meets the federal requirements for states to annually report Directory information to the U. S. Department of Education (ED) through the EDFacts Submission System. Additionally the administration of CDS codes provides the CDE, as well as other state agencies and postsecondary institutions with a basis for tracking schools and districts in California

The 14-digit CDS 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 for and obtain certain types of 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. A charter school may be operational and serving students without a CDS code, however, public funds will not be received without a CDS code.

Questions: Charter Schools Division | | 916-322-6029 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, November 12, 2015
Related Content
Recently Posted in Charter Schools
  • Charter School Closures List Fiscal Year 2016-17 (XLS) (added 22-Feb-2017)
    This is a list of Charter Schools that have closed with notifications submitted to the California Department of Education, Charters Schools Division, for the Fiscal Year 2016-17.
  • PCSGP RFA 2016-17 Round 2 (added 09-Feb-2017)
    Request for applications for round two of the Public Charter Schools Grant Program Planning and Implementation Grant.