Charter Schools Have A Chance To Obtain Surplus Property

September 19, 2012

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In California, charter schools not only receive less funding than traditional public schools, many also face challenges simply acquiring facilities. In fact, charters across the state are in significant need of long-term facilities solutions. The budget that Governor Jerry Brown signed earlier this summer included a plan to require school districts to offer charter schools across the state any building that it decides it no longer needs.

Read our News Release on Governor Brown's Budget.

In the past, school districts have identified what is known as "surplus property", and put it up for sale. The 2012 Education Trailer Bill SB 1016--which added Education Code Section 17457.5--gives charter schools the right of first refusal of property a school district deems as "surplus property" and is seeking to sell or lease, if the property is designed to provide direct instruction or instructional support. This opens up new options for charter schools, since the space is already designed for instructional purposes, and it generally must be offered by the school district at less than market rates.

This new law only applies to property identified by a school district as surplus property after July 1, 2012 by school districts, and sunsets (expires) on June 30, 2013.

Only charter schools that send a written request to a school district may be eligible to access distinct surplus property. We strongly advise charter schools with facilities needs to submit written requests to the school districts asking to be notified of surplus property opportunities.

CCSA has drafted a sample letter for this purpose.

A charter school that submits a request for notice of surplus property has no obligation to accept facilities the school district offers. However, there are requirements and restrictions that charter schools should be aware of, including:

  • The law specifies the determination of the price at which a surplus property may be leased or sold to a charter school which will likely result in "below fair market value" rates for the charter school.
  • The sold or leased property must be used by the charter school for direct instruction or instructional support for a period of not less than five years.
  • The charter school must respond to the district's offer within 60 days and, if more than one charter school responds, the district may decide which school gets it.

For more information, see our Facilities Surplus Property Guidance web page.

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