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Universal Prekindergarten and Charter Schools FAQs

Frequently asked questions related to Assembly Bill 131.

The below frequently asked questions (FAQs) are intended to provide clarification to charter schools, charter authorizers, and interest holders on matters related to Assembly Bill 131 External link opens in new window or tab. [Chapter 116, Statutes of 2021], which was approved by the Governor on July 23, 2021.

Additional FAQs regarding California state law related to Universal Prekindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten are available at Universal Prekindergarten FAQs.

Universal PreKindergarten Grants Funding Logistics

What is the Universal Prekindergarten Planning and Implementation Grant? (Posted 06-May-2022)

California Education Code (EC) Section 8281.5, created the Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) Planning and Implementation (P&I) Grant Program, which provides a total of $200 million to support planning around access to classroom-based PreKindergarten programs. This grant is allocated in two parts:

  1. UPK P&I Grant for local educational agencies (LEAs) (school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education) based on a formula specified in EC sections 8281.5(c)(1)(A) and (C). The link to this funding allocation page can be found at Universal Prekindergarten Planning & Implementation Grant.
    • These funds may be used for costs associated with creating or expanding California State Preschool Programs (CSPP) or Transitional Kindergarten (TK) programs, or to establish or strengthen partnerships with other providers of prekindergarten education within the LEA, including Head Start programs, to ensure that high-quality prekindergarten options are available for four-year-old children. Allowable costs include, but are not necessarily limited to, planning costs, hiring and recruitment costs, staff training and professional development, classroom materials, and supplies.
    • LEAs receiving these grant funds are required to develop a plan articulating how all children in their attendance area will have access to full-day learning programs the year before kindergarten that meet the needs of parents, including through partnerships with the LEA’s expanded learning offerings, the After-School Education and Safety Program, CSPP, Head Start programs, and other community-based early learning programs. This plan must be submitted for consideration by their governing board or body at a public meeting on or before June 30, 2022. Additional reporting requirements, including expenditure data, will be outlined in the future.
  2. UPK P&I – Countywide Planning and Capacity Building funds with a minimum base grant of $15,000 for each LEA in their county that operates kindergarten programs specified in EC Section 8281.5(c)(1)(B). The link to this funding allocation page can be found at UPK Planning & Implementation - Countywide Planning and Capacity Grant.
    • These funds may be used for costs associated with providing countywide planning and capacity building to help LEAs in their county create or expand CSPP or TK programs, or to establish or strengthen partnerships with other providers of PreKindergarten education within the county, including Head Start programs, to ensure that high-quality options are available for four-year-old children countywide. Allowable costs include, but are not necessarily limited to, planning costs, hiring and recruitment costs, staff training and professional development, classroom materials, and supplies.
County offices of education (COEs) are required to develop and present a plan that describes how the COE is providing support for countywide planning and capacity building efforts for UPK planning and implementation (EC Section 8281.5). Additionally, COEs will be required to submit the required data questions outlined in the template. If a COE operates a TK and Kindergarten program, it must also develop a UPK Plan and provide the California Department of Education with required data as outlined in the LEA Planning Template. Additional requests for data, including expenditure data, will be outlined in the future.
How much funding will my agency get for the Universal Prekindergarten Planning and Implementation Grant? (Posted 06-May-2022)
  • The link to the estimated funding results are located at Funding Results: Universal Prekindergarten Planning & Implementation Grant.
  • The 2021–22 California state budget includes a minimum base grant to all Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that operate Kindergarten programs determined using the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System Fall 1 Kindergarten enrollment from the 2020–21 certification. Per California Education Code (EC) Section 8281.5(c)(1)(A):
    • For LEAs with an enrollment of 1 to 23 pupils, inclusive, the minimum base grant shall be twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).
    • For LEAs with an enrollment of 24 to 99 pupils, inclusive, the minimum base grant shall be fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).
    • For LEAs with an enrollment of 100 or more pupils, the minimum base grant shall be one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).
  • As provided by EC Section 8281.5, LEAs will receive additional funding based on the number of Kindergarten pupils they served in 2019–20, the total number of those students that were eligible for free- or reduced-price meals, English Learners, or youth in Foster Care.
  • The budget also includes a minimum base grant for each county office of education of $15,000 for each LEA in the county receiving the UPK P&I grant funding to support countywide planning and capacity building. The Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) Planning and Implementation (P&I) Grant funding will be allocated to your district via apportionment. The estimated funding results for the UPK P&I – Countywide Planning and Capacity grant are located on our web page at Funding Results: Universal Prekindergarten Planning & Implementation Grant.
  • EC Section 8281.5 External link opens in new window or tab. outlines a specific formula for determining how much money goes to individual LEAs.
  • Non-classroom-based charter schools with kindergarten enrollment in the years specified in EC Section 8281.5 External link opens in new window or tab. are eligible for funding as long as they offer TK.
  • Please direct any questions regarding this grant to UPKPlanningGrant@cde.ca.gov.
Are non-classroom-based charters eligible for Universal Prekindergarten Planning and Implementation funding? (Posted 27-May-2022)
  • Yes. Although the intent of the $200,000,000 in Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) Planning and Implementation (P&I) funds is to expand access to classroom-based PreKindergarten programs, the legislation does not exclude non-classroom-based charter schools from funding. To the extent that a non-classroom- based charter does have Kindergarten enrollment that meets the statutory requirements set forth in California Education Code (EC) 8281.5, they would receive UPK P&I funding in order to expand or start providing access to Prekindergarten programs.
  • Any non-classroom-based charter schools that receive funding for UPK P&I grants must use the money to develop a plan articulating how all children will have access to full-day learning programs the year before kindergarten that meet the needs of parents, including through partnerships with the local educational agencies expanded learning offerings, the After-School Education and Safety Program, California State Preschool Programs, Head Start programs, and other community-based early learning and care programs.
Do non-classroom based charter schools need to create a plan for Universal Prekindergarten? (New 21-July-2022)

