How Are Charter Schools Funded?

California charter schools are publicly funded schools, but HOW they are funded differs from traditional public schools. Money for charter schools comes from four levels: federal, state, local, and private donations. Let’s take a closer look at some of these key differences between charter and traditional public school funding.

State Funding: Per-Pupil Funding

The state of California is the primary source of funding for its charter schools. This funding is based on the Average Daily Attendance (ADA). Almond Acres Charter Academy receives funds based on the number of students attending the school.

The amount per student varies depending on the attendance rates of the school, the student’s grade level, and if the student needs additional support services.

Local Funding: Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)

Charter schools, like other public school in California, receive base funding for each student. However, charter schools usually do not have direct access to local property tax revenues for operational costs, which differs from traditional public schools. Additional grants and funds are given to schools that serve high numbers of students in low-income families, are English learners, or are foster youth.

Federal Funding

There are federal programs that provide supportive funding. Charter schools are occasionally eligible for various programs, such as Title I for low-income students, special education funding (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – IDEA), and other grants. Funds are distributed based on the specific needs of the students and the programs the school offers.

Other Sources of Funding: Donations

Beyond government-sponsored funds, Almond Acres Charter Academy obtains grants and private donations from families, businesses, and organizations.

Disparity in Funding

According to research from The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, California Charter Schools received 25% less per student per year when compared to traditional public schools.

One of the biggest differences between funding for public schools and funding for charter schools is how their facilities are funded. Traditional public schools often receive funding for facilities from local school district bonds while charter schools are forced to secure their own funds for facilities, which is especially challenging and costly.

Almond Acres Charter School’s new school campus was funded through a private bond. 

In Conclusion

While charter schools in California are publicly funded, they do not receive the same funding as traditional public schools. Charter schools subsequently face challenges with funding facilities, have tighter budgets, and rely on support from private donations and grants.

A Guide to Tuition-Free, Public Charter Schools in California

Are you looking at school options for your child in California?

Parents often ask what education options are available for their children in grades K-12.  It can be hard to know what is the correct choice because there are many options available to parents, their local public schools, public charter schools, private schools, and online schools. 

This guide will provide answers to questions like, “What is a tuition-free public school?”,  “What tuition-free public school options are available in California?” and “How do I enroll my student in a charter school?”

If you are looking for answers to questions like these, read on!

backpack and supplies

What is a tuition-free public charter school in California?

A charter school is a public school that provides instruction in any combination of grades, kindergarten through grade twelve. Parents, teachers, or community members may initiate a charter petition, which is typically presented to and approved by a local school district governing board. California Education Code (EC) also allows, under certain circumstances, county boards of education and the State Board of Education to be charter authorizing entities.

Source: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cs/re/qandasec1mar04.asp#q1

Charter schools are public schools that get funding from the state and have greater flexibility in hiring, curriculum, management, and other aspects of their operations. Unlike traditional public schools that are run by school districts with an elected school board and a board-appointed superintendent, most charter schools are run by organizations with their own self-appointed boards.

In general, this independence gives charter schools more room to experiment and to come up with instructional and other innovations.

Source: https://edsource.org/2017/10-things-to-know-about-charter-schools/583984

What tuition-free public charter schools are available for students living in California?

Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) is a K-8 charter school where the education of our students is built on having a strong and inspiring support system in place. We deliver our high-quality service and project-based curriculum via our dedicated and experienced teachers and our we-are-a-family, tight-knit AACA community. 

The California Department of Education also provides a charter school finder on its website for you to search for additional charter school options. 

What other counties and locations in California are served by tuition-free public charter schools in North County and Paso Robles?

Students enrolling in a charter school are not restricted to a certain county or school district. Parents may choose the school that they feel is most appropriate for their child. Charter schools in California must admit any child residing in the state who is qualified to attend California schools regardless of which school district the child resides in.

How do I enroll my child in a tuition-free public charter school?

Charter schools often require an application. Most applications require specific information, including name, address, birth date, name of last school attended, and ethnic background.

If you are considering enrolling your child in a charter school, you should pay close attention to any deadlines regarding that school’s enrollment policy. Some charter schools, particularly those in high demand, will have a waitlist.

Because enrollment policies and procedures vary from school to school, families should contact individual charter schools to obtain specific enrollment information.

Source: http://www.ccsa.org/understanding/families/

Almond Acres Charter Academy is enrolling. Even though the 20-21 school year has begun, we can accept and support new students. 

girl using microscope

What are the requirements for acceptance into a charter school in California?

By law, charter schools cannot have admission processes that unlawfully discriminate against students. Charter schools accept all students who want to attend. If there are more students who want to attend than there are seats available, a charter school will use a process to randomly select students, oftentimes a lottery system.

Source: http://www.ccsa.org/understanding/families/

How much does it cost to attend a charter school in California?

Public charter schools are public schools and are tuition-free. Funding for the schools comes from the state.

Are public charter schools high quality?

Studies continue to show charter school students make greater academic progress than students in traditional public schools. Sixty-seven (67) percent of California’s charter schools met student achievement targets on state tests in the 2009-10 school year compared to just 57% of non-charter schools.

Among traditionally disadvantaged students, those attending charters make greater academic progress than those in traditional public schools. In 2009-10, 74% of charter schools met student achievement targets for disadvantaged students* compared to 59% of non-charter schools. (*these are calculated by assessing the California Department of Education’s “comparable improvement targets”)

California’s charter middle schools consistently demonstrate higher academic performance than non-charter schools. For the past five years, charter middle schools have had higher API Growth scores than non-charter middle schools. In 2009-10, middle school charters outperformed non-charters across the state and with all subgroups.

About AACA

News Update: Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is located in Paso Robles at its newly constructed school site. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body, and soul. We grow great kids! 

Why Choose a Charter School

A charter school is a publicly funded, independently operated public school. Most charter schools are started from the ground up, by a team of passionate educators and parents who see a need in the community and decide to fill it. Charter schools operate under a contract between the school and the state government that outlines how the school will educate students in exchange for public funds. A charter school’s authorization is renewed every five years based on agreed upon expectations for educating students, including state standards and testing.  

Three Almond Acres Charter Academy upper school students smile for the camera.

Mission Driven

Founders of charter schools want to offer students and the community a unique approach to learning. They may choose to focus on college preparation, arts or sciences, or a specific curriculum; the sky’s the limit! The school’s unique mission drives the planning for the school and influences every part of the students’ day. 

Ten years ago, Almond Acres Charter Academy founders began with a powerful vision; to create a school that would be a part of, and continue, the tradition of the local districts, but also have greater flexibility in the delivery of curriculum, fiscal management, and decision making. A school and program of learning that centers the best of interests of children in all decisions was born. Today, Almond Acres has bloomed into a thriving charter school serving K-8 students of the Paso Robles area  – with heart and dedication. 

Student Centered

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all learning. Charter schools are usually centered on the needs of the student, often through a personalized curriculum or specialized offerings. An artistically inclined child can thrive in an arts-centered school, while another child may do best in a school with smaller classes and an emphasis on outdoor education. The ability to find a “just right fit” for your child’s schooling is very appealing. 

Growing Great Kids!

Affirming each for their strengths and struggles,

Stretching positive and productive habits of mind, and

Celebrating the awakening of creativity!

Our simple mission is to put students first. Almond Acres celebrates the uniqueness of each child by designing lessons based on the many ways a child can learn and identifying how children are smart, not just how smart they are. We value students for who they are now and who they hope to become and we take advantage of our small class sizes to build solid, affirming relationships that help students grow into the best version of themselves. 

Freedom to Innovate

Because charter schools are free to choose the best path to success, they can be an exciting hub of innovation and creativity. Highly qualified teachers are often attracted to work at charter schools for a chance to teach in a less restrictive way, with greater creative freedom, or with like-minded teachers and staff. 

In addition to an innovative project based approach, we use research backed practice to teach reading, writing and math fundamentals. Arts and sciences, leadership, technology, and unwavering student support are all included in our curriculum. Our service learning projects connect students to the local community, creating a bridge between schooling and life. And we get kids up and moving throughout the day with physical education and abundant athletic offerings, to strengthen young muscles and hearts.

The exterior of Almond Acres Charter Academy showcases the multiple intelligences with a series of signs and symbols.

Almond Acres teachers are the heart and soul of our school. Our teachers are committed to creative, energetic teaching, and a positive school culture that is modeled by every member of our staff. We teach to the strengths of every learner, including those with 504s and IEPs. 

Community & Size

Parents looking for a small school, where everyone knows their name, often look to charter schools to find a greater sense of community. Many charter schools are born out of a desire to create a like-minded community, where children can safely learn in a way that suits their needs.

Community is at the core of our safe and deliberately small K-8 charter school. At Almond Acres, every child gets personalized attention, caring instructors, and a close-knit academic environment. Communication between teachers and family is frequent.  Special events invite families to our school to celebrate our success and cheer on our growth. We lean on parents as our partners in growing well-rounded children into college-bound students. 

Almond Acres Charter Academy strives to offer excellence, flexibility, and choice in your child’s education. We love our close community and invite your family to experience all our charter school can offer.

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!

What is a Charter School?

Charter schools started about 30 years ago for two main reasons. The first reason was to provide families with an alternative to their neighborhood public school. The second reason was to allow educators to do something different with public education — to be innovative and creative in ways that are new and distinct. 

How Charter Schools Are Different

Charter schools often have smaller classes and readily focus on the individual learning styles of each student. This is certainly the case at Almond Acres Charter School (AACA). Not only do we focus on growing great kids in our small classes, our highly qualified teachers bring unique and intentional lesson plans to our classes each day. Our K-8 charter school uses project-based and service-based learning to instill  a sense of self-confidence.  We help our kids unlock how they’re smart alongside meaningful ways they can contribute to their community. 

girls in front of lockers

Charter schools are public schools that are tuition-free and funded by tax dollars. Charters must meet academic goals in order to have their charters upheld and re-approved. At Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA), we have been chartered  since 2010. 

AACA is a very unique school because they are so encouraging and passionate about everyone.”   AACA student alumni

At AACA, our mission is to grow great kids.  As our Executive Director

Bob Bourgault, or Mr. B as he is affectionately known by our students, says,

 “Our kids are great. We need to grow them…to treat them with respect and dignity to become the very best version of themselves.”

students dressed up

Identifying How You’re Smart

Each AACA child has his or her own mind, their own way of thinking, and is smart in their own way. Almond Acres charter school enables every student (and faculty and staff member) to identify the ways they individually learn. We created our kite model; a visual, child-focused system to explore and explain how every individual is smart. 

We ask the question, how are you smart, not how smart are you?  We do this in three different ways: affirm, stretch, celebrate. 

Affirm 

We affirm how our AACA kids are smart and how they’re developing.  We help them establish their strengths and their struggles.  We give our students a sense of confidence that with both their strengths and their struggles  — they can learn. 

Stretch 

We stretch our kids. By using their strengths to stretch into their struggling areas, we help our kids to be a better version of themselves, and to learn the things they need to learn. 

kids in blue sweatshirts

Celebrate

We celebrate. We celebrate by high fiving. We celebrate by enjoying cake. We announce wins in our all-school morning meeting. We actively celebrate the awakening of creativity and its accompanying success. 

It’s a simplistic way to think about educating children and even parenting them. Affirm first, then stretch and then  —  celebrate!   

“Small classroom sizes offer a unique and individualized school day.  The teacher really knows where the student is struggling.” AACA Parent 

Moving to Paso Robles

Finding our new location and the space to create the facility of our dreams was no easy feat. Our tuition-free public charter school currently serves over 300 students in North SLO County. After the new site is built we will serve over 500. 

“I’ve been a part of the AACA facility team for five years. We’ve been actively looking for a home that we can call our own in which we can grow and thrive as a school.”  AACA Board President Samer Mohamed 

A  seven-year search for a property that met the school’s budget and safety requirements ensued. Our facilities team is now fully immersed in building and preparation for the fall 2021-2022 school year. Our state-of-the-art charter school will include indoor and outdoor play spaces, collapsible classroom walls to invite collaboration and shared learning, small meeting spaces for faculty to collaborate, and a combinable gym and atrium to hold large events. Our middle school will have science labs and a college-inspired academic library. 

At Almond Acres Charter Academy we believe strongly that when we affirm, stretch and celebrate — we create kids that are intelligent, confident, successful, creative, happy, and caring.  They become leaders in our charter school community  — and throughout their lives.  

About Almond Acres

Almond Acres is moving to Paso Robles. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!

Guide to Charter Schools Paso Robles, California

Guide to Charter Schools Paso Robles, California

Are you a parent in search of school options for your kids in Paso Robles, California?

2020 brought many changes to every aspect of our daily lives including children’s education. The massive changes in K-12 education given the COVID-19 pandemic are forcing parents to look for other education options for their kids.

It can be quite challenging to make the right choice regarding kids’ schooling given the many available choices to parents such as online schools, local public schools, private schools, and public charter schools.

This article is meant to guide parents to empower them to make the best choices for their children. This post will answer questions such as “What are public charter schools?” “What tuition free public schools are available in Paso Robles, California” and “What’s the process for enrolling a student in a charter school?”

What is a Tuition-Free Public Charter School in California?

Charter schools are basically public schools that offer instruction in any combination of grades, which can be anywhere from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. Community members like teachers, community members, and parents can start a petition for a charter school. The local school district’s governing board is usually tasked to study and approve such petitions. Under the California Education Code (EC), the State Board of Education and county boards of education can become charter authorizing entities.

Charter schools as they are also public schools, receive funding from the state. They also have better flexibility in various aspects of the school’s management functions such as curriculum management, hiring, and other functions. Most charter schools are run by an organization under their self-appointed boards while traditional public schools are being managed by school districts with a board-appointed superintendent and elected school board.

Simply put, charter schools have more independence than traditional public schools, allowing them more leeway to experiment and craft instructional and other innovations.

What Tuition-Free Public Charter Schools are Available For Kids in Paso Robles, California?

Parents in search of a tuition-free public charter school in Paso Robles, California can inquire with Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA). It is a K-8 charter school offering students a strong and inspiring support system. The school takes pride in providing a project-based curriculum and high-quality learning with the help of passionate and highly-experienced teachers. 

Our simple mission is to put students first. Almond Acres celebrates the uniqueness of each child by designing lessons based on the many ways a child can learn and identifying how children are smart, not just how smart they are. We value students for who they are now and who they hope to become and we take advantage of our small class sizes to build solid, affirming relationships that help students grow into the best version of themselves. 

In addition to an innovative project-based approach, we use research-backed practices to teach reading, writing, and math fundamentals. Arts and sciences, leadership, technology, and unwavering student support are all included in our curriculum. Our service learning projects connect students to the local community, creating a bridge between schooling and life.

Are There Other Tuition-Free and Public Charter Schools Available in Paso Robles?

You can choose to apply and enroll your children in a tuition-free, public charter school even if it is outside your school district. Paso Robles charter schools do not have to comply with boundary school rules. Thus, parents in Paso Robles, San Miguel, North County and San Luis Obispo County can opt for the charter school of their choice and not worry about breaking district rules. California laws state that charter schools admit any child residing in the state if their capacity allows it.

What is the Process of Enrolling my Child in a Tuition-Free Public Charter School in Paso Robles?

The enrollment process of charter schools is highly similar to other school types. They require an application where parents have to provide information about the child such as name, address, birth date, ethnic background, and the last school attended.

It is your responsibility to check the charter schools’ application and enrollment deadlines along with the school’s specific enrollment rules, policies, and requirements. Charter schools may have different rules and processes, but their admission rules must comply with state laws. According to California laws, charter schools cannot implement policies that unlawfully discriminate against their applicants. 

You should also remember that there is a high possibility of seeing your child’s name on the school’s waitlist especially if you applied to a sought-after charter school. Many charter schools receive more applications than their capacities allow. Schools that have more applicants than they can take in usually employ a random selection process. The lottery system is a commonly used selection technique by many charter schools.

Do Public Charter Schools Offer High-Quality Education in Paso Robles?

It’s normal for parents to wonder whether public charter schools offer high-quality education.

If you remain unsure about the quality of charter schools, t studies often show that charter school students display better academic progress than those enrolled in public schools. Here are some figures proving the high-quality education provided by charter schools.

  • In the same school year, roughly 74 percent of students from charter schools met the student achievement goals for disadvantaged students, a percentage that’s significantly higher than the 59 percent from non-charter schools.
  • In the same school year, middle school students from charter schools also did better across all subgroups when compared to students from non-charter schools in California.
  • In reading, 32 percent of charter schools perform significantly better than their traditional public school counterparts, while 29 percent perform significantly better in math. Both of these results are better than the national average proportion of better-performing charters (25% in reading and 29% in math).

In addition, California charter school students in middle schools consistently fared better in their API Growth scores, outperforming their traditional public school counterparts. 

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!