Revenue Sources for Your School
Explore the major funding opportunities available to charter schools, requirements for receiving funding, funding timelines and estimated funding amounts.
Charter School Funding
Revenue Sources for your School This section outlines the major funding opportunities available to charter schools, requirements for receiving funding, funding timelines and estimated funding amounts. We will address
- Apportionment Funding: Block Grants
- Other Grants (including major funding sources such as Title I, PCSGP etc)
- Accessing Local Funds (Fundraising)
Apportionment Funding: The two primary revenue sources for charter Schools
Charter schools receive state funding through two block grants--the general purpose block grant (based on state averages per grade levels) and the categorical block grant (funding in lieu of other state categorical programs). Charter schools can also access non-block grant funding via federal programs, and via any state programs not included in the categorical block grant, unless explicitly prohibited from applying by Education Code, Section 47634.4.
The general purpose block grant is based on the state average district revenue limit by grade level. All charters receive the same rate per grade level, but this rate does not consider variances in costs of living or revenue limits from district to district. The funding is allocated based on average daily attendance (ADA). More detailed information about the general purpose block grant is available here.
The categorical block grant is based on ADA, covers 25 state-funded programs and can be used as unrestricted funding "in lieu" of participation in specified programs. A separate application is not required for charter schools to access this funding source. The base funding amount is $500 and additional funds are available for eligible EIA pupils (i.e. English learners and economically disadvantaged students). More detailed information about the categorical block grant is available here.
Charter schools may choose between two funding methods:
- Direct-funded charter schools are deemed an LEA (Local Educational Agency), so state funding goes directly to the charter school.
- Locally funded charter schools apply and receive their funding from the sponsoring district.
A charter school can only change its status for the following year on the Annual Funding Survey due to the CDE each spring. Changing status mid-year is not allowed. (Access the most recent Funding Survey information here.)
While block grant funding rates do not vary based on this decision, non-block grant funding may vary considerably.
Clarification on ADA
Charter schools may NOT split or share ADA (Average Daily Attendance) apportionment with other charters or traditional public schools. A single student can only generate ADA for one LEA. There is no option under the Education Code for a charter school to share the ADA generated by a single student.
There could, however, be a fee-for-service arrangement between two schools or LEAs. A charter school could enter into a contract or an MOU to pay for the services of another LEA. This would be regarded as an inter-district transfer of funds.
Receiving Credit for Emergency Days When Determining ADA
The Education Code allows the State Superintendent of Public School Instruction to authorize ADA credit for the days that schools are closed due to emergencies. Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), including direct-funded charter schools, may receive ADA credit and instructional time credit for the days and minutes lost due to an emergency closure. Approval can be obtained by submitting three copies of Form J-13A: Request for Allowance of Attendance Because of Emergency Conditions.
To prevent mandatory school closures from reducing ADA, charter schools should deduct the emergency days from their total days in the reporting period. Thus, schools report their ADA only for those days in which they actually operated classes, and do not include the zero attendance days during the closure.
Charter schools and other LEAs will be credited with the emergency days to meet their minimum attendance requirements and receive full funding.
Attendance Requirements for Receiving Apportionment Credit
According to the School Fiscal Services Division of the CDE, California Education Code (EC) Section 46300(a) states the requirements of the "time" that counts towards crediting apportionment--the student must be under the "immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of the district" and "doing educational activities required of them." A student that never enters the classroom with the intent to perform educational activities does not generate apportionment credit.
The law also provides that a student who is present for any portion of the instructional school day generates apportionment credit. However, the student would have to be in compliance with EC Section 46300(a).
Charter schools must open by September 30 in order to receive state funding for ADA. Education Code 47652 (c) which states, "A charter school in its first year of operation may only commence instruction within the first three months of the fiscal year beginning July 1 of that year. A charter school shall not be eligible for an apportionment pursuant to subdivision (a), or any other apportionment for a fiscal year in which instruction commenced after September 30 of that fiscal year."
Members have asked: Reducing Instructional Days
Can charter schools reduce the number of instructional days they offer from 175 to 170 and still receive full apportionment?
Yes. According to the School Fiscal Services Division of the CDE, it was initially unclear if charter schools could reduce the number of instructional days to 170 without a reduction in apportionment per Title 5, CCR, Section 11960(b). The CDE, therefore, suggested that charter schools interested in reducing their days should obtain a State Board of Education waiver. Subsequently, the CDE has opined that a charter school can reduce its number of instructional days for fiscal years 2009-10 through 2012-13 and still receive full apportionment. A waiver is no longer required to reduce the number of days to 170. If a charter school reduces the number of instructional days below 170, then the apportionment would be proportionately reduced. Learn more on the CDE website.
Major Grants for Charter Schools
This section outlines the major funding opportunities available to charter schools, requirements for receiving funding, funding timelines and estimated funding amounts.
Many grants are available to charter schools, through federal and state programs as well as private foundations and philanthropic organizations. The grants listed here are some of the most important, and those which almost all charter schools should apply for.
Note: Charter schools apply for all the Title I-V programs listed below through the Consolidated Funding Application.
Funding to: (1) maintain existing before and after school program programs; and (2) provide eligibility to all elementary and middle schools that submit quality applications to start new before and after school programs throughout CaliforniaPublished December 9, 2014. Last Modified December 9, 2014
Provided in lieu of separate funding for specific categorical programs, and in an amount per unit of average daily attendance in specified grade level spans.Published August 9, 2011. Last Modified August 9, 2011
Funding to support the acquisition, renovation or construction of charter school facilities, or to support the refinancing of existing charter school facility debt.Published July 30, 2012. Last Modified July 30, 2012
Funds for school districts and charter schools that reduce one or more classes to 20 pupils per certificated teacher.Published June 4, 2011. Last Modified June 4, 2011
A categorical program that is included in Part I of the Consolidated Application.Published November 22, 2011. Last Modified November 22, 2011
A program that provides substantial discounts on telecommunications, and Internet and technology products and services for schools and libraries to ensure that all eligible schools and libraries have affordable access to modern telecommunications and information services.Published November 22, 2011. Last Modified November 22, 2011
General-purpose entitlement, provided from a combination of state and local sources, in lieu of revenue limit funding, and in an amount per unit of average daily attendance in specified grade level spans.Published August 9, 2011. Last Modified August 9, 2011
Funding for providing public school choice to students, especially to those who are attending chronically low-performing traditional public schoolsPublished August 5, 2013. Last Modified August 5, 2013
A reimbursement program that assists charter schools located in low income areas with facilities rent and lease expenditures.Published July 30, 2015. Last Modified July 30, 2015
Funding for local educational agencies to help low-achieving students enrolled in the highest poverty schools meet state content standards and assessments.Published July 25, 2011. Last Modified July 25, 2011
A categorical program intended to raise student academic achievement by improving teacher and principal effectiveness, and increasing the number of highly qualified teachers and principals.Published August 2, 2011. Last Modified August 2, 2011
Funding to improve student achievement through the use of technology in elementary and secondary schools.Published August 2, 2011. Last Modified August 2, 2011
Funding to ensure that all limited-English proficient (LEP) students attain English proficiency and meet state and student academic achievement standards.Published August 2, 2011. Last Modified August 2, 2011
Funding for the development of innovative educational programs for students and teachers.Published September 27, 2010. Last Modified September 27, 2010
Charter School Fundraising
Nationwide, charter schools are underfunded. California's funding gap is one of the largest in the country and is even more significant in urban districts. The support of private philanthropy can infuse California charter schools with financial resources to improve quality.
Philanthropists have the unique opportunity to improve access to quality public education by supporting exceptional charter schools. Yet, as the charter school movement continues to gain momentum, access to charitable dollars becomes increasingly more competitive. Because of the growing number of charter schools and the finite resources of philanthropists, charter schools will only stay competitive for these critical funds by demonstrating strong academic outcomes, responsible governance, fiscal accountability and a commitment to continuous improvement.
Loans for Charter Schools
The Association views borrowing funds as a last, but often necessary, option, since the interest and fees a school pays on a loan is money that could be spent in the classroom. However, it is important to have loans or lines of credit available due to cash flow issues caused by increased enrollment, or a downturn in the state economy, until your school has time to build up sufficient reserves.
Before engaging lenders, however, you should be prepared to ask the right questions and to show lenders your school in the best possible light.
Absent collateral or other unusual circumstances, developers' options for a loan are usually limited to the Charter School Revolving Loan Fund.
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