December 2022 ACCS - General Public Comment 1General Public Comment 1 received for the December 8, 2022, Advisory Commission on Charter Schools meeting.
To receive an electronic copy of the below communication, contact the Charter Schools Division by email at email@example.com.
[The following information was provided on Altus Schools letterhead.1]
December 8, 2022
RE: Advisory Commission on Charter Schools (ACCS) December 2022 Subject: The severe Teacher Shortage and the impact on SB 740 budget determination: SUPPORT modifying, suspending, or creating new policies.
Dear Chair Walsh and ACCS Commissioners,
According to the National Education Association, the United States is facing a national shortage of 300,000 teachers and school staff. Even before the pandemic, teacher shortages had reached crisis proportions. California has been among the states hardest hit, with 80 percent of districts experiencing shortages. (EdSource 6.13.22).
On behalf of Audeo Charter School, Audeo Charter School II, Audeo Charter School III, Audeo Valley Charter School, The Charter School of San Diego, Grossmont Secondary School, Mirus Secondary School and Sweetwater Secondary School also known as the Altus Schools, and the over 6,000 students we serve in Southern California, we are writing to urge the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools (ACCS) to support suspending, modifying, or creating new policy regarding the funding determination metrics contained in SB 740. The pupil-teacher ratio challenges all schools to hire enough certificated personnel to meet this strict requirement.
Providing stable and predictable funding is essential for charter public schools to provide a high-quality education to the hundreds of thousands of charter students across the state, particularly those in low-income and underserved communities.
Altus Model Schools share a philosophy of putting kids first by using a personalized approach to education. The mission of all Altus Schools is to bring to all communities an equitable, inclusive, and high-quality educational option for students most in need. An average of 75 percent of our youth are economically and socially disadvantaged. Most of our students enter our Schools three to four years behind in core academic skills. Since 1994, our Schools have positively impacted the lives of 66,000 of these severely at-promise students, their families, and the communities in which they live.
With the current severe labor force shortage on teachers, including special education teachers facing all schools in California the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) requirement of SB 740 needs to be revised, suspended, or modified. The ability to maintain a PTR of 25:1 is a serious threat to schools serving students in our neediest communities. This one component impacts a school’s ability to receive a 100 percent SB funding determination.
We ask that the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools acknowledge the shortage of teachers and modify the current ratio to 30:1 for three years. This will allow time for schools, districts, County Offices, and communities at large to find ways of dealing with this alarming shortage of qualified personnel.
Based on both the Harris Poll and the Charter Alliance polls indicate that 92 percent of parents want more and better options for their children’s education. We believe that a quality education must be delivered by fully credentialed, highly qualified teachers. The change in student to teacher ratio would help us in delivering on the parents’ and community’s highest expectation.
Specifically, the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) for independent study must be modified to account for staffing shortfalls. Policy currently reads as follows:
- Maintain a ratio of average daily attendance (ADA) for independent study pupils to full-time certificated employees that does not exceed a pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of 25:1 or the PTR of the largest unified school district in the county or counties in which the charter school operates.
In addition to the PTR, a nonclassroom-based (NCB) charter school must meet the following criteria to qualify for a proposed recommendation of 100 percent funding:
- Spend at least 40 percent of the school’s public revenues on salaries and benefits for all employees who possess a valid teaching certificate.
- Spend at least 80 percent of all revenues on instruction and related services.
An unmodified PTR could unfairly affect the most vulnerable students in our State because the very schools that serve these communities are the most impacted by the teacher shortage. By modifying the PTR for three years schools can continue to support students where they are finding success, often for the first time. We must work together to balance the very real needs of the schools with the needs of our students who deserve fully funded schools where they can learn and succeed. This is especially important in communities where results have been historically poor.
We thank you for your careful consideration of this item and urge you to support the California Department of Education in suspending, modifying, or creating new policy regarding the funding determination metrics contained in SB 740.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please feel free to contact Mary Searcy Bixby, Founder, President, and CEO Altus Schools at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com.
External Relations Officer
1Altus Schools submitted the same public comment for the October ACCS meeting, which was canceled. A PDF version of that letter is available upon request via email to Charters@cde.ca.gov.