February 2015 CEO Message
February 23, 2015 There is no denying the demand for charter public schools in California. Almost 550,000 students attend nearly 1,200 charter schools across the state. As our charter school movement continues to build momentum, the need for improved facilities solutions also increases.
Every year, dozens of charter schools in California request facilities from their districts in order to offer space to incoming students and accommodate growth. The Proposition 39 (Prop. 39) application cycle is well underway this year. Right now districts are reviewing preliminary offers, and charter schools must respond to proposals by March 1. Be sure to take advantage of the variety of Prop. 39 resources available for members.
Given the complexities of Prop. 39 and the implementing regulations, it is inevitable that disputes arise between school districts and charter schools regarding their obligations and rights to facilities.
In May 2010, CCSA first filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) challenging the District's stance on Prop. 39. In another milestone in this legal battle, the California Supreme Court held Oral Argument on February 4 in our case against the district's failure to make lawful Prop. 39 facilities offers. This is the last step before the California Supreme Court will issue its decision, which we expect to happen within 90 days of the February 4 Oral Argument. Learn more about the Association's lawsuit against LAUSD.
Access to appropriate school facilities continues to be one of the greatest challenges charter schools face. CCSA strongly supports Governor Brown's proposal in the 2015-16 Budget to appropriate $50 million to expand the SB 740 program and reduce the Free and Reduced Price Lunch threshold to 55%, in line with the unduplicated pupil count under LCFF.
The SB 740 Facility Grant Program is one the most successful programs for charter schools to date. However, it creates permanent tenancy as the program only allows charter schools to lease rather than purchase property. That is why CCSA also supports the expansion of the program to allow charter schools to use SB 740 funds for debt service repayment. This increased flexibility would allow charter schools to have more stable and longer term facilities options.
As you know, we are still in the early stages of the state budget process. But we intend to do all we can to deliver a strong message to legislators about our key budget priorities, including SB 740. We urge members to watch for budget related Action Alerts from CCSA in the coming weeks as we depend on your support at the Capitol.
I invite you to explore our varied programming available at our upcoming 22nd Annual California Charter Schools Conference March 16-19, 2015 in Sacramento. We have an entire strand dedicated to facilities, including the ongoing work at the local and state level to ensure access to high quality, affordable, long term facilities options for all charter schools. I also encourage you to take advantage of the pre-conference workshops being offered on Monday, March 16 of Conference.
I look forward to seeing many of you at Conference, when we will also announce the winners of the One Movement. Many Voices. Video Contest.
President and CEO
California Charter Schools Association