September 2013 Message to Members from Jed Wallace

September 26, 2013

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JedWallaceSmall.jpg I hope you have had a great start to the 2013-14 school year. Here at the Association, we continue to be greatly impressed by the huge impact that charter schools are making in communities across the state. While final numbers aren't quite in, we do know that we have had another year of strong growth, with over 100 charter schools opening this fall. One of the aspects of the job I enjoy the most is getting to visit many of our new charter schools. Whether it was touring the E3 facility in the new downtown library in San Diego with Executive Director Dr. Helen Griffith, sharing the stage with school founders Susan Samueli and Sandi Jackson as well as the school's Board Chair Bruce Fetter during the ribbon cutting ceremony at The Academy in Santa Ana, or being on hand to see Mark Zuckerberg address incoming students at the new KIPP High School in downtown San Francisco (to name but three), this year we have seen charter schools open that appear destined to change the way charter schools are seen in communities across California, enlisting even more supporters from many walks of life into our movement.

This year, what is adding to the sense of momentum behind the development of new charter schools in California is the growing awareness of the extent to which the passage of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is positively affecting the economics of newly opening charter schools. Since the onset of the state's funding crisis in 2008, new and growing charter schools were among the most fiscally disadvantaged public schools in the state, being frozen out of receiving a wide range of categorical funding streams and having few borrowing options to overcome state deferrals. Now, though, the situation has changed because the LCFF pegs newly opening charter schools funding rates to that of their surrounding district, which in most cases results in per pupil funding rates that are significantly higher than what was available under the state's prior funding system. As examples, I point to Green Dot's new school in South Central Los Angeles being scheduled to receive $1,500 more per pupil than it would have received had it opened last year, Key Academy in Hayward receiving $837 more per student and Kepler Neighborhood in Fresno scheduled to receive $605 more per student. The impact that LCFF is having on new school openings varies considerably depending on where developers intend to operate, and we would encourage all school developers to be in contact with our School Development Team in order to learn details specific to your region. Meanwhile, more broadly, now is the moment to get the word out to potential school developers that the economics behind opening new charter schools in California has never been brighter.

And yet, in spite of all the momentum that charter schools have in regions across California, we still see that charter schools face great levels of challenge on the advocacy front. Whether it is the school board in Los Angeles passing resolutions designed to roll back the rights of charter school students under Proposition 39, whether it is CALPERs attempting to deny classified workers at newly opening charter schools the right to participate in public retirement programs as is explicitly allowed within state charter school law, or whether it is Senate leaders refusing to allow CCSA's bill to expand eligibility to the 740 Facilities Funding program to be advanced to the Senate Floor, we see that charter school students and employees often receive simply unacceptable treatment.

That is why we are greatly encouraged to see the level of engagement from our members to the opportunities that there are to get involved in the Association's ongoing advocacy efforts. Whether it is school leaders from across the state choosing to get involved in our new Capitol Advocacy Leaders (CAL) program, charter school teachers getting involved in the new network of teachers CCSA is putting together to support advocacy efforts, or charter school operators attending our regional meetings to provide input about our future legislative priorities, we here at the Association continue to be greatly impressed by the dedication our members show to helping ensure that the advocacy strength of our movement continues to grow.

Once again, I wish you all the best for 2013-14 and look forward to another year of great progress and momentum on behalf of all of the students attending California's remarkable charter schools.

Jed Wallace
President and CEO
California Charter Schools Association

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