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Although this money is considered general purpose funding, school districts typically
spend approximately 8 percent of the base revenue limit on special education and
transportation. Charter schools are not automatically entitled to the full amount of base
revenue funding. School districts frequently charge administrative fees and subtract
amounts to cover district-provided services.
Pupil Count: Unlike most states, California charter school funding depends on average daily attendance (ADA). Charter schools with low attendance rates experience reduced funding.
The alternative method, average daily membership (ADM) is used in all states with charter
schools except Texas and California. Low-income and at-risk students usually have the
highest absence rates. ADA funding discourages the establishment of charter schools
serving these high-cost children and contributes to funding problems for charter schools
that choose to do so. 1 A new funding system effective in 1999-2000 simplifies the current system by giving charter schools
“block grants” composed of revenue limit resources and most state categorical programs. Block grants are
fixed for all charter schools and vary only by grade level. Transferring funding from categorical programs
into block grants releases charter schools from regulatory strings typically attached to state categorical
programs. Some categorical programs (e.g., teacher salary bonuses, English language acquisition programs
and all federal programs) are not included in the block grant, and charter schools may apply for them
individually. The state apportions funds directly to charter schools unless individual schools choose to get
funding through their sponsor districts. As in the original funding system, block grants are apportioned based
on average daily attendance. 106 Appendix California Categorical Funding: Charter schools are entitled to state discretionary and categorical funds if they have eligible students. Charter schools negotiate for categorical funds with the
school district. No statutory requirements specify that charter schools must expend funds
received from a particular state-funded categorical program for that particular purpose.
Charter schools can receive categorical funding for the following programs: lottery funds,
school improvement programs, desegregation funding, state instructional materials, class
size reduction, special education, transportation, gifted and talented, economic impact aid,
mentor teacher and state compensatory education. Prior to 1999-2000, California law did
not clearly entitle charter schools to lottery funds. Some school districts did not pass lottery
funds on to charter schools because the funds were considered neither base revenue limit
funds nor categorical funds. Table 1 shows district average categorical funding per
Special Education: Charter schools are entitled to special education funding to the extent that the pupils in their schools are entitled to special education services. Special education used
to be funded through a complex reimbursement model, but the state has implemented a per
capita funding model. Based on the...
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- Spring '09