L.A.’s two largest charter school operators will likely escape the fallout from a state bill giving school districts more tools to block new charter campuses — at least for now. But that’s largely because Alliance College-Ready Public Schools and Green Dot Public Schools, both based downtown, are coming off periods of rapid expansion and have no immediate plans to add schools.
Alliance has 28 charter schools in Los Angeles County on 24 campuses, and Green Dot has 20 charter schools in the county.
Both operators, however, have plans to resume their expansion eventually. That’s when the bill — which passed the Legislature last week and was sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his expected signature — will likely be felt.
“This bill would certainly make it more difficult to open any new Alliance school, including elementary schools, as it would for all new charter public schools,” said Catherine Suitor, spokeswoman for Alliance College Ready Public Schools.
Alliance, which was founded in 2004 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the largest single charter school operator in L.A. County, with 13,000 students at 18 high schools and 10 middle schools. Its operating budget for the fiscal year ending June 2018 was $189 million, most of which comes from state education funds.
Green Dot was founded in 1999 also as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. In 2014, Green Dot reorganized so it could expand to other states; it now has five charter schools in Tennessee and three in Washington.
Green Dot’s California operation remains focused on L.A. County where it serves roughly 12,000 students across three school districts: Los Angeles Unified, Inglewood Unified and Lennox. Its budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2018 was $150 million, mostly comprised of state education funds.
The agreement represents the first legislative attempt to put the brakes on charter schools, something long sought by public school teachers’ unions and other opponents. Charter schools are public schools operated independent of school districts with their own teachers and administrators. Their aim is to bring competition to K-12 education.
Under a law enacted in 1982, school districts must approve new charter schools so long as applicants meet financial viability criteria and present a solid academic program.
That law spurred a boom in charter school formation, with money for operators pouring in from foundations and education reform groups.
In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the number of charter schools exploded from a handful 20 years ago to 224 today, taking in nearly 20% of the roughly 735,000 students in LAUSD territory.
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