We still have a lot of work to do in Los Angeles to improve our public schools and make sure that every student receives a great education. Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of misinformation about charter schools and co-locations put out there recently, so I wanted to share some more information to help parents and community members understand this issue.
Since 1993, charter schools have been a part of public education in Los Angeles, growing in response to demand from parents. In fact, currently, there are over 10,000 students on charter school wait lists in Los Angeles.
However, one major challenge that charter schools face is finding school facilities. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of charter schools that are co-located at traditional campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which means two public schools sharing the same campus. For instance, the charter school uses a set of classrooms or portables and shares common spaces like the cafeteria and playing fields.
There are currently about 50 co-locations in LAUSD, including some sites where charter schools and district schools work together collaboratively and have a positive relationship. Positive co-locations are generally a result of community support and respect for multiple public school options and school leaders’ asset-oriented mindset around opportunities for collaboration, partnership or simply put, mutually respectful co-habitation.
Charter schools are public schools!
Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools that are open to all students. There are currently 210 charter schools operating within the boundaries of LAUSD, serving more than 80,000 students.
Unlike district public schools, charter schools are not automatically provided facilities.
Instead, they must either request facilities from the local school district or search and pay for a private facility, often at market rates. The California law Proposition 39 requires school districts to make "reasonably equivalent" facilities available to charter schools, and charter schools reimburse the district for their proportionate share of the district’s facilities costs. The principle behind Prop. 39 is very simple – charter school students are public school students and deserve to have access to safe, quality public school facilities in which to learn, just like other public school students.
Charter schools usually do not ask for co-locations.
Charter schools want what any school wants – a permanent home with plenty of space for their students to learn and play. In the fall, they submit a request for facilities to their local school district, which includes, among other things, their attendance projections and a description of the neighborhood where they want to locate. On Feb. 1, the district sends a preliminary offer to schools, proposing facilities for the charter school’s use. In LAUSD, these have generally been offers of co-locations.
The charter school has until March 1 to respond to this proposal with any concerns, and the school may make counter-proposals for different facilities. Charter schools must request facilities each year, unless the district offers multi-year arrangements to the schools. Many districts offer multi-year arrangements in which entire campuses or administrative facilities are allocated to one or more charter schools. Districts and charter schools can also enter into alternative agreements regarding facilities or funding in-lieu of facilities.
This is not and should not be about “Us vs. Them.” It’s about our kids.
We all agree that all public school students deserve adequate, safe school space to learn and play. Charter schools are an integral part of public school options that are working in Los Angeles. In order to ensure that all students have access to high quality options, it is critical that the entire community embrace reforms that are working—and not pit one against the other.
Find out more about Prop. 39 and how it impact students: http://www.calcharters.org/2010/09/about-proposition-39.html
About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 982 charter public schools and over 412,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. Learn more about charter schools at www.calcharters.or