Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) announced Thursday that she and State Sen. Joe Simitian (D- Palo Alto) reached an agreement on a package of bills with the California Charter Schools Association that will establish uniform standards for public charter schools.
“Many months of collaboration with the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) have produced an exceptional package of bills that will enhance charter schools’ ability to offer a superb, innovative educational experience to a wider group of California students,” Brownley said. “Our agreement contains important protections for students and the public while preserving charter schools’ autonomy as an alternative to traditional public schools.”
AB 360 by Brownley would require charter school governing boards to comply with open meeting and public records laws and add protections against financial conflicts of interest. It includes two new exemptions which allow governing board members and school employees to make loans to the school during fiscal emergencies and to lease or co-sign a real property lease for the school.
AB 440 by Brownley requires charter schools to meet rigorous academic accountability standards prior to the renewal process. It requires charter schools to hire the same high quality financial auditors as school districts, allows a charter petitioner’s previous history operating charter schools to be considered by the authorizer, and requires a charter school’s track record in serving students who reflect the community’s demographics to also be considered in renewal.
SB 645 by Simitian expands the eligibility for charter schools to receive grants for facilities serving low-income students and contains the same academic accountability standards as AB 440.
The CCSA and Brownley believe this package of bills will strengthen charter schools’ commitment to high quality education while also providing flexibility charter schools need to ensure innovative alternative learning environments.
AB 360 is scheduled to be heard in the State Senate Committee on Judiciary on July 5. AB 440 and SB 645 are scheduled to be heard in the State Senate and Assembly committees on education on July 6, according to Brownley’s staff.