Last Friday, August 31, the California legislature adjourned for the year, completing their work on several controversial issues in the 2011-12 legislative session. For charter school supporters and advocates, there were a few pieces of legislation that may affect your interests – specifically those which may affect financing California charter schools. All of the following measures are currently on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature or veto.
AB 1594 by Assemblyman Eng mandates charters schools to gradually begin to participate in the Free and Reduced meals program if they have eligible students (though non-classroom based charter schools are exempt.) This bill follows a state-wide audit mandated by legislators to determine whether or not charter schools have been participating in this program.
AB 1811 by Assemblywoman Bonilla deals with conversion charter schools and their funding rates. This has been a long-running issue on which legislation is usually proposed every few years. AB 1811 says that once the school converts into a charter school, it cannot receive more funding than it would have gotten if it continued as a traditional public school. Conversion funding rates are an issue for the state, because some policymakers believe that some schools only converted in order to qualify for the higher level of funding (depending on the grade level span) and ultimately receive more financing for California charter schools from the state.
AB 1919 by Assemblywoman Brownley deals with access to student data and the access to that data by the authorizer. Amendments were taken to ensure that the bill complies with FERPA (and ensure the protection of the student’s and parent’s rights).
SB 1290 by Senator Alquist makes reaching pupil growth targets the most important part of charter school renewal from all of the different subgroup targets. The bill is sponsored by the Department of Education and backed by the US Department of Education. The Federal Government claims that the state has to make the change to continue to be eligible for the charter school start-up grant. This leaves to question whether or not the State Board of Education can draft regulations to make the change, therefore making legislation unnecessary.
To view any of these bills in their entire form visit http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html and type in the bill number in the search bar. For more information about financing California charter schools, visit our blog.