Assembly Republican Leader-Elect Kristin Olsen announced that Assembly Bill 948 passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this week. If passed, this bill will reform the 2001 Senate Bill 740, or Charter School Facility Grant Program, in order to make more schools eligible for financial support for facilities.
“Students and educators need and deserve safe and reliable school facilities. We are thrilled that AB 948 passed off of suspense in the Senate Appropriations Committee, paving the way for more charter schools that serve low-income students to have access to funding for facilities,” said President and CEO of California Charter Schools Association Jed Wallace.
Charter schools do not have the same resources available to traditional public schools when it comes to securing facilities. Advocates hope that with its passing, the bill will reform SB 740 in order to make providing facilities for charter schools more feasible.
Currently, the SB 740 has rather stringent qualifications for schools that want to benefit for the program’s financial support. Schools must provide classroom-based educational programs and must not receive facilities from school districts or county offices of education. In addition, qualified schools must be located within the attendance area of a public elementary school and must serve a student population in which more than 70 percent of students are eligible for the federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch program.
“It doesn’t make any sense that State law already requires budget allocation for the SB 740 program, yet does not allow for full use of the allocated money,” Assemblymember Olsen said. “Charter schools are an essential part of our public education system—especially those in low-income areas. We must elevate every resource we have available to support local leaders in their efforts to teach our kids.”
If passed, AB 948 would allow schools that have less than 70 percent of FPRL eligible students to apply as long as there are still funds available. Once all the applicants that meet the previous SB 740 are accommodated, the threshold of eligibility will be reduced at one percent increments, until it reaches the new brink at 60 percent.
Now that it has passed the Senate Committee on Appropriations, AB 948 will be taken up for a vote on the Senate Floor before the end of the month.