Legislative Update: The Bill Cycle Begins Again

March 22, 2013

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February 22 was the last day for legislators to introduce legislation for the 2013 year. All of the introduced bills will now be vetted through multiple policy committees, have their cost analyzed by fiscal committees and be voted on by both houses of the legislature. If, and that is a big if, they make it that far, it is still up to Governor Brown to sign or veto each bill.

There were 2,365 bills introduced - one of the lowest numbers, believe it or not, in recent years. Charter school supporters know that we have seen increasing numbers of anti-charter school bills introduced, even with Governor Brown's steadfast support of retaining our flexibility and autonomy. So it is with guarded optimism that we note there are fewer anti-charter school bills right now than at this time in prior years. However, legislative shenanigans still occur, and we expect there to be late amendments and changes to bills that would impact charter schools. CCSA is closely monitoring all education legislation to make sure charter school interests are protected.

In addition to the charter school bills mentioned below, there are myriad education bills, ranging from school safety legislation to bills to delay or reduce California's assessments. Many of these bills will not make it through the bill cycle, but instead one or two bills on each topic will likely emerge as the vehicle for that issue in the 2013 session.

As committee hearings begin, below are some key bills that would impact charter schools if they were enacted:

  • AB 377 (Grove R) Independent study average daily attendance (ADA). Would allow an online/virtual charter school to receive ADA payments for students anywhere in the state.
  • AB 913 (Chau D) Governance requirements. Would apply various open meeting, public record, and conflict of interest requirements to charter schools.
  • AB 917 (Bradford D) Petition Signatures. Would require that a conversion charter petition be signed by at least ½ of the total number of combined teachers and classified employees.
  • AB 1032 (Gordon D) Facility Disputes. Would provide school facilities disputes that arise out of Proposition 39 requirements to seek resolution through mediation prior to seeking relief in a court of law.
  • AB 1086 (Morrell R) Financial Reports. Would carve out a new 15-day window for districts to review charter school budgets before passing them on to county offices of education. In effect, this bill would delay the due date from districts to the county offices of education to allow charter schools their allotted time to prepare and approve the school budget.
  • AB 1159 (Blumenfield D) Pupil Achievement Data. This bill requires the CDE to provide authorizers, in accordance with pupil privacy laws, individual pupil achievement data for the authorizer's charter schools.
  • SB 49 (Lieu D) School Safety Plans. Would require more detail to the existing petition requirement that charter schools establish procedures to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff.
  • SB 379 (Hancock D) School Attendance: Early and Middle College High Schools. Reduces the minimum instructional time requirements for charter schools that operate as early college high schools to reflect the instructional minutes the students are receiving at public colleges.

Finally, CCSA is sponsoring legislation, AB 948 (Olsen R), to expand eligibility for the SB 740 Charter School Facility Grant Program. Currently this program offsets specific lease costs for charter schools that serve a pupil population of which 70 percent or greater are eligible for free and reduced priced meals (FRPM), or are located in an elementary school attendance area that serves a pupil population of which 70 percent or greater are eligible for FRPM.

CCSA is sponsoring this legislation to ensure that more charter schools can access these critical funds. The bill would lower the threshold for eligibility to schools below 70 percent of pupil population eligible for FRPM if there are funds are available to do so, and allow "nonclassroom-based" schools to participate in the program, along with other clarifying changes to the eligibility and administration of the program.

Please bookmark ccsa.org/capitol and read future issues of the Capitol Update for information on these bills and how you can be involved in protecting charter schools in Sacramento.

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