With the adoption of Universal Prekindergarten (UPK), any charter schools that received the UPK Planning and Implementation grant award notification and funding must use the money to develop a plan articulating how all children will have access to full-day learning programs the year before kindergarten that meet the needs of parents, including through partnerships with the local educational agencies expanded learning offerings, the After-School Education and Safety Program, California State Preschool Programs, Head Start Programs, and other community-based early learning and care programs.

Do charter schools not offering Transitional Kindergarten have to return Universal Prekindergarten Planning & Implementation funds allocated pursuant to California Education Code Section 8281.5? (New 21-July-2022)

If charter schools are not offering Transitional Kindergarten and are not creating plans for Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) implementation, they are required to return the UPK Planning & Implementation funding.

What is the process for charter schools to return Universal Prekindergarten Planning & Implementation funds? (New 21-July-2022)

Charter schools must let the California Department of Education (CDE) know of their plans to return Universal Prekindergarten Planning and Implementation funds by sending an email to the CDE at UPKPlanningGrant@cde.ca.gov and advising of this intent.

Teacher Workforce

Are there any penalties if Transitional Kindergarten teachers don’t meet additional statutory requirements by August 1, 2023? (Updated 14-June-2022)
  • The May Revision to the Governor’s January budget for the 2022–23 fiscal year includes additional proposals that could impact this answer. The California Department of Education will update this information after the 2022–23 budget is enacted.
  • Yes, the statute currently provides that a school district or charter school would lose their apportionment if a Transitional Kindergarten (TK) teacher, who is first assigned to teach TK after July 1, 2015, does not meet at least one of the additional requirements imposed by California Education Code (EC) Section 48000(g)(4) by August 1, 2023. These additional requirements include the following:
    1. At least 24 units in early childhood education, or childhood development, or both.
    2. As determined by the local educational agency employing the teacher, professional experience in a classroom setting with preschool age children that is comparable to the 24 units of education described in subparagraph (A).
    3. A child development teacher permit issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
      • Permit options: Child Development Teacher Permit, Child Development Master Teacher Permit, Child Development Site Supervisor Permit, or the Child Development Program Director Permit
What is the impact of Senate Bill 876 (Chapter 687, Statutes of 2014) – California Education Code Section 48000(g) – on Transitional Kindergarten requirements? (Updated 14-June-2022)

Senate Bill 876 added additional requirements for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) teachers. Pursuant to California Education Code (EC) Section 48000(g), a school district or charter school shall ensure that credentialed teachers who are first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015, have, by August 1, 2023, one of the following:

  • At least 24 units in early childhood education, or childhood development, or both.
  • As determined by the local educational agency employing the teacher, professional experience in a classroom setting with preschool age children that is comparable to the 24 units of education described in bullet 1.
  • A child development teacher permit issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).
    • Permit options: Child Development Teacher Permit, Child Development Master Teacher Permit, Child Development Site Supervisor Permit, or the Child Development Program Director Permit.
Any current credentialed teacher who is or was assigned to teach TK, or a combination class of kindergarten and TK, on or before July 1, 2015, is “grandfathered in” to teach TK without having to meet additional requirements. Any credentialed teacher assigned to teach TK, or a combination class of kindergarten and TK, after July 1, 2015, will have until August 1, 2023, to meet the above-mentioned education requirements.

In addition to addressing teacher requirements, EC Section 48000(f) states: “It is the intent of the Legislature that transitional kindergarten curriculum be aligned to the California Preschool Learning Foundations developed by the department.”

Transitional Kindergarten Admission Information

Who is age-eligible for Transitional Kindergarten?
  • In 2022–23, Transitional Kindergarten (TK) students are eligible if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2
  • In 2023–24, TK students are eligible if they turn 5 between September 2 and April 2
  • In 2024–25, TK students are eligible if they turn 5 between September 2 and June 2
  • In 2025–26, Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1 of the school year.
However, pursuant to Assembly Bill 167, California Education Code (EC) Section 48000(c)(2)(A), a school district or charter school may, at any time during a school year (including at the beginning of the school year) admit a child to a TK program who will have his or her fifth birthday after December 2 but during that same school year, with the approval of the parent or guardian, if the governing board of the school district or the governing body of the charter school determines that the admittance is in the best interests of the child and the parent or guardian is given information regarding the advantages and disadvantages and any other explanatory information about the effect of this early admittance. Average Daily Attendance (ADA) can be claimed for these students once they attain the age of five (ECSection 48000[c][2][B]).
Are waiting lists allowed for Transitional Kindergarten classes? (Posted 27-May-2022)?

All school districts are required to provide Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to age-eligible children, which for 2022–23 are all children who will have their fifth birthday according to the mandated implementation schedule as found in California Education Code (EC) Section 48000(c)(1).

  • Although demographics and class size restrictions may prevent parents/guardians from enrolling their children in their neighborhood or other specific school within a school district, no age-eligible child may be denied access to TK by being placed on a waiting list. While local education officials may need a day or two to identify an available TK classroom, the district must provide the name(s) of available schools with a TK classroom. Parents or guardians may discuss school choice options with district officials.
  • Note: Children are not required to attend Kindergarten or TK, however in California, children are subject to compulsory full-time education beginning at age six (EC Section 48200). Lastly, every county office of education, district, and charter school governing board is required to have established local complaint policies that describe the procedures that must be followed to resolve complaints. Copies of complaint policies and procedures are available at the local educational agency site. Complaints about TK against a district, school, principal, teacher, or school personnel are not within the jurisdiction of the California Department of Education. Each local district governing board has ultimate authority over general education processes.
Can a Local Educational Agency meet the Transitional Kindergarten offering requirement through a vendor? (New 21-July-2022)

No. California Education Code (EC) establishes criteria that must be met in order for attendance for apportionment to generate average daily attendance (ADA). One criteria is the supervision of students by a certificated employee of the local educational agency. Below are the requirements for attendance generation in different instructional settings.

Classroom-Instruction (School Districts and County Offices of Education [COEs])

  • For attendance generated through classroom-instruction, EC Section 46300(a) requires that a student must be under the immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of a school district or a county office of education.

Classroom-Instruction (Charter Schools)

  • For attendance generated through classroom-instruction, EC Section 47612.5(e) requires that a student must be under the immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of the charter school.

Independent Study (School districts, COEs, and Charter Schools)

  • For attendance generated through independent study instruction, EC Section 51747.5(a) requires that the supervising teacher coordinating and evaluating the work product be a certificated employee of a school district, charter school, or county office of education.
Can a school district contract or enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with another Local Educational Agency to operate its Transitional Kindergarten Program? (New 21-July-2022)

Pursuant to California Education Code (EC) Section 46300(a) a school district can contract with a county office of education to provide instruction to its students and the district can claim the average daily attendance (ADA). However, a school district cannot claim ADA by contracting with another school district or charter school.

Transitional Kindergarten Program Information

Do charters have to offer Transitional Kindergarten? (New 21-July-2022)

No. Charter schools are not required to offer Transitional Kindergarten. The California Department of Education’s position was previously expressed differently.

Do nonclassroom-based charter schools need to meet the new student/adult ratios or the independent study ratio? (New 21-July-2022)
  • If offering an in-person Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program, the nonclassroom-based charter school must meet the new student and adult ratio requirements as set forth in California Education Code (EC) Section 48000(g).
  • If offering an independent study TK program, the nonclassroom-based charter school must calculate an independent study ratio as set forth in EC sections 51745.6 and 51749.5.
  • For more information regarding the independent study ratio calculations and instruction for performing the calculations please refer to Independent Study Ratio Calculations.
What is the ratio for Transitional Kindergarten during recess and lunch? (Posted 27-May-2022)

The statute requires that starting July 1, 2022, a school district or charter school shall maintain an average ratio of at least one adult (which may be the teacher) for every 12 pupils during instructional time, which for Transitional Kindergarten students at a school district includes recess if students are engaged in educational activities required of them and under the immediate control and supervision of a certificated employee (California Education Code Section 46115). The law is silent with respect to whether the ratio must be maintained during lunch and recess that is not being counted towards instructional time.

Can a charter school offer Transitional Kindergarten as part of an independent study program? (Posted 27-May-2022)

Yes. However, the independent study program that the local educational agency is providing would have to meet the requirements of independent study in order to be eligible for funding (Article 5.5 of Chapter 5 of Part 28 of the California Education Code [EC], commencing with EC Section 51745).

Can an age-eligible student who is not toilet trained be enrolled into Transitional Kindergarten? (Updated 14-June-2022)

A school district, county office of education, or charter school must offer Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten classes for all age-eligible children to attend. Addressing the needs of a non-toilet-trained age-eligible TK student is a local school district decision. If the child has an individualized education program (IEP), accommodations should be addressed in the IEP meeting.

Are there any penalties if we don’t meet the Transitional Kindergarten classroom ratio? (Updated 14-June-2022)
  • The May Revision to the Governor’s January budget for the 2022–23 fiscal year includes additional proposals that could impact this answer. The California Department of Education will update this information after the 2022–23 budget is enacted.
  • Yes, the statute currently provides that a school district or charter school would lose their apportionment if the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) classroom enrollment limit or adult/pupil ratio are not met. California Education Code (EC) Section 48000(g) provides
  • As a condition of receipt of apportionment for pupils in a TK program pursuant to Section 46300, a school district or charter school shall do all of the following:
    • Maintain an average transitional kindergarten class enrollment of not more than 24 pupils for each school site.
    • Commencing with the 2022–23 school year, maintain an average of at least one adult for every 12 pupils for TK classrooms.
    • Commencing with the 2023–24 school year, and for each year thereafter, maintain an average of at least one adult for every 10 pupils for TK classrooms, contingent upon an appropriation of funds for this purpose.

Instructional Minute Information

Is there a specific number of instructional minutes required for Transitional Kindergarten? (Updated 21-July-2022)

Both school districts and charter schools have to meet the annual instructional minutes requirements. The annual instructional minutes requirement for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) is 36,000 minutes per year (California Education Code [EC] sections 46207 and 47612.5).

  • For school districts, the maximum school day in kindergarten is 4 hours (EC Section 46111). There are two exceptions to this statute which allow schools that have adopted an early primary program (extended-day kindergarten) (EC Section 8973), and schools in which students are participating in an Expanded Learning Opportunity Program (EC Section 46120), to exceed 4 hours. In general, the minimum length of instructional time that must be offered to constitute a school-day is 180 minutes (EC sections 46114 and 46117). Pursuant to EC Section 46208, school districts must offer 180 or more days of instruction per school-year unless a school operates on a multitrack year-round schedule, in which case it must offer at least 163 days.
    • With the exception of instances of school closures prompted by an emergency, EC Section 37202(a) requires that elementary school programs operated by a school district must be of equal length of day, and this would include any TK and kindergarten programs operated by the school district. EC Section 37202(b) provides an exception to this rule whereby a school district may operate TK and kindergarten classes, either within the district or at the same school site, for different lengths of time without a waiver if the school district is operating an Early Primary Program pursuant to EC Section 8973. For further information about Early Primary Programs please visit Kindergarten in California - Elementary.
  • Charter schools do not have a minimum number of minutes that must be offered each school-day, although they do have to offer 175 days and a total of 36,000 instructional minutes to meet the annual days and minutes requirements for TK and kindergarten pursuant to EC sections 47612(d)(3) and 47612.5, and California Code of Regulations, Title 5 Section 11960.


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Questions:   Charter Schools Division | charters@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-6029
Last Reviewed: Thursday, August 18, 2022
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