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.

Nurturing Excellence: A Journey with Almond Acres Charter Academy

As a parent, navigating the educational landscape can be both exciting and daunting. However, our family’s experience with Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) has been nothing short of exceptional. With two children who have been part of the AACA family, the impact on their academic and personal growth has been profound.

Our journey with AACA began when my daughter entered kindergarten, and it continued until she seamlessly transitioned into high school. Today, she is excelling both academically and socially, and I attribute much of her success to the solid foundation laid at AACA. The school’s commitment to “growing great kids” is not just a tagline but a philosophy deeply embedded in every aspect of its educational approach.

AACA’s unique strength lies in its holistic approach to education, focusing on the Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul of each child. This philosophy recognizes and embraces the individuality of every student, fostering an environment where children can thrive academically while also developing socially and emotionally.

My son, currently in middle school at AACA, has been attending since the first grade and is thriving. With a modest enrollment of around 500 students, AACA maintains an intimate atmosphere where classroom sizes remain small. This not only facilitates personalized attention for each student but also encourages a strong connection between educators and parents.

One of the hallmarks of AACA is the ease with which parents can engage with the school community. Having an open line of communication with my child’s teacher has been invaluable. It’s not just about academic progress; it’s about the personal growth and well-being of each child. The commitment to a collaborative partnership between educators and parents is palpable at AACA.

What sets AACA apart is its reminiscent feel of a small schoolhouse within a close-knit community. It’s a place where every child is seen, heard, and valued. The personal touch extends beyond the classroom, creating an environment that nurtures not only academic success but also the development of character.

In a world where education is often associated with numbers and statistics, AACA stands as a beacon of a bygone era, where the emphasis on growing great kids takes precedence. As a parent, witnessing the dedication of the AACA team to the well-rounded development of our children reassures me that we made the right choice for our family.

In the end, our experience with Almond Acres Charter Academy goes beyond just being part of a school; it’s about being part of a community that shares a common goal—growing great kids who are not only academically proficient but also compassionate, resilient, and prepared for the challenges of the future.

Contributed By: Ed Surber, AACA Parent

Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports

Have you heard teachers or staff refer to PBIS? PBIS stands for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. It’s an evidence-based three-tiered framework we use to establish our school culture and support each other in becoming the best version of ourselves. It works by gathering data and using that information to improve our systems and practices. 

Who Participates in PBIS?

PBIS is for everyone, not just students! We established a Tier 1 PBIS team of six staff members with different roles on campus. This team just completed the first year of Tier 1 training which focused on developing the systems we will need to launch PBIS with consistency and fidelity next year. Many of the components of PBIS are already implemented at AACA. However, the team is excited about launching PBIS with renewed enthusiasm in the fall.

Why Are Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Important?

Positive interventions and supports are essential because they create an environment that fosters growth, learning, and progress. When we encourage people to focus on their strengths and accomplishments rather than their weaknesses, we empower them to reach their full potential and improve their self-confidence. Positive interventions have a ripple effect on improving social, emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes for all students.

How Is PBIS Implemented at AACA?

At AACA, our behavior expectations are based on five character traits; Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Fair, and Caring. We have defined what it is to be “TeRRiFiC” across all school settings and contexts. 

Our goal is to prevent behavior problems rather than react to them. Expectations need to be explicitly taught, modeled, practiced, and reinforced. That means all adults must be familiar with and model the behaviors we want to see in students. All staff uses the same lesson plans to teach behavior in the hallways, playground, quad, etc., not just in the classroom. Expectations are taught creatively using videos of staff doing the wrong thing, then the right thing. 

While there is a heavy emphasis on behavior expectations at the beginning of the school year, we regularly re-teach throughout the year, especially when returning from extended breaks. This is important for any students who arrive later in the school year and serves as a reminder for those who may have forgotten. 

Reinforcements range from simple, non-specific feedback like a high-five or thumbs up to behavior-specific feedback to tangible rewards. Research indicates that you can improve behavior by 80% just by pointing out what someone is doing correctly. Simply telling a child “No!” doesn’t teach them proper behavior. Giving someone clear expectations in a firm, fair, and friendly way makes a big difference in how they receive and respond. It helps us shift from being reactive to being proactive.

PBIS is a tiered model of support. Most of our students and staff respond well to the Tier 1 efforts we have described in this post. Some need additional Tier 2 support, and a few need more intensive Tier 3 support. Tier 2 and 3 interventions are evidence-based, positive, and restorative. There are many steps to integrate this process entirely, and we are working with the County Office of Education to ensure that we meet each step

How Can Families Support This Effort at Home? 

Look for our PBIS launch party (aka Meet-the-Teacher Night) at the beginning of the school year! We plan to teach families about this process, what it looks like, and how they can implement it at home. In the meantime, here are a few things to consider.

  • Work as a family to define what Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Fair, and Caring look like in your family. Be specific about your common places and activities; the dinner table, the car, public places, chores, AM and PM routines, etc.
  • Remember, relationships thrive with a 5:1 positivity ratio!
  • Specific positive feedback does wonders. Recognize the behavior explicitly and connect it to the expectations. “Fred, you brushed your teeth without any reminders tonight. Good job being responsible.” or “It felt great not to be rushed this morning. Thank you for being ready on time.”

 It takes a village to raise kids; we will be most successful when we work together to grow great kids!

Opinion: Inventive Approaches to Education Here in North County

Connie Pillsbury is an independent opinion columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at conniepillsbury22@gmail.com.

While parents and local school boards bicker over curriculum, masks, and mandates, a quiet and profound educational pivot is occurring behind the scenes in San Luis Obispo County. “Necessity is the mother of invention” applies here, as exponential numbers of parents are generating new and novel educational programs outside of the public school system.

Just a few of the expanding options on the leading edge of this shift are the county-wide Heartland Charter School, Almond Acres Charter Academy in Paso Robles, Learn Academy in Atascadero, Christ Classical School, and SLO Classical School in San Luis Obispo.

Heartland Charter School is a tuition-free, public independent study charter school serving kindergarten through 12th grade in nine California counties. The Heartland community is composed of homeschooling families under the guidance and direction of credentialed Heartland teachers. Its unique educational funds make it a popular choice for local parents. Each student has funds which can be applied to various local approved ‘vendors’ in the areas of fine arts, music, educational and physical activities. There are over twenty vendors just in North County, including horseback, swim, martial arts, and dance lessons along with sewing, piano, art, guitar, and tutoring.

In Paso Robles, the brand new and beautiful Almond Acres Charter School, made possible through the vision and support of its founders and local parents and donors, is open on Niblick Lane for full classroom learning for K-8 students. Focused on complementary academic instruction across all grade levels, math, science and technology focus, leadership, and fine arts, Almond Acres’s goal is to “incite a passion and desire to learn.”

Read the full article on Paso Robles Press

Almond Acres Charter Academy moves into new campus

Almond Acres Charter Academy opens for classes Monday at its new campus on Niblick Road. The City of Paso Robles gave the charter school permission Thursday afternoon to occupy its new building.

Almond Acres students will attend one week of school at the new campus, then go on Christmas break. They will return in early January to their new building near the intersection of Niblick and Creston Roads.

Constructions crews have worked all year to prepare the buildings for occupation and instruction. Principal Bob Bourgault hoped to get the school open in the fall, but work continued into early December. Bourgault says the floor is not complete in the gym. They hope to finish the gym by mid-January.

The $15 million dollar Almond Acres Charter Academy campus will accommodate 450 students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. Previously, the school was located at Lillian Larsen Elementary School in San Miguel. So far this academic year, the students attended classes at Centennial Community Center and Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation.

Staff and teachers assembled desks and other equipment in the new building this past week to prepare for opening day on Monday.

Bougault says, “We’re thrilled to finally move into our own campus. After weeks of waiting for completion, we have nearly reached our goal. It’s very exciting.”

via: Paso Robles Daily News