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

Gratitude

Did you know that one of the smartest things we can do is to be thankful? Neuroscientists have proven that an ounce of gratitude can lead to clearer thinking, better sleeping, less stress, and smarter decision-making. The release of positive neurotransmitters in our brains, as a result of choosing to think gratefully, is remarkable. Like so many great things in life, choosing to be grateful is as simple as thinking about it. Asking our brains to recall people, places, things, and ideas that we are thankful for will release chemicals in our brains that will improve our well-being immediately. There is power in gratitude and it is only a thought away.

Stop! Think about something you are grateful for. Did you sense the sensation of joy, happiness, and well-being? This is the juice that satisfied and successful people live on. Unfortunately, the same is true if we think of the negative things in life. These thoughts breed distraught.  It’s a choice. Choose wellness.


It’s sure easy to grumble and complain about the challenges and obstacles of the day. When I find myself slipping down the slippery slope of self-pity, a simple reminder about my faith, my family, and the joy of getting to be Mr. B can stop me in my tracks and get me back to a positive frame of mind. What I have learned about this slippery slope is that sometimes I have to consciously choose to stop the slide and force my brain to consider a more positive path. Being grateful is an easy way to remind ourselves that our lives are filled with wonderful people, opportunities, and a place to live.

Practicing Gratitude
What are you thankful for: WRITE IT – READ IT – SAY IT!

  • Heart: Have a family meal and share what you are grateful for in each other.
  • Mind: Write a thank you note to someone.
  • Body: Donate clothing items to Coats for Kids or food items to Loaves and Fishes.
  • Soul: Think about the time, talents, and treasures you have to give away.

“Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings”. – William Arthur Ward

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy


Learning Links

3 Things to Know about Habits of Mind

By teaching kids how they’re smart, we teach them to develop their thinking skills. We call them habits of mind. What are my habits?  What are the things I’m going to get good at because I’m going to practice? These personal and intellectual character traits are what makes us smart, happy, and successful. They are the mental frameworks which all of our knowledge and skills sit upon. 

One of our primary focuses at Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) is teaching kids to think about what’s important, so they’ll act on it. When we act on things that are important, we create habits. When we create habits, it becomes our character. Our character becomes our destiny. For us, it’s all about developing thought processes; developing smart, intelligent, thinking. Thinking triggers action and the cycle begins again —  habits, character, and destiny.

How we teach Habits of Mind at Almond Acres

  1. We use a variety of tools — thinking tools — to help us teach our kids how to think and develop their thinking skills. The first is terrific. It’s an acronym TRRFC that includes these citizenship traits: Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Fair, and Caring. These citizenship traits involve key principles that grow strong citizens. By thinking in these terms and modeling these behaviors — you are terrific. You’re being a better version of yourself. 
  1. We encourage and ascribe to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This is a very well-researched and proven approach to help people become better versions of themselves. The Seven Habits are shared, encouraged, and expected in our school on a daily basis.  

Our kids grow to know each of the seven habits that also develop into an Almond Acres leadership system. It’s our way for kids to be leaders in their classroom, the school, our community, or at home. 

An Almond Acres alum shared this feedback about their time at our middle school, 

“ I enjoyed the amount of one-on-one attention and education I received since the classes were so small. I felt like I could create deeper connections with my peers and teachers. I found it beneficial in my older years to have thoroughly learned the Habits of Mind and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

  1. Leadership gives every human confidence. We expect all of our kids to experience leadership roles whether they stem from an official leadership group or they are a leader in their classroom. Our students glean leadership opportunities every day by being the light monitor, or the person who opens the door when somebody knocks. Our student leaders might direct a guest or act as an ambassador to the school and give tours to prospective families. 

There are tons of different jobs to promote leadership in every classroom, and we believe there’s a leader in every student. We try to provide every one of our K-8 students with opportunities to be empowered. 

Students who are confident citizens is another way to describe what’s at the core of our school mission — to grow great kids! We holistically celebrate each unique learner  — heart, mind, body, and soul. Get to know Almond Acres. We’re enrolling tuition-free K-8 today! 

About Almond Acres

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. The school is located in Paso Robles and is open to all students in 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!

How to Teach Kids Responsibility

Being dependable, honoring commitments, keeping promises, accepting your strengths and struggles, and accepting natural and logical consequences – these are the habits that make us responsible people.
 
When we can use our abilities to respond to the challenges in life, we take control with confidence. When we tell our children to be the best version of themselves, we encourage response-ability. Helping our children to understand that they do have the ability to respond to so many aspects of their young life is truly capacity building and a powerful enabling of personal efficacy.
 
 
Here are 5 responsibility building tips from a mother of eight children:
  • Model it: do your best to be on time, clean up after yourself, do what you say, and say what you do.
  • Assign it gradually: scaffold age-appropriate chores and activities within your family.
  • Let them observe what happens if someone isn’t responsible: strategically stop doing something that they expect you to do just so that they can experience how responsible adults usually are.
  • Play the scenario game: write 10-20 typical scenarios regarding opportunities to be responsible
  • No bail-outs: let your child face the natural and logical consequences of irresponsible behavior.
 
We can also practice responsibility the AACA way:
  • Heart – approach a friend who may be struggling.
  • Mind – work hard to complete assignments with accuracy.
  • Body – tidy the space you trace.
  • Soul – think twice to speak nice.
 
Inspiring Quotes About Responsibility
 
If you mess up, ‘fess up.” – Author Unknown
 
“Never point a finger where you never lent a hand.” – Robert Brault
 
“Quit making excuses. Putting it off. Complaining about it. Dreaming about it. Whining about it. Crying about it. Believing you can’t. Worrying if you can. Waiting until you are older. Make a plan & just do it.” – Nike
 
Learning Links

Brain Power: What Kind of Learner Am I?

Smart is not
Just being best
At spelling bees,
A tricky test.
Or knowing all the answers ever…
Other things are just as clever.
Every hour of every day,
We’re smart in our own special way.
And nobody will ever do…
The very same smart thing as you.

All the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell

You have probably heard of book smarts. Even street smarts and people smarts. But have you heard of nature smart? Or music smart? How about word smart? 

At Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA), we believe that all kids are smart, born with their own unique set of gifts. Our job is to affirm, stretch and celebrate the unique gifts we are all given–from book smart to number smart and everything in between. 

At the beginning of each school year, AACA teachers empower our K-8 students to uncover how they are smart. The goal is to help students shift the question away from “am I smart?” to “how am I smart?” We begin this work with self-reflection, a study of the brain and by diving into the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. 

Self-Reflection & Self-Awareness

The journey of self-discovery at AACA is focused on a reflection of personal interests, strengths and personality traits. Our students spend time observing their own behavior and answering questions about things they enjoy doing, what comes easy, and what things are challenging. They work with their parents and teachers to identify strengths and struggles in all areas of their lives: heart, mind, body, and soul.  
In a student-led parent-teacher conference following this self-discovery period, students share what they’ve learned about themselves and challenge themselves to grow – or stretch – their skills. For example, a student may choose to learn to play an instrument, participate in the school play, or improve their reading fluency by learning 100 sight words.

Brain Power!

Even in kindergarten, AACA teachers begin to explain how our brains work. We include the biology and mechanics of the brain. Our brains do so much for us – from recognizing objects, to problem-solving, to processing emotions. Understanding this from a young age can help demystify learning and everyday habits we never think about like breathing and digestion. Knowledge is power when it comes to ownership for our bodies, our actions and our lives.

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Our work at AACA is deeply based on Harvard professor Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Gardner’s theory of the 8 intelligences graphic

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences explains the different ways we learn and express our innate intelligence. We explore ways that we can learn new concepts, paying attention to which type comes most naturally to us and which types are more challenging. No person has just a single intelligence—we are a beautiful combination of all the different ways to learn. 

Here are a couple of examples of the multiple intelligences in action:  

  • Someone who has strong interpersonal skills may learn best when working with a partner or team.  
  • A person with strong linguistic skills may be a word-smith or skilled at picking up new languages.
  • Someone with strong kinesthetic abilities may learn sight words better if they do jumping jacks while they spell words out loud.

This philosophy is so important to us that we’ve even installed the 8 symbols in the courtyard of our new building. It’s also tied in with our mascot and kite philosophy. Affirming, stretching and celebrating our smarts is a huge part of who we are.

The courtyard of the new Almond Acres Charter Academy building. There are 4 windows displayed and above each window is a round plaque with a symbol and word illustrating the multiple intelligences.

Boosting Knowledge & Confidence

AACA teachers use this new-found knowledge to boost student’s self-worth and confidence. Teachers incorporate the different ways of learning into lessons, being sure to vary the way new information is presented for all types of learners. We look for ways to draw out individual talents and recognize students for their unique contributions, while not ignoring areas that may need more nurturing and stretching. 

Understanding ourselves also helps understand others. When our students uncover all the ways they are smart, we notice an increase in empathy toward classmates. Everyone is smart in their own way! 

AACA celebrates all the ways we are smart. We believe our individual intelligences are gifts that bring color to our world and teach us that we can accomplish so much together. How are you smart? 

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!