2023 Legislative Preview: A Voucher by Any Other Name, “Flex-Based” Schools, and More

Sacramento, CA – Fundamental financing shifts and new definitions for nonclassroom-based schools are up for debate in California education policy in 2023. Since the bill introduction deadline last Friday, February 17, CSDC is now tracking over 100 bills that could impact charter schools. This kicks off the long process of public debate that will shape bills over time. The Legislature is early in the process, with specific bill language still trickling in. This article is a preview of what’s coming this Spring. 

There are several “big bills” that would fundamentally shift public education, including Senator Anthony Portantino’s (D- Pasadena) second attempt at an Average Daily Membership bill. Assembly Bill 98 would allow for the use of enrollment of average daily attendance (ADA), whichever is greater, to compute LCFF funding to local school districts and charter schools. California is one of the few states that still uses ADA as the building block for state funding. The bill is backed by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and the Los Angeles Unified School District because it would benefit schools and districts serving a large portion of low-income and minority students, especially those that have seen an absenteeism increase since the pandemic. Assemblymember Kevin McCarty’s (D-Sacramento) bill would establish ongoing funding for afterschool programs, providing a longer-term financial commitment for schools that invested in developing ELO programs. 

Student health and wellness continues to be a hot topic, with five separate bills attempting to address the opioid epidemic; these specifically include charter schools. The legislature has also turned its attention to early childhood education and preschool in response to a coalition of labor groups pushing to address the cost of childcare for working families. Schools that have thought about getting into the subsidized preschool game may want to pay attention to how the rules (and the funding) are changing.  

Charter School-Specific Bills 

  • A Threat to Facilities Access: Assembly Bill 1604, brought by Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D- Oakland), is a spot-bill – a place holder that doesn’t have specific policy language yet –  that would make changes to the Charter School Facility Grant Program (CSFGP). As CSDC predicted, Bonta introduced the bill just days after Joint Legislative Audit Committee issued a report on the program with largely positive audit findings. Last year, we worked together to defeat AB 2484 (Bonta), which would have hobbled the state bond program. This year, Assemblymember Bonta may be too distracted to take another bite at the apple – but we will be prepared if....   

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