Popularity Of Charter Schools Continues To Climb In California

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California’s charter schools continue to grow at a rapid clip with more new schools opening than ever before, an industry association said Wednesday.

The California Charter Schools Association said an unprecedented 109 charter schools opened throughout the state for the 2012-13 academic year, bringing the total number of charter schools to 1,065.

Enrollment in charters saw a 17 percent boost this fall, increasing by 70,000 students to 484,000.

“The general population in California is embracing charter schools at whole new levels,” said Jed Wallace, president and chief executive of the association. “The public and parents are looking with greater urgency for choices.”

Los Angeles County had the most new charters, with the debut of 40 schools. Sonoma County had the second highest, with 12 schools opening.

California has long boasted the highest number of charter schools and students in the nation with the Los Angeles Unified School District hosting the most, about 200 charter schools.

Charters are autonomously operated public schools funded with public money and loosely overseen by local school districts.

Wallace said the growth is noteworthy as it comes in the face of increasing obstacles charters are seeing in obtaining facilities and adequate funding.

About two dozen schools have closed over the past year, on par with the previous year, Wallace said, noting that it was a healthy trend that lowest performing schools shut down.

“We insist on high levels of accountability,” he said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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