Bill on Charter Schools and Public School Surplus Property Stalls in California Legislature

Amid ongoing efforts to meet school budget needs and safely house students, a bill that reinstates charter schools’ priority in the purchase of surplus public school district property has stalled in the California Legislature.

What Happened
On July 1, 2016, the California education code provision relating to school facilities, surplus real property and charter schools quietly expired. From 2012 until it expired, the law not only included charter schools on the list of entities to be notified when public school districts released surplus property for sale or lease, but it also required charter schools to be notified first.

So, if a charter school had submitted a written request to the school district to be notified of surplus real property it had for sale or lease, the charter school could make an offer before local governments, nonprofits and the private sector.

Sen. Scott Wiener introduced SB-765 School Facilities: Surplus Real Property: Charter Schools to reinstate the requirement. The proposed bill also included an exemption to address the critical issue of teacher and staff housing. If passed, school districts intending to sell, lease, exchange or jointly occupy surplus property for workforce housing in accordance with the Teacher Housing Act of 2016 would be exempt from the requirement to first offer the surplus property to charter schools.

On July 12, 2017, the Assembly’s Education Committee, led by Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), postponed the bill’s hearing. It is unlikely that any more action on the bill will take place this year.

What’s Next
Although the bill passed the State Senate and had a number of supporters in the charter school community (including the California Charter Schools Association), a number of public-sector unions, including the California Teachers Association, had concerns regarding district control over land use decisions.

Any future changes in the bill text or activity will be posted on the California Legislative Information website.

Whether you are part of a public school district considering selling or leasing underutilized property or a charter school looking to acquire a site for a new school, you know that navigating real estate is a complicated process. DCG can help. Read more about how DCG has helped education institutions meet their goals, and contact us to learn more.