Momentum Continues for California Charter School Growth

October 29, 2017

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October 30, 2017


Momentum Continues for California Charter School Growth

One out of 10 Students Now Attends a Charter School

(Sacramento, California) - The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) announced today that an estimated 630,000 students are enrolled in 1,275 charter public schools in California for the 2017-18 school year. This year 65 new school equivalents opened across the state, including 56 new startups and replications, and nine planned significant expansions of existing schools.

"Charter school growth in California remains strong and we are encouraged to see that much of that growth is led by several of the state's highest performing charter schools replicating," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO of CCSA. "These schools have proven academic achievement and experience in navigating the start-up process, setting them up for success from the start."

The 65 new school equivalents added about 10,900 new students to the total number enrolled in California charter schools (10,100 in the 56 new startups/replications, and 800 in the nine planned significant expansions). Together with the student growth in existing charter schools, there is a total estimated increase of about 27,000 students in California charter schools for 2017-18 compared to 2016-17 (where the total was 602,837 students enrolled in 1,254 charter schools).

Planned significant expansions (such as a K-5 elementary charter school adding the equivalent of a new middle school by expanding to serve grades 6-8, or a school doubling their seat capacity in current grades) are not a new phenomenon. However, the proportion of growth in California charter schools coming from these planned significant expansions has increased substantially in the last few years, such that it now makes sense to track them separately and count them as new school equivalents. Wallace added, "Significant expansion is another testament to charter demand, and more schools are choosing to grow this way due to local political pressure, continuity of enrollment, maximizing facilities options, and parent demand."

In addition to the 65 new school equivalents, there were 11 schools that opened as a result of the Anderson Union HSD v Shasta ruling. The case impacted nonclassroom-based charter schools operating resource centers outside of the school district in which it is authorized but within the same county. When the California Supreme Court refused to hear the case in early 2017, many nonclassroom-based resource centers were forced to close or re-petition as a new charter school. "Although these schools will be assigned new charter numbers by the California Department of Education, CCSA decided to separate them in our annual count since most were in existence last year as resource centers," explained Elizabeth Robitaille, CCSA Senior Vice President, Achievement and Performance Management. "However, while these former resource centers may not necessarily add many new students in their first year as standalone charter schools, now that they operate as independent schools, these schools may be more likely to grow in future years."

There were 46 charter schools that closed last year. Six of these were affiliated with the Anderson Union HSD v Shasta ruling. California still remains the state with the greatest number of charter public schools, and the most students enrolled in charters, anywhere in the country. This school year, the Los Angeles region had the largest charter school growth with 18 new charters opening. The second largest growth area is in the Bay Area region with 11 new charters.

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