Legislative Alert: Proposed Budget Trailer Bill Caps Charter ADA

Published June 23, 2020 19:30

The Legislature and Governor announced they have reached an agreement on a 2020-21 state budget package. The “trailer bill” to implement the K-12 education components of the budget contains many offensive provisions, the worst of which includes capping funding for growing schools. CSDC urges you to act now (see details below) to urge your legislators to reject this cap proposal.


Current law allocates most funding to charter schools and school districts based on the ADA their schools generate. School districts currently may be funded on the greater of their current- or prior-year ADA, effectively giving districts a one-year cushion against declines in ADA. The one exception to this protection is when the decline in districts’ ADA is due to loss of enrollment to charter schools.

The proposed budget trailer bill (AB 77) calls for funding all school districts and charter schools (including both classroom-based and nonclassroom-based ones) in the upcoming 2020-21 school year on the basis of their 2019-20 ADA. School districts experiencing losses of attendance had sought “hold harmless” language during budget deliberations to protect them from loss of ADA to charter schools. At no time during the deliberations, however, did anyone suggest nor propose capping charter schools' ADA growth and CSDC and other charter advocates were assured by legislative and Newsom Administration sources that there were no proposals to cap charter school growth.

The language for the proposed budget trailer bill, however, appears to clearly indicate growth will be capped, stating that the state “shall use the local education agency’s average daily attendance for the 2019-20 school year in place of its average daily attendance for the 2020-21 school year.” The only exception is for new charter schools that are opening this fall. Since most of the state’s school districts are shrinking and the few that are growing tend to grow very slowly, the brunt of the impact will fall squarely on charter schools.

Most growing schools have already admitted students for the upcoming school year, have hired necessary staff, purchased materials, equipment, and supplies, and committed to additional facilities expenses. The trailer bill does not address what growing charter schools should do, presumably leaving the schools with potentially devastating financial and operational consequences.

Call to Action

Since this cap is said to reflect the consensus of legislative leaders and the Governor, it’s important to act now and decisively to oppose it.

Suggested steps include the following:

  • Call your state Senator (find them here) and ask them to request that this language be amended in this budget trailer bill to allow for growth in charter schools. Since the Senate may vote on this as soon as Friday, June 26, time is of the essence.
  • Contact the Senate Budget Committee. It meets tomorrow (Wednesday, June 24) morning “upon call of the chair” (unspecified time) to consider all of the many trailer bills. Monitor the Senate’s website to see when the Committee meets.
    • During the meeting, the public may phone-in to the meeting to provide testimony by calling 1-844-291-6364 and using access code 665757.
    • Alternatively, send an email to the committee ( indicating opposition to the provisions in AB 77 that would effectively cap growth in charter school attendance and funding.

At this time the lower house, the Assembly, is on summer break, but would vote on this measure (if it passes the Senate floor this week) when they return from summer break and resume session or they may return early to do so.

Monitor CSDC’s Twitter and emails for future updates on point.

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