New Facilities Survey Initiative

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September 17, 2012 CCSA recently launched a new initiative, the Charter School Facilities Initiative, a comprehensive analysis of the issues and challenges facing California's charter schools and their access to affordable, adequate facilities. The objective of the survey is to gather concise data about charter school facilities to foster a policy environment that improves support for the diverse facilities needs of charter schools across the state.

A team of facilities and finance experts have developed an online questionnaire that schools will receive via email during the week of October 29 (updated). The survey takes about 45 minutes to complete. The early-bird deadline for entry in a drawing for prizes is Wednesday, November 14 and the final deadline is Friday, December 14 (updated).

Charter school laws across the country place the burden of obtaining and paying for facilities on the charter schools themselves. As a result, charter schools often struggle to find suitable and affordable facilities, and charter leaders routinely identify facilities as one of their top challenges of running a school.

Recently, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana and Texas have commissioned a comprehensive charter school facility study in their states. The results of the project have provided hard evidence and disturbing findings about charter school access to adequate facilities, many of which share a similar theme, such as:

  • Charter schools are the only public schools forced to spend operating revenue on facilities.
  • Many charter schools have limited capacity to serve federally-subsidized meals for students from lower-income families.
  • Charter school facilities are too small in comparison to relevant standards.
  • State grant funding for public school facilities has provided insufficient benefit for charters.
  • Local and state capital funding programs are not a significant source of funding for charter school facilities.
  • Not all districts are willing to share unused land or facilities with charter schools.
  • Physical education and recreational options are limited for charter school students.

As evidenced above, charter schools across the nation struggle with inadequate and costly facilities. Based in part on policy gains in other states following the publication of survey results, California has decided to follow suit and is participating in a national charter school facilities initiative. The collective results of the survey will be used to help effect change around charter school facility access and funding at both a state and national level. In California, we expect to use data from this survey to further hone our advocacy strategies, provide data to support our advocacy efforts, and improve the outcomes of our efforts to reform SB 740, Prop 39, and California State Charter School Facilities Program (Prop 47, 55, 1-D).

Hard data is much more effective than anecdotal data when it comes to convincing law makers to provide charter schools with equitable access to facilities. As such, we need all charter schools in California to participate in this important survey so that we can enter the next legislative session armed with powerful evidence to show that public charter school students are not receiving access to the facilities they deserve in order to receive the best education possible.

Please contact the Project Manager, Dion Jackson directly for more information about the survey at (213) 244-1446 x242 or djackson@ccsa.org.

Please be sure to take action when you receive our email!