Region Overview: San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties


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Spanning San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties, the greater San Diego region is home to more than 123 charter schools. Together these schools provide a variety of choices to families-- including independent study, project based learning, college preparatory, international baccalaureate, and German Chinese and Spanish Immersion, just to name a few. Our largest concentration of charter schools is in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), which is home to 50 charter schools.


Some schools have long histories of performance and support to students in the region while others are newly beginning to serve students in the region. While challenges still remain for charter schools in San Diego and the surrounding areas, there have been many important successes as well. There are also a number of exciting charter school activities in the region that are illustrating the positive impact that charter schools are making in providing high-quality education to students.

Growth and Performance

Fact Sheet: San Diego Charter Schools

Orange County Elected Officials, Community Leaders and Charter Leaders Come Together for Students
With the 2014 election of Linda Lindholm to the Orange County Board of Education and the creation of a partnership between ChartersOC and CCSA, Orange County has become one of the most exciting environments to improve educational opportunity and options for students. Currently only 2% of the counties over 500,000 students attend charter schools in Orange County, but with the community calling for action, at least two new charter schools will open in 2015-16 and at least 10 charter schools are in the petition process or approved to begin operation in 2016-17. Additionally, the Orange County Board of Education has sent a strong signal of support for charter schools to local authorizing districts in Orange County with the unanimous approval of Vista Heritage Middle Charter Schools appeal after denial from Santa Ana Unified School District.

Albert Einstein Middle School and Classical Academies High School Open New Facilities
While providing high quality facilities to serve the large waiting list of students who want to attend charter schools in San Diego County remains a large financial and operational issue for charter school leaders, Albert Einstein Middle School and Classical Academies High School opened new facilities in 2015. These projects continue to demonstrate the ability for effective charter leaders to find opportunities to effectively and efficiently use their passion to provide students with effective instruction and high quality classrooms.

San Diego Unified School District Passage of Proposition Z - Local School Facilities Bond
In November of 2012, the San Diego Unified School District in partnership with CCSA and the charter community passed a $2.8 billion dollar school facilities bond. As part of that funding, charter schools were allocated a percentage of the bond proceeds for charter school specific projects, and a seven member committee of charter community members was created to act as the body to make recommendations on how the currently estimated $350 million dollars of charter school funding should be spent. Charter school projects totaling $66 million are currently under construction and the seven member committee has recommended another $200 million of projects that were designed for charter schools and will be completed for charter schools.

El Sol Santa Ana Science and Arts Academy, Santa Ana Unified School District
The El Sol Santa Ana Science and Arts Academy broke ground in 2013 to build a new facility to provide higher quality facilities to their students by replacing portables. This project is the culmination of a partnership with the community and the school district to use multiple funding sources. This would not have been possible without a partnership with the school district to allow for a 40-year lease on the property.

e3 Civic High Opens September 2013, San Diego Unified School District
The new downtown San Diego Central Library is home to an innovative educational experience for high school students in San Diego. e3 opened in September 2013 on the sixth and seventh floors of library. The school will focus on ensuring that all students are prepared for college, career, and civic engagement. This unique setting in downtown San Diego will allow students to utilize the resources of a state of the art library in the downtown business center where partnerships, internships and civic activities are prevalent.

Contact Miles Durfee, Managing Regional Director, Southern California for more information about the region.

Start a Charter in San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties

As CCSA's designated School Development and Support representative for the area, Jennifer Reiter-Cook understands the unique charter school landscape you face and can support you with the necessary skills and resources to start a high-quality charter school. Learn more.

Regional Links

For more information about some of the charter authorizers in the Greater San Diego region, check out links to:

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