The Slowdown in Bay Area Charter School Growth: Causes and Solutions

This report shows the rate of new charter school growth has slowed significantly in recent years. The 2016-2017 school year marked the first time in at least 10 years when more Bay Area charter schools closed than opened. In the interviews conducted by CRPE, they revealed an already fatigued sector dealing with a powerful trifecta of new factors. As charters have become a more significant presence, especially in their target cities, they are encountering very scarce facilities, increased competition with each other, and increased political opposition. Increasing renovation of deteriorated urban neighborhoods is of particular concern for Bay Area operators with a mission to serve low-income populations. Combined with the rising “cost of business”, operators are increasingly interested in looking to grow in nearby counties where start-up funding is perceived to be more scarce. CRPE concludes that through innovation and cooperation, charter schools in the Bay Area can move their impact, with the students they serve and in a broad improvement they can help leverage.