Last week the California legislature finished their Budget Subcommittee hearings on the Governor’s revision to his January budget proposal. The Governor’s charter school proposals, while not totally intact, all survived the hearings and are now headed to be deliberated in the budget conference committee. The conference committee will begin meeting this week in an effort to ‘iron’ out the differences between the Assembly and Senate in their budget recommendations. Once the conference committee has adopted a final product it will head to both houses of the legislature for a final vote with June 15th being the deadline to pass a budget before legislators start to get docked paychecks. For charter schools: extending the Governor’s proposal to allow them first refusal of school district surplus property, fixing the issues around county-wide charter schools, expanding the SB 740 program to include non-classroom based charters and changing the funding determination process for non-classroom based charter schools will all be before the conference committee. Both houses have already adopted the proposal to move the Charter School Facility Grant Program and the Charter School Revolving Loan Program from the California Department of Education to the California School Finance Authority in the State Treasurer’s Office. This means that the Governor has kept his strong commitment to charter schools, charter school funding and is fighting hard to address their concerns.
Also of interest to charter schools will be how the Governor’s Local Control Funding Formula will be implemented. Both the State Assembly and State Senate have their own versions of the Governor’s funding formula that they would like to implement but the Governor, while willing to negotiate, is still pushing the general concept and premise of his proposal: that district’s and charters in harder to serve communities get more dollars from the state than other districts. For charter schools the Governor’s plan means an immediate boost in funding since for the first time in the state’s history they would be funded, through the base grant, the same as school districts. This will wipe away an inequity in funding that the Legislative Analyst identified in a study of charter school funding last year. To view the study go to http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2012/edu/charter-schools/charter-schools-012612.pdf